The questions and comments I get when I tell someone that I really enjoy taking my courses online range from one extreme to the other: “Wow, really? I could never take online classes. I hear they’re really hard.” Or “Oh, really? Why, ’cause they’re super easy right?” The short answer to each of the above questions: No. Once and for all, I’d like to set the record straight. Here are three things I’d like everyone to know about online learning.
1. Are online courses too easy/hard?
Taking online courses isn’t about whether they are “easier” or “harder” than taking courses conducted in person. After all, this is your education we’re talking about here, so you should want some challenges. Challenges are good because they are always going to exist and you can’t escape them. Learning how to overcome challenges now will most definitely help you with your future endeavors, whatever they may be. You shouldn’t necessarily be looking for an easy cop-out, because in the real world there typically is never an easy way out. Like poet the Robert Frost once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
2. Would I have the time to learn online?
In my (sometimes) unpopular opinion, my love for online education stems from the convenience of it. I am a person who is always on the go: I work two jobs while completing my education, and I try to find time for myself and the things I love to do. For the most part, all online courses have the same format: You have a week to complete the assignments that the professor posts at the beginning of each week. There is a discussion board every week where you have to make an initial post and then post a thoughtful response to two or three other students' posts.
3. Do you have to be super organized to learn online?
The best way to describe online courses is that much like anything else in life, it’s all what YOU make of it. Sure if you’re not an organized, timely person and you’re the all-time master of procrastination, then I can see how the workload would pile up and you would not handle the material all too well. However, I was this person once, too, and I can vouch that taking online courses has taught me how to prioritize my time and balance my assignments on top of work, a few classes conducted in person, and free time for myself.
I had my fears and doubts when I signed up for my first online class last trimester, but I ended up loving them. With the new age of technology, online courses are becoming extremely popular, and more students are becoming less reluctant to give them a try. Millennials, like me, were basically born programmed to use a computer and are quite comfortable learning on the Internet. Many enjoy the ease and convenience of being able to learn on their own time and schedule, and most always have Internet access in the palm of their hand via iPhone or some sort of tablet. And it seems I’m not alone in my choice: According to “The Millennial Generation Research Review,” an article posted on the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation, virtual learning is on the rise, with 31 percent of all higher education students now taking at least one course online. As technology evolves, education might begin to shift entirely is this direction — and then more people will have fewer questions and more answers about learning online.