What nobody tells you about online classes

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Courtney Collar

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What nobody tells you about online classes

There are only six periods in a school day, seven for music students who choose to do so, and four core classes. That leaves only two hours free for a language course, VPAA credits, gym class, or Health. While our counselors do their best to piece together a schedule customized for each student’s likes and all the requirements, some things are just impossible. For example, you can’t take French 3 and write for The Central Trend during sixth hour, the only hour these classes run. Taking a course online seems pretty attractive when faced with this predicament.

Everyone talks about how online classes are the easy way out. There are no strict deadlines, and you can work at whatever pace you wish. You basically have a free hour to do other homework and whatever else you want. Online classes are pure gold compared to listening to a real, physical teacher monotonously drawl on and on.

However, online classes are merely gilded in gold. Beneath the exterior, they are worse than your least favorite class. Unless you are out of options or dead-set on it, you should never take classes online. There are so many things nobody ever tells you about an online class.

Each day, the course prepares a number of activities and assignments for the students to complete. In French 3, each day would contain at least one reading assignment and speaking assignment, a grammar lesson or vocabulary lesson, and an application of skills. While this sounds simple enough, I assure you, it is not. It isn’t feasible to finish all of that in an hour. Additionally, in regards to language courses, all the directions are in said language, forcing you to spend time translating and comprehending them before you can even work on the assignment.

I don’t understand how the providers of the classes determine what is too much for a student to complete in an hour and what is too little. Often, I spent the whole hour in school working and then went home to spend another hour trying to stay on track. Online classes are a huge time commitment, and it is so easy to fall behind. Once you are behind, it is incredibly difficult to catch back up. You tend to forget that the class, in this way, is like a marathon, not a sprint.

The fact that the class is online only makes it harder. You have to have certain software and have updated your computer to standards. The computer itself must be able to record and insert headphones. If you forget something or the computer doesn’t work, you will probably end up behind in the class. Too many times, I forgot headphones and had to try to make up for the lost time at home.

They are also harder because the transition into an online class is surprisingly tricky. The classes are not created specifically from our school’s curriculum, so they don’t pick up exactly where you left off. You might end up learning material you studied last year or even two years ago, instead of new information. Transitioning back to a traditional classroom after a semester of online can also be an obstacle because of this.

One main thing taking an online class makes you realize is how nice it is to have a teacher. You don’t realize how much they aid your learning until you go without one. Yes, there is a “mentor” in the classroom with you and someone grading your work, but it isn’t the same. Even your that teacher that everyone claims “doesn’t teach them anything” is, without a doubt, better than having no significant teacher.

It’s not that teaching yourself isn’t hard because it is; it is more that there is no one to help you through the small struggles, no one to clarify minuscule details. You can’t raise your hand and ask a question. You can’t come to school for extra help before or after school. You can’t have someone break down a lesson in more depth to help you understand it. You have to take what the course gives you and work with it.

More often than not, the “teacher” for your online class couldn’t care less about you. They only care about grading what you turn into them. The “teachers” won’t help you stay on pace or teach you helpful tricks to simplify tough lessons. To them, you are just a name on a screen. They can’t see your absences or GPA. They don’t know your aspirations or work ethic. These “teachers” are the epitome of an impersonal relationship.

Furthermore, a casualty of this disconnected relationship is communication. When it comes to those rare due dates, it can be confusing.  The mentor in the classroom may say one thing, the website another, and your online “teacher” yet another. There is no sense of leniency when these miscommunications occur because the “teacher” does not know you.

Before you take an online course, please think about these things. Despite what everyone believes, they are not easier. Rather, they create extra complications as well as take up your time with more work.