Online courses have risen in popularity as society advances further into the digital era.
There are many reasons students might prefer a digital classroom, and the amount of people attending online or hybrid courses each semester shows the quality of learning is satisfactory.
Online learning allows more individuals to have access to quality learning from wherever they are located, thus eliminating distance as a barrier.
“It’s cool to know there are K-12 educators who have to take a professional development class … and while I make them introduce themselves, some will say they live upwards to 5-6 hours away from Salt Lake City,” says Virag White, an assistant professor in Salt Lake Community College’s Visual Art and Design department.
SLCC professor Rob Adamson thinks individuals with learning disabilities can also benefit from online classes.
“Online learning makes it less common for people to say a classroom environment isn’t for them,” Adamson says.
Technology is one of the best things to happen to online learning, because phones, computers and iPads can do so much now.
“If I would have given out some of the assignments that I give out now five or ten years ago, it would have taken four weeks at least just to get them used to the software and functionality of certain equipment,” says Jessica Curran, an associate professor in Visual Art and Design.
However, when it comes to courses that are more hands on, online learning might not be the best choice.
“When teaching and training to join the workforce within certain programs, it helps to understand what the workforce is using,” says Ed Rosenberger, an associate professor in Visual Art and Design.
Considering students often take online classes to accommodate unique schedules, communication issues may arise between professors and students. In Curran’s opinion, access to feedback is critical.
“Having responsive critiques and communication is the biggest issue online courses cause,” Curran says.
Rosenberger agrees that when it comes to offering critiques, students can miss out on the human interaction that seems to be more meaningful and impactful for improvement.
Within the next few years, online learning is expected to be a primary aspect of the education system. In addition to external sites and resource guides, SLCC also offers its own online resources for students.
“Students need to know we offer a 24-hour hotline they can call or message for help troubleshooting a problem, whether it be a site that is down or not working,” says Bob Lindsay, an assistant director with SLCC Online.
Visit SLCC Online for more information about online classes and resources.