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Registration for Spring 2017 classes began for many students this week. As is usual for this process, classes fill up or aren’t offered on certain days of the week, which can create problems for students. These problems usually work themselves out. But what’s the deal with all the online classes being offered?
Some classes may be effective in an online format but, this is not true of all courses and many students may not respond well to a strictly online class. For instance, those seeking enrollment in an English class for next semester were met with an overwhelming number of strictly online courses. English 145, Survey of World Literature II, is offered both online and in person. Sounds great, right? The catch is the class that meets face to face is offered only to students in the Honors Program instead of offering an Honors contract, like many other classes do. This is due to the fact that the course is designed to be more rigorous than its online counterpart.
For some, online classes are beneficial because there is no scheduled meeting time, but for others, this is the main problem. Not being in a class with a professor creates a lack of structure. Designated class times ensure that students will interact with their professor instead of emailing them when they have a question. Students may not even ever meet with their professors or any of their peers. The trouble with an online classes is, if a student has a question and can’t reach their professor via email or office hours, then the student is stuck.
Students may need certain classes that are only offered online, which isn’t a problem for all, but it is a problem for most: according to a study in USA Today, 78 percent of college students in 2013 said they preferred traditional classes to online classes.
The idea that students learn in a variety of ways has been a common one for years. Students are often required to give speeches or work in groups during class to expose them to different learning styles and study methods, but all of this is lost when only online classes are offered.
Many classes have been moved online due to a lack of interest in the subject and low enrollment. For students still interested in the course, or that need the course to meet a general education requirement, there is no other option. The overwhelming migration from physical class meetings to online “interactions” diminishes the community in community college, a fundamental blow for an institution that struggles to build a social atmosphere already.