The rising popularity of the online course


Eric Bailey

Startup Stock Photos

Ella Shepherd

There are many different methods of learning in our modern world and today’s technology has given us access to a new way of teaching.

With the surge of computers, smartphones and tablets that have been integrated into most classes, it is not a surprise that students have started taking full courses online.

Most universities offer students the opportunity to learn material through an online interface.

Appalachian State is one such school that allows students to take these courses during either the regular school year or summer sessions.

There are many benefits to taking an online course. For example, if you need to add a couple hours of credit towards your GPA, taking an online course is a great way to get those hours over the summer.

According to a panel of students who learn under iNacol, a non-profit organization that strives to teach children through online courses only, many of them prefer the setup of an online course compared to an in-class course.

It is beneficial to the students who need to move at a slower pace to feel like they do not have to rush to keep up with the class. It is also beneficial to the students who want to get ahead because they already have access to all of the course material.

However, online courses require just as much hard work, if not more, than a regular class.

When working online, you are expected to take the materials that are provided to you and teach yourself.

Shannon Anderson, a junior elementary education major, said that she prefers a face-to-face experience with her professors. “It’s easier to get my questions answered. Having that one-on-one interaction with your professor is really helpful,” Anderson said.

Anderson took her first online course this past summer and is taking another one this semester.

She brought up a valid point. Many students find that it is easier for them to learn when they are actually required to go to class, rather than relying on themselves to teach themselves the information that is provided to them.

Having a professor lay everything out in a neat little package is often a blessing.

However, others find it easier to have all of their material in one place and enjoy the fact that they do not have to rely on their professors as much to teach the course material.

A 2016 study by the Babson Survey Research Group shows that 28 percent of higher education students are enrolled in at least one online course.

By taking an online course, an Appalachian student is encouraged to check ASUlearn daily in order to keep up with their assignments.

This daily motivation, Anderson said, “makes me more aware of all of my assignments on ASUlearn and makes me more likely to check ASUlearn.”

Much of Anderson’s time is taken up with extracurriculars, which is why she preferred to take a course online this semester.

“The class is offered both in class and online, but I chose the online portion because the actual class period is roughly two and a half hours when you only need one hour,” Anderson said.

Additionally, for those students who find themselves in a tight spot academically and need to use their summer to earn a few extra credits, online courses solve many problems in one fell swoop.

Students are not as bogged down with the weight of other classes or extracurricular responsibilities during the summer as they are during the school year. Summer online courses allow students to focus on one topic without having to leave home or sacrifice a summer job.

There are both pros and cons to taking online courses, depending on one’s daily schedule.

While many prefer the easy access that accompanies having all of one’s course material laid out ahead of time, others prefer to make a face-to-face connection with their professors.

As modern technology becomes more available to the public, one thing is clear: as long as our society is dependent on this technology, the online course will continue to become more and more popular.

Ella Shepherd is a sophomore, Communications and Journalism major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.