Online classes may not be for everyone, study says

The ability to login to your classroom can be convenient for a wide range of students. Although, a study published by the University of California Davis shows that some students are not prepared for an online classroom.

The study found that community college students are less likely to pass the online version of a course. The study was conducted on 217,000 new community college students from 2009 to 2012 by assistant professor at the UC Davis School of Education, Cassandra Hart.

One of many factors that affect a student’s potential to pass an online course is the misconception students may have about taking online classes.

Nutrition Professor Dana Wassmer said students shouldn’t take an online course because they think it is an easier way to pass. She said Cosumnes River College offers online options for those students who can’t make it to a physical class.

“It gives them access to education,” Wassmer said. “So it’s not to make the class easier, in fact it’s not different than our face-to-face courses.”

Some students are blinded by the convenience of online education and fail to understand the similar standards that the online version of a class requires said horticulture Professor Dave Andrews.

“There’s a large amount of students who see the convenience aspect,” Andrews said. “But [students]don’t realize the amount of time they have to dedicate.”

Before taking an online class students should know the amount of time and effort the course is going to take and if they are willing to challenge themselves.

“Every individual has their own ability to be dedicated to a class,” he said.

Multiple professors who teach online course said that self-motivation is an important skill to be successful.

“For an online class, it has that little extra challenge of having a student be very self-motivated,” Wassmer said.

Instead of having a set time and place that students must meet for class, the time they focus on the online course is truly up to them.

“It takes students a certain level of experience and maturity to realize what it’s going to take to be successful,” said mathematics Professor Mary Martin.

Wassmer said passing courses online isn’t impossible but it is different and requires certain skills.

“Some will be more successful than others because they are self-motivated, they’re more of an independent studier, they have great reading comprehension,” Wassmer said. “Some of those skills are very helpful.”

Wassmer said she emphasizes the importance of creating personalized schedules to her online students because the freedom of the course isn’t great for some.

“Before you take an online class you have to know that you have do something for that class everyday,” said 22-year-old biology major Joshua LaCount, who has taken a variety of online classes.

Whether it is reading or homework, he said it is important to get into the habit of doing the class on your own.

However, for some students, no matter the level of self discipline, online education is their only option Martin said.

She said that the problem with online courses is that the students who are forced into it sometimes have such complicated lives that it can affect their success in the course.

Luckily, students today tend to be more comfortable texting and communicating through typing. Wassmer said this is a good skill to use in an online course because communication with the instructor can be beneficial, especially when life gets in the way of school.

Wassmer also said how good communication with the instructor of the course can help lead to more one-on-one help.

“It takes the students’ initiative to communicate and ask questions,” Wassmer said. “Because me, as an instructor, I won’t know you’re having difficulties.”

However, there is still a loss of translation when communicating digitally.

Wassmer said she has had trouble with students misreading her emails based on the mood they were in when they read it.

Some professors will still hold physical office hours for those students who need to speak face-to-face.

There is also a Desire2Learn sample online course that students can take to gauge if they are ready for an online class.

Although the success rates are lower, Wassmer said that gap is shrinking because online education is constantly evolving and will continue to do so.

“I don’t think it’s going away,” Wassmer said. “In fact, it is increasing.”