Online classes get Corsairs on course

Roger Morante

Alyson Feldman
September 15, 2011
Filed under Opinion

There is a significant difference between getting your education through online classes and learning at school. So, one ought to wonder – which is better and more effective?

The answer to that is based on each individual’s learning style and preferences, but recent studies show that online classes are better than normal ones and that should be useful for students seeking a more flexible schedule.

SMC’s online classes are gaining prominence, as “retention and success rates for online classes increased by nearly 10 percent over the past several years,” according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Data Mart.

The number one reason why people take online classes is because they are convenient and flexible. Even those who were too late signing up for classes on campus, may still get lucky by snatching an online class.

According to the minutes of SMC Board of Trustees’ Sept. 6 meeting, “the Santa Monica College Distance Education Program continues to be a viable option for students who might otherwise be forced to extend, delay or forfeit their educational goals due to the logistics of their busy and now very mobile lives.”

This proves that SMC understands the importance of online classes for students with hectic schedules.

Not only do online classes offer these advantages, but it is also very helpful to those who have learning disabilities or different learning styles. Some students have issues with focusing or paying attention in class and prefer a more one-on-one education.

Online classes are more personal and could be less distracting than the actual classroom.

Some students wish to take all of their classes online and may be very successful at it, depending on how focused, motivated and available they are.

“To appreciate the sheer volume of new online students, during the year 2010-2011, 2,262 students enrolled in their first online class at Santa Monica College,” according to the Board of Trustees.

They also state that online classes fill up quickly and stay full throughout the enrollment phase. “New online student user profiles are created every day in the SMCOnline database.”

Online education is easy to access and provides a more convenient way to homework assignments, exam schedules, test scores and other necessities.

Most online learning environments are accessible from a standard internet connection and typically require average home computer systems. Plus, with online classes, you can set your own schedule that suits your daily lifestyle.

It can be said that the down side to online schooling is the lack of in-person interactions between students and teachers. Working with other groups of students and doing hands-on activities are the upsides of learning in a classroom.

Still, that only applies to those who prefer the personal interactions of the classroom, interactions that many of the online students don’t miss.

The only way to really find out if online classes are right for you is to try them out. SMC offers a variety of online classes for students who prefer not to commute to campuses, which is what makes the SMC Distance Education program so successful. Online classes yield the same units, content, and transfer potential as the classes on campus.

A number of four-year colleges accept online course credits, including most of the CSUs and the UCs. To some people, online classes are a mark of insufficient dedication, a sign that the student isn’t ready for “real classes” taken on campus.

But as I see it, online classes are just as real, effective and informative as on-campus classes.

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