By Daniella Captain
GRCC offers online classes in a number a different courses ranging from psychology to poetry. Depending on what kind of student you are and how you learn best, online classes may be just right for you.
Professors teaching online classes use Blackboard as a simulated classroom structure. Once a student logs into Blackboard, they are counted as present in the class for that day in the week. Some professors vary on how many days a week they require a student to log-in, but Blackboard also has links that include discussion boards, course information, announcements and grades. These lead the student to their assignments, syllabus, and other tools to participate in the class.
I can say, honestly, that the first time I took an online class was last semester, it was a class I was really “psyched” to take, Abnormal Psychology. Unfortunately, I did not quite prepare myself well enough to succeed like I should have. I did not know how organized one must be to essentially teach one’s self. I would forget to post on the discussion board because the class was online and not in real life, the thought just didn’t cross my mind as often. The exams for me were not difficult but I always took too long because I knew I could not go back and change my answer, I even emailed my professor, Sherry Rhoden, apologizing for being over on the allotted time given to take each exam. This did not discourage me from taking online classes this semester though.
This winter semester I have three online classes. Now that I have done one and I know what to expect, I will know how to approach my learning better. But I do recommend that is anyone is going to take an online class, they should try to meet with the professor before class starts or email the professor about a possible tutorial on how to succeed in online classes. It is not for everyone but the professors of GRCC that do teach online classes do their best to help out students by answering emails every 24 hours and by putting tips on how to do well in their specific class in the course syllabus.
The upside to taking online classes is that during a 7-day week, you may attend to your coursework completely at your own leisure. You also eliminate extra commutes to the GRCC campus, and in doing so, you save gas and money.
Online classes are particularly convenient in the winter time when roads are worse and it’s almost more beneficial to stay at home and study then to come to class and have class overview study sessions lead by your professor. If you are a self-motivated student, online classes are for you.
There are downsides, however, to taking classes online like taking exams. Most exams taken online are timed, and I don’t know about you, but when I know I am being timed, it doesn’t matter if I read the whole book cover to cover, panic sets in and I second, third, and fourth guess myself on every question. During the exams you cannot go back to your question and change your answer, whereas in the classroom, all you have to do is erase. The difficult thing about taking exams online is that if you do not finish within the time you are given, which is around 40 minutes, you automatically get an F. This is because the professor cannot see you, they must assume the worst and that is that you did not finish in time because you were looking for the answers in the book or in your notes, which is cheating. So all test-takers that take their time may have to adjust and practice a little if they want to succeed in the online exam process.
For me, though, the upsides greatly outweigh the downsides. I can work my school into my own schedule, and honestly, learning on my own without the direct guidance of a professor leaves room for more exploration of the subject. I feel more in control and accomplished when I finish the semester knowing that, for intents and purposes, I taught myself.