Online classes are the future

Shanel Royal

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Education plays a key part to society. More and more people are going to college to learn, to get better jobs or to enhance skills for a job they already have. Online classes are a growing part of the education system and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $37 million budget for the increase of online classes for colleges in California with $10 million going to California State Universities.

An increase of online classes will help cut the impaction of majors on campus. Many students can’t get into certain programs because the seats are full. With an option to attend online courses, students can get the classes they need to graduate.

Some students deal with factors outside of school that affect their daily plans such as jobs and children. These students create their own schedule and do assignments when it’s most convenient for them.

“I like it because I can work at my own pace and do the quizzes as many times as I need,” said freshman construction management major Nicholas O’Donnell about taking a hybrid class.

Online courses also eliminate common commuting issues; students don’t have to travel, find a parking space or walk across campus with the fear of being late to class.

According to the Office of Institutional Research website, Sacramento State admitted 24,483 of the 33,485 students who applied in fall 2012. Some weren’t admitted because of a space limit. Online classes will help lower the amount of people declined.

Classrooms hold only so many people before it becomes a safety hazard. Campuses would have to physically expand in order to fit every student that applies. More students will be able to go to CSUs if the courses are offered online.

Not getting into classes stretches out the time it takes to graduate. Online classes help students finish school in a shorter amount of time.

Kevin Wehr, president of the Sac State chapter of the California Faculty Association, said he feels campuses should not move solely online. He thinks online classes can benefit students, but it is important for the traditional classroom to stay in existence.

“I am of the opinion that you can do an online class well and students can get as much out of an online class as a face-to-face class, but it takes a lot of work on behalf of the faculty member and it takes a lot of work on behalf of the students,” Wehr said.

Not everyone agrees with taking classes virtually. Jamie Lyons, freshman biological sciences major, said she feels online classes are not enough of a challenge.

“I try to avoid them because I feel you don’t get the most of those classes,” Lyons said. “I feel like it’s really easy just to pass them and not have the full experience with a professor.”

Online classes are convenient and, with some improvement, can be more efficient than they are now. Sections need more availability for students to interact with each other as well as with the professor. Some already offer platforms such as discussion forums, chat rooms and Skype, but this needs to be offered in every online classroom.

Students will benefit from interaction with their peers by being able to address similar problems or concerns with homework assignments.

Also, the cost of tuition for online classes should be lowered. Sac State students pay the same amount to attend school online as those who physically come to campus.

“I don’t want to be paying $3005 to sit in front of my computer,” O’Donnell said.

Students shouldn’t have to pay as much for on campus services, such as the Union and health services fees, when they may never set foot on campus.

Lawmakers need to gather more information on the effectiveness of taking and completing classes online. Surveys and studies can determine how students view their experience of taking virtual courses.

While taking courses via the Internet will not replace the traditional classroom, Brown’s push for online education will open many opportunities for students who couldn’t take online classes. The process will be slow, but Brown is headed in the right direction.

 

Shanel can be reached at: shanelroyal@csus.edu