Online classes: Losing out on learning

By in Opinions
It’s best to think twice about online education.

At the University of Saskatchewan, many courses are offered online, across all programs and disciplines, to replace regular lectures. While this class format promises to be more accessible for students, there are obvious flaws in the delivery.

We’re enrolled in university to learn, and online classes simply cannot provide the same opportunities for growth and development found in the classroom environment.

I take issue with any initiative that automates and restricts my expression. Learning, as I see it, is an ongoing and multifaceted beast. We learn from our professors, from our peers and from ourselves sometimes, too. The value of dialogue and inclass discussion is insurmountable.

The educational diversity of the classroom environment offers social development in line with course objectives, and quite often, that’s the biggest take-away. Online classes at the U of S rob students of this social development. Your experience, and often the quantification of your learning through grading, is affected by the interactions you have and the relationships — no matter how superficial — that you can cultivate in the classroom.

It’s a daunting thing, getting to know your professors, but finding connections with them when you can will provide a solid foundation for your academic experience and will ultimately benefit you.

Online classes are also easy to ignore — a back-burner type of obligation for students to actively procrastinate — and we do. Personally, I find that guilt is a powerful motivator. Seeing my professors in class makes me more accountable. Maybe you’re the type of person who can actively schedule and organize your responsibilities, but I’m not, and I don’t think I’m an outlier.

Structure, whether we like it or not, is pretty integral to student sanity. While developing structure should be an individual ambition, the university experience is not often conducive to healthy and productive schedules. The way the U of S structures online classes can further remove the ability of students to take care of themselves and really do their best.

Moreover, taking a class online further opens the door to unhealthy behaviours like sleep deprivation. While online classes do offer more flexibility for students, allowing you to bring the classroom to your couch at three in the morning — is that conducive to forming healthy habits? Probably not.

It is a privilege to study at an institution like the U of S. We should be wary of choosing an online education over real-time learning when both options are available to us here. And, when they’re not, we should ask why.

Photo: Gabbie Torres

Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor

  • Guest

    Eh. I don’t usually get much out of having someone talk at me for 50-80 minutes straight, though I come to class anyway in case they actually say something important. So online learning would be more efficient, if it’s available. To each his own.

  • ShirleyCC

    Hi Emily, while there is much to gain from most in-person classes, there are many many students who don’t fit the typical profile (i.e. can attend all classes during the day) and online courses offers an opening where none would normally exist. I’ve taken 3 online courses in the past few years and I have actually had to interact MORE with my fellow students in discussions and projects than I ever would in a physical classroom. Being careful about which classes we offer online is crucial, but we should not rule it out altogether. It’s 2017 and I’m hoping we become more inclusive of different types of students and more tolerant, not less.