Students Go Cyber

Brittany Hayes, Reporter

Registration time has arrived and many students are looking into online classes.

Fred Croop, Dean of Professional Studies and Social Sciences, said students say they can easily fit them into hectic schedules.

“The number one reason stu- dents look to online courses that always comes up in the surveys is convenience, being able to fit the course in when you can and do the work quite often when it’s most advantageous.”

Junior Alissa Burke has taken online and traditional classes and said online work offers flexibility.

“For those with full-time jobs or even mothers, it allows the person to do the work when their schedule allows.”

Many students who return home during the summer say online courses are a way they can still receive a MU education and in the comfort of their own homes.

Still, Croop said there are advantages and disadvantages to an online delivery system.

“Most often in the summer, you are doing a few courses. The shorter period of time is a disadvantage, but the fact that you’re only doing a few courses is an advantage.”

By the same token, students can, in some cases, take online courses during a regular semester period.

“During the regular semester you have the whole 15 weeks so it makes it more manageable, but for most students, they are taking more courses and that makes it more difficult,” stated Croop.

Online classes share the same curriculum and objectives as traditional classes, and someone taking an online course for the first time should not expect it to be easier than traditional ones, he said.

“A lot of people who sign up for their first online class think that because of the convenience and because they don’t have to sit in class that it will be less work or the same amount of work, but what we find over and over again with that first online class is that they get shocked by the amount of work they have to do to keep up with the class.”

Burke said she was surprised by the amount of online work.

“It was a lot harder. I had a non-traditional professor who actually was never on campus when I was taking my course. He only responded to emails during a certain time, so if it wasn’t that time you’d have to wait sometimes two days for a response.”

Many students and teachers prefer traditional course offerings because personal interaction often helps students to better understand the content. Croop said teachers receive face-to-face cues.

“Live, interactivity, voice inflections, and body language – a lot of that is missed online. Sometimes things can’t be as effectively communicated. During a 50 minute class, if you want to raise your hand and ask a question when it’s most appropriate for you to ask a question, you have that opportunity in most cases. You do have that opportunity in online classes, but it may not be immediate.”

Still, many students benefit from the type of interaction provided in online course platforms.

“A lot of times, the people who like the online courses are the ones who in live courses, can’t get their hands up quickly enough to respond and can’t process or reflect on things quickly enough to respond. They are more introverted, but in online courses they get to reflect because they get to think about what they are saying and make sure it’s exactly what they want to communicate.”

Croop thinks course preferences might be driven by the student’s personality.

“I find that students I often I don’t see participating in live classes, for one or more of those reasons, are leaders in online classes. So depending upon what your personal learning style is and what your personality is, sometimes online courses, for some people, can be an even better learning experience,” said Croop.

Another plus to online courses is that the university get can expert faculty who are located far from campus to teach.

“Our students can benefit from her expertise and her ability where they wouldn’t be able to if we only had face-to-face classes.”

Both Burke and Croop offered some study tips to students who are taking online courses for the first time.

Burke said students must stay on top of their work.

“Keep up with it every day and more than once a day,” Croop said.

Croop also wants students to go into their first online course as prepared as possible.

“You need to look at the material ahead of time, not the day the class starts or two days later. Most of the teachers will be sending out materials ahead of time. You have to watch, be ready, prepare in advance. That first class you take will be a learning experience and is probably the best way to learn how to take an online class.”

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