Online courses demand more of our students

Illustration by Myah Anglin | The Signal

The fall semester at Georgia State is almost over, since campuses reopened, students have had to choose how they would prefer their classes administered. Due to the recent pandemic and a push towards social distancing, students were given a choice: take your classes online or take blended courses.

Blended classes meet at least once a week physically, and the rest is online. Online courses function virtually, either synchronously or asynchronously. Some professors offer weekly class meetings, but many do not.

Despite being more practical for safety, online classes are more demanding than the blended courses we have here at Georgia State. Senior Tanzina Rashid McCormack finds it is harder due to not having physical help.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to check the due dates for my online assignments, and I am taking statistics this semester, and it’s harder to get help since I am used to physically going to the professor for help,” she said.

Despite the apparent pros of going online, online classes have proved a challenge for many students. With blended courses, you get to meet your professor every week. You have the option of asking for assistance in person or collaborating with your peers on assignments.

When everything is online, there are more distractions in the area in which you work. It is not like a classroom. In a classroom setting, everything falls into order. There are limited distractions; with a professor there, it is harder to get on your phone when boredom threatens your concentration.

Of course, online classes’ appeal includes the freedom of not having to attend classes on specific days or at specific times. Blended and in-person instruction have schedules that must be adhered to, with attendance being a significant part of your grade in that class. However, just because it is convenient does not mean it should always be a choice. McCormack disagreed.

“The benefits I get for staying at home instead of going to the campus is I don’t have to spend more money on MARTA or gas for my car, plus with the comfort of my own home I can take tests with more ease since a professor isn’t there that would make me nervous,” she said.

What if you get stuck on something in one of your classes? You will have to go an extra step to understand it. You have two options when you are having trouble with something in online courses. One of them is to email your professor to whom you are assigned. 

This is difficult because if you are someone like me, it can be incredibly intimidating to contact your professor via email. While it is encouraged from time to time, this does not mean it ever gets less intimidating. The second option is to book an online appointment to the Georgia State tutor website called TutorOcean

TutorOcean is even more intimidating because you have to go through all of these steps to book an appointment to get the help you need. Let’s face it: Booking a tutoring appointment is more out of the way than emailing your professor or going to the library for a tutoring session. Some people have anxiety when doing something like that.

Going to an actual campus helps you work out your social anxiety more since you are encouraged to talk to people in the class, whether about a homework assignment or a group project.    

Despite being more practical, online classes make you go the extra steps to learn the material. You have to go the extra mile, from one assignment to the other. If you are taking a full course of classes online, it is harder to do because most of the time, it is like you are teaching yourself.

Online, you are in charge of doing the discussions, taking the notes and remembering and understanding the things you were taught. What will happen if you still do not understand the material? 

There is always a limit to everything we do by ourselves. We cannot always learn without help, especially if we do not understand a concept in one of your courses online. More than likely, once you convince yourself you can do this entirely alone, you will eventually fall behind. 

Online courses are more difficult for many students, especially those who want to do everything themselves. Despite having every resource for you to get help when you need it, it is just more intimidating this way. 

If you are more introverted or have extreme social anxiety, they find these things intimidating. As someone who fits both of those categories with online classes, I try to do these things by myself to stay inside my comfort zone.