Online education as an alternative to on-campus education

Students should view online education as a viable learning tool

Becky Han, Staff Assistant

It’s no question that the use of technology is one of the most popular, yet controversial, topics regarding 21st century education.  With profound advancements in the Internet and the extensive spreading of new technologies, the popularity of online education has continued to increase for the thirteenth consecutive year.

Around 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses nationally, and over a quarter of higher education students are taking at least one online course.

Why do so many students choose to pursue an online education?  While the drawbacks of this relatively new method of teaching are often stressed as reasons for students to steer clear from it, the overwhelming benefits of online classes must be considered as well.

Taking online courses enables students to be much more flexible with their study schedule, as they are able to listen to lectures and complete coursework according to their own schedules.  While there may be required meetings with a class or an instructor at a specific time, they tend to be infrequent.

With this adaptability, students will become better at keeping up with their other responsibilities, as they can continue the course material at their own convenience and pace.

Thus, the ever-expanding availability and popularity of online courses has made it possible for those who have to raise a family or work a proper opportunity to obtain an education.

“I believe that there has been a proliferation of online learning because it comes with many benefits, such as allowing students to take their time and learn at their own pace,” said sophomore Audri Wong.

Unlike on-campus courses that demand students to be in class by designated times, online classes offer boundless access to course material, and the only criteria are access to a computer and Internet connection.  Students are generally able to work through the classes at their own speed, with the rare exceptions of occasional group discussions or mandatory live lectures.

This is especially helpful for when students feel the need to go back and review the material for exams as they are able to simply log in and look over past coursework and lectures with ease instead of trying to remember what their professors mentioned in class.

By partaking in this method of education, students also gain a newfound level of independence and self-motivation.  As students are able to go through the material at their leisure, they develop time management skills in order to get through the college-level course work on their own.  This further encourages self-discipline, since an essential characteristic of taking online courses is to take the initiative to both motivate and direct oneself.

Furthermore, students are not required to take general education courses if they choose to take online education.  Therefore, they will be able to finish their online college degree faster than a traditional degree program, since they are only required to take the courses needed to graduate.

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of schools that offer online programs.  This growing availability directly accounts for the rising variety of courses offered online, where students should be able to find a program that fits their needs or one that is an option solely in the online program.

“Online classes seem to be really useful for those who need the flexibility in their schedules,” said sophomore Gaby Chu.

In addition to the array of benefits that come with taking courses online, the primary factor that prompts the majority of students to choose this alternative is that the cost is typically much lower than regular classroom classes.  Attending the college itself requires students to spend money in sustaining dorm life; however, taking courses online allows them to no longer account for the costs of expensive housing and transportation.

The argument against the effectiveness of online education is still evident in society today, with those on the other side claiming that students are losing the full on-campus college experience and will have but limited opportunities to talk face-to-face with their fellow peers and teachers.  While online learning may not be the right fit for everybody, especially for those who lack the motivation to complete their schoolwork or need to form close relationships with their teachers in order to succeed, the obvious advantages of it must not be overlooked.  As inexpensiveness, flexibility, and self-development all come with taking this alternative, the major benefits of online education are abundant.