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Online Educational Courses and Their Downside

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As time goes on online courses are becoming more and more prevalent in education. In 2014, it was estimated that 46% of college students were taking at least one online class in the 2014-2015 year. Also in 2014 it was projected that in 2019 about half of the students enrolled in college would be taking e-Learning based classes. (E-Learning Industry, 2014). USA Today took a survey of more than 1,000 students nationally, and it came back that 78% of those students indicated that they feel learning in a classroom is much easier than through the internet. (Devin Karambelas. USA Today, 2013). The need for a laptop or computer is kind of necessary now and students are either being forced to take part in an online class or choosing to; not knowing what it entails or how things will be completed or even the content of the class itself. The more broad definition of an online course is a transfer of skills and knowledge using a computer. (Success Degrees, 2014-2015)

Thinking about it, how many students can honestly say that they understand every aspect of what an online course asks of a person without having taken one before? Students do not really become aware of how those types of classes work until they get into it because no one takes the time to explain it to them beforehand. Yes, there are course descriptions but getting educated on a computer and learning in a physical classroom with a teacher and other students around are completely different styles of learning. Online courses are not the smartest educational routes because they do not let students develop completely in the social aspect, there is no face-to-face help or guidance right when needed and it is easier to fail online courses, and the technology needed for completing an online program is costly. Digital Commons states that “Students who freely choose online classes may have different characteristics than students who choose traditional, live classes.” It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do online classes, and as ridiculous as it is there are not a lot of really driven, determined and focused students out there. It takes a certain level of being able to manage time and plan out how the students will go about completing the eight to ten week course at hand. About 87% of students would procrastinate and save most of the work until a week before the due date and end up not being able to complete it at all, earning themselves a big fat F for the semester. (The Huffington Post, 2015). In a physical school, students are pushed to get their work done in a timely fashion, and it is not up to them when to get their assignments done-it is up to the agenda of the teacher.

This issue is worth discussing because more and more students are being given the option or being forced to take online classes when it might not be the best thing for their learning or education all together. This topic is important to me because I’ve taken two online courses and they’ve both given me not-so-pleasant experiences; with that being said, I am against online schooling. It takes away the chance to develop more on the social level with peers and face-to-face interactions with teachers or professors. NeaToday states that majority of online education teachers are only “contingent faculty members or uncertified in the state where their students live.” (2015). Online schooling is a detriment to social development because students do not get to work with any other students at all to gain the knowledge of how to work with others. Traditional education (as in physical classrooms) is better for the people that need face-to-face interaction and communication. When someone is deprived of those interactions with their instructors, they tend to not do as well with the work given to them. (Kendall Bird. Rasmussen College, 2014.) Online education is a very solitary way of learning, it is just the student and the program. Students learn valuable lessons during the times they can interact with others at their campus or school, whether it be during lunch or group activities or even just hanging out at dorms or each other’s houses after meeting through school. The early years of a young person’s life are the most important, and when those people are stuck in front of a computer screen for majority of it, how are they supposed to gain the world and social knowledge necessary to function in the day-to-day world with others?

Through technology students do not get the chance to ask questions at that exact moment they need help, they also do not get a response at the moment they need it either, unless someone is lucky enough to stumble upon an online class that has real time discussions-or something of that sort. It is all based on the response time of the online instructor’s willingness to check their email. There is also the worry of distraction while on the computer. Reading at Risk (2008) stated that literature competes with a large amount of electronic media; and as technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the average person’s life, reading takes a dive for the endangerment side. A table shown in CQ Researcher’s Online Learning article states that teachers who’ve taught both traditional education and online education have had the ending result of traditional learning excelling in meeting five of ten education goals brought to attention by the National Education Association. The five listed education goals were: addressing various student learning styles at 41% (vs. online at 33%) strengthening group problem-solving skills at 42% (vs. online at 27%), developing student interactivity at 47% (vs. online at 27%), improving verbal skills at 45% (vs. online at 24%) and delivering better oral presentations at 48% (vs. online at 18%), (CQ Researcher Online Learning, 1999).

Research by The New York Times has shown repeatedly that community college students who enroll in online courses are more likely to withdraw or fail than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend their hard-earned tuition money to get absolutely nothing in return. (The New York Times Company, 2015). In 2011, 51,000 Washington State Community College students that took online classes were studied, and those students that took online courses were most likely to drop out of them or even fail them than the students that participated in physical classes. (NeaToday, 2015).

The cost of a laptop or computer nowadays is crazy, and it does not even include the prices of the programs you would need to do the online course. With owning a laptop also comes needing to own a Wi-Fi router; which also costs money. As of 2014, the average laptop costs a mere $653.00, and wireless routers are between $40.00 and $80.00 for the most part. What college student (or any kind of student at all) has enough money laying around for that kind of shopping spree? On average, teenage males make about $177.00 per week at work, while females make about $170.00. (Hearst Newspapers, 2015). Teenagers, just like everyone else, have bills and things of importance to pay for as well-and it would take about three to four whole paychecks to just purchase the laptop itself; not even the wireless router or any other accessories the laptop might need like a mouse, a case or an insurance warrantee. Gaining access and getting accepted into certain programs is not the easiest thing to do either; some courses require certain incomes or ages; such as this: People that “attend” The Apollo Group Inc. (an online education system that runs over the University of Phoenix, Arizona with about 30,000 students enrolled compared to the 105,000 enrolled in the actual school itself) must be at least 23 years of age and employed. This Apollo system is strictly for education purpose only, and any student wishing for social, cultural and maybe even athletic development will not have the slightest chance getting that while in the online program. (CQ Researcher Online Learning, 1999). In the states of Florida, Michigan, Indiana, New Mexico, and Alabama, all entering 9th-graders are required to take at least one online class before they graduate. In Idaho of 2013, though, Tom Luna (state superintendent) wanted to take things to a new level and proposed to force students to take at least eight online courses, which would be basically one full year’s worth of education. The state board ended up settling on only taking two online courses; because they knew eight online classes would make the kids’ education suffer. (NeaToday, 2015). If given the information that most three credit-hour long courses online cost between $700.00-$900.00, that is comparable to the fees at most kind of middle-ranged traditional schools. A full degree from an online academy would be charging about $7,500.00 per semester, so that is about $30,000.00 for two years or four semesters. (“The Cost of Online College Courses: Closer to Traditional School Fees Than Many Expect.” Success Degrees, 2014).

Cheating in the test and schoolwork world has been around since practically the day tests, quizzes, exams and homework were created. Evidence sent out by Digital Commons reads that evidence of cheating precedes four times more in the work of online students, over the work of traditionally educated students. Achievement (test achievements, any kind of scored piece of work achievements) in traditional classes is at a higher percentage than for online classes. (Digital Commons, 2013).

On the flip side, online schooling creates schedule flexibility and social skills do not just come from interacting with people at school. Certain programs come with 24/7 online help with the things students get stuck on during the program. Almost everyone has a computer now, if a student does not have one they can usually find another one through someone else or go to a local library. There is also the situation of those who are not able to physically attend school; they might not have a choice on taking an online program and it might work out better for them that way. Some people also believe that although laptops and programs are pricy, it would still be the more financially sound choice to choose online learning over enrolling in a physical college or institute for their education. (John Cassidy. What is College Worth? The New Yorker, 2015). Comparatively speaking, the hundreds of dollars spent on tuition for a traditional school per semester will always be more than for an online class and a laptop added together. Digital Commons points out that online students tend to be older (averaging 23.5 years vs. traditional school students of about 20.7 years of age), more likely to be married (29% vs. 6%) and to have kids (21% vs. 4%). This could definitely pull for the side of the argument that online classes are way more flexible and an altogether better choice for some people in the world.

All in all online education is a detriment to a person’s social development, there is not any face-to-face help right when the student needs it, online classes are easier to fail and the cost of the technology needed for these types of courses is crazy. As years go on, more and more schools will be giving the option of or even demanding that their students take online courses, and although this learning only actually impacts a smaller percentage of students, the world of online learning will keep growing and growing.

In the table shown here, online courses end up proving worse than traditional classes in a ton of different categories. It definitely does worse in the columns reading ‘Providing instruction tailored to each individual’, ‘Providing high-quality instruction from well-qualified instructors’, ‘Providing a degree that will be viewed positively by employers’ and ‘Providing rigorous testing and grading that can be trusted’. Nowhere on this table does a green, or “Better” bar bypass a yellow (“The Same”) bar or a red (“Worse”) bar, as the table and statistics given get more and more detailed in what should be provided in a good education. Why risk a good education and social or world skills just to take part in a sort of solitary confinement?

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