How could there possibly be any disadvantages of online
courses? Read on.
1. Online courses require more time than on-campus
Believe it or not, you will spend more time studying
and completing assignments in the online environment than you will in an
on-campus course. How can that be? The online environment is text-based. To
communicate with your instructor and other students, you must type messages,
post responses and otherwise communicate using your fingers (i.e. through
typing). As you can probably guess, typing is slower than speaking. (Try reading
each word as you type it and compare the difference if you had spoken the same
thing.) In the same sense, reading your lecture materials can take more time
than listening to an instructor deliver them, although spoken lectures have a
distinct disadvantage. If you are sitting in a classroom, it's likely that
you'll miss a good percentage of what the instructor says, no matter how focused
you are. It's human nature to zone out for brief periods of time. When you are
reading, you will have a tendency to go back over the notes if you miss
something and that takes more time. The point is that you will likely learn more
in an online environment, but you will have to make a greater effort to
accomplish that learning.
2. Online courses make it easier to procrastinate.
Just as there is a dark side to that controversial
property known as the Force, there is a dark side to Internet-based courses. The
dark side starts with procrastination. Procrastination is to a student what
Darth Maul is to Qui Gon. Procrastination will chop you to bits in an online
course. There is no one to tell you to get to class on time. There is no one
reminding you that assignments are due or that exams are coming. There is no one
to preach to you, beg with you, plead with you to stay on top of your
coursework. (Sounds pretty good, huh?) It's easy to put off reading and
assignments in the online environment. Before you know it, weeks have gone by,
you haven't done any homework and it's exam time. Scary bad. Creepy anxious. Too
3. Online courses require good time-management
An Internet-based course demands that you develop
personal time-management skills. As with most things, if you don't manage your
time properly, you will find yourself buried beneath a seeming insurmountable
mountain of coursework. Online courses require the self-discipline to set aside
chunks of time to complete your studies. It means you have to make online
studying a priority and not let other activities interfere. Sometimes, it means
making difficult choices.
4. Online courses may create a sense of isolation.
In an online course, no one can hear you scream. And
that causes discomfort for some online students. Studying alone with only the
computer as your companion can be terrifying. There's no whispering in the back
of the room, no wise remarks from the peanut gallery, no commanding presence at
the front of the classroom pleading for everyone to listen. The online
environment is a much different atmosphere that takes some getting used to.
Hopefully, your online instructor is sensitive to this problem and can help you
overcome those feelings. In any case, you should be aware of them and seek help
if they start to impede your studies. A quick e-mail to a classmate, your
instructor or a counselor can help you feel better connected if the sense of
community you seek is missing.
5. Online courses allow you to be more independent.
In my opinion, it's a much better situation for the
student. By the time a student enters a community college, they want to be
independent. They don't want someone telling them what to do all the time. They
want is their freedom. (At least, that's how I was when I went to college.)
6. Online courses require you to be an active
It's a sink or swim proposition and you can't have it
both ways. If you desire to become a responsible, self-sufficient, independently
minded citizen of this planet, then now's the time to start. Life is not a dress
rehearsal. Get busy with it.
7. Online courses don't have an instructor hounding
you to stay on task.
I also think it's an advantage for the instructor. I
don't have to become the all-powerful Oz and threaten you with dire consequences
if you don't do your work. I don't have to control you, manipulate you, scold
you, act like a parent or babysitter to you. I can treat you like an adult with
the respect that you deserve.
8. Online courses give you more freedom, perhaps,
more than you can handle!
This freedom can be dangerous if you don't learn how to
9. Online courses require that you find your own
path to learning.
Personally, I think it is far better to let students
find their own way. Instructors can be beacons, lighthouses of knowledge, so to
speak, but we can't steer the ship. Hopefully, everyone makes it safely to
harbor. Occasionally, someone shipwrecks. But in all cases, everyone learns, and
I think that is important.
10. Online courses require you to be responsible for
your own learning.
Only you are responsible for your learning. I can't
force it on you. I can't make you study. I can share a little knowledge and
experience, show you a few tools and hope you get it. The spark and desire to
pursue your dreams must be yours.
So, in a philosophical sort of way, the real
disadvantage to an Internet-based course is that you might not own up to it. You
might not take responsibility for your studies and your goals. You might get way
behind and never catch up.
Copied with permission from Sean Chamberlin, Fullerton