Salt Lake Community College offers online courses that offer advantages like flexible scheduling. Online courses also have disadvantages for students.
“I didn’t really like [my online course] because I felt like there was no real set structure. There was nothing to keep me on track,” says SLCC Nursing Student Tim Spittler. “I like the constant interaction [in a traditional Classroom]I receive from my instructor, and I can ask lots of questions. Also, I learn a lot by listening to the discussion.”
A student who desires the regimentation of an on-campus class may find an online course difficult, while a self-starter may benefit from the free-form online environment.
“I have a full-time job, and I need to take classes [in order to obtain a degree in accounting] that will conform to my schedule,” says accounting student Alice Ross. “I really like the online classes because of the schedule flexibility. I’ve done well in those classes.”
For on-campus classes, the time required to commute to school and the price of gas and parking take their toll on her finances and energy.
“If I’m tired after a long day at work, I can rest when I get home,” Ross says. “If not, I go to school in my own house. What could be better?”
Rod Buhler teaches Computer Essentials as a live lecture course as well as an online course at SLCC.
“The campus courses I teach give my students plenty of opportunities to communicate with me,” says Buhler. “I am able to answer their questions easily, and they can continue to communicate with me as they are in the middle of their coursework. That student interaction is very important.”
Buhler has had a better success rate with students in his campus courses. He believes that a lack of self-motivation may be the biggest problem for students who struggle with online courses.
“While I have not seen as many of my online students succeed as I would have liked, I believe that [online course] reality is inescapable,” said Buhler.