While making an effort to increase the amount of online courses to 25 percent of total classes, it will be important for Grand Rapids Community College administrators to not only advertise convenience to students but also think about the quality of learning for students with diverse learning types.
Online classes can be very convenient for students who live far from campus or are too busy to meet at the scheduled times. It can also be beneficial to refer back to a lecture posted online.
But considering the classes that are completely online with the only teaching coming from an online lecture or a book, there may be something lost there.
In a classroom, there is the ability to have discussion, for students to ask questions, and for there to be active, involved learning. Some would say these aspects of a classroom are vital for quality learning.
To complete an undergraduate class without ever meeting the instructor or any of the other students also seems odd. People enroll in college to learn, but there is the social aspect that people don’t really have another chance to experience in their lifetimes. People meet lifelong friends in college, and it is a time when people find themselves and grow socially. Can this happen when college students only meet virtually?
However, some are willing to sacrifice the classroom time for a more convenient learning experience.
A problem with online classes is they do not cater to every type of learner. Some people just don’t do well without live discussion, and some people just don’t do well learning from a book, especially in the computer age when a lot of young people are easily distracted.
At the same time, there are people who may not learn as well in live classroom settings as they would in a virtual classroom.
This is why GRCC administrators should make students more aware of tests available to determine learning type and whether or not online classes would be a good idea. There is a link on GRCC’s website at grcc.edu/dlreadiness for a test to help determine online learning is a good choice, but not a lot of students know this webpage exists, and at press time, the link was broken.
Emails are sent to students before online classes begin to help prepare, but students need to know more about what it takes to be successful in an online course before they commit to them.