Are Online College Classes and Traditional Classes Equal?
Online classes can be as hard as traditional college courses, sometimes even more so. Aside from the hardware and software requirements and learning how to use them simply to attend the course, there is the added factor of self-discipline to get the work completed.
As with any class, a syllabus outlining the course is provided. This document provides an overview of what topics will be covered at what point in the course. Some even provide details on longer projects required for the course and their completion dates.
Textbooks are generally required. These can be obtained either through the campus bookstore, ordered online, or downloaded in e-book format when available. Chapters are assigned to be read, sometimes questions at the end of the chapter need to be answered and submitted, just like a traditional classroom.
Each online class is as unique as the professors that conduct them. Some will require that class be virtually attended at a certain time and provide a link each week. Others require classmates to meet online on their own to collaborate on specific assigned projects. Active participation in discussion boards may be graded. There are deadline requirements for assignments to be submitted.
Exams are given online in the form of essays, multiple-choice, and fill in the blank. Essays require full analysis of the topic, as the student has full access to the learning materials. In the other formats, the difference between online exams and classroom exams is primarily time. Whereas the online student has access to notes, book, and the internet for tests, the time allowed to take the test is greatly reduced. Generally only 1-2 minutes are allotted per question. Some instructors require exams to be taken on a secure server, which denies access to web browsers.
An online class instructor will have a preferred method of contact for student questions. This may be through email or Skype during his or her regular office hours. The professor is under no obligation to remind class participants of upcoming deadlines. It is the student’s responsibility to complete all assignments and submit them on time, which requires self-discipline.
The online student must be prepared to commit an average of 3 hours per credit taken. This means that for a 4 credit course, 12 hours per week should be dedicated to the assignments for that class. This is the same time requirement formula that is used for traditional students. The primary difference is that traditional students meet twice or more per week as part of that time commitment, whereas online students must work it around other daily activities.
Online classes are a great way to earn a degree for someone who can set aside the time to get the work done on their own. These courses cover the same topics traditional classroom classes do. The same amount of time is expected to be devoted to each. The online student, however, has to be committed to the course to be successful.