Do you want to see your teacher’s face?

I, like many of you, drag myself out of bed early in the morning in order to make my first class. I will be the first to admit I am not a morning person. I find that I am only functional after 10 a.m. and a cup of coffee. When my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., online classes suddenly sound a lot more appealing. But are they really? I have taken face-to-face courses at each of the four campuses and taken online courses too. For me personally it depends on numerous factors. These include things such as the subject, the teacher and their style of teaching. I find some teachers are just better in person, and some aren’t. I have had teachers that have a style of teaching that is lively and interactive and makes learning fun. I have looked forward to those classes knowing that I will stay engaged and learn something useful. I have also had classes where the teacher reads off the PowerPoint so much it leaves me wondering – couldn’t I just sit at home and read it to myself and get the same results? When the class is early morning or late at night, this makes me demotivated. I am all for learning from experience, but sometimes when teachers base the entire class on their personal experience it becomes an autobiography and not a college course. I want to learn about professional experiences, but I also want to ensure I learn enough so that I can find my own solutions in unique situations I will find myself in one day. I think the subject is also important when considering whether to sign up for a face-to-face or online class. Certain topics can be easily accommodated on discussion boards, through case studies and research papers. However, not all activities are easily transferred from the classroom onto the online forum. There is a big difference between in-class discussions and online discussions. Every online discussion I have been a part of has consisted of people stating their opinion, then other people just agreeing with the opinion. This is not done because they want to validate someone else’s opinion but they are commenting to earn the points allocated for learner’s responses to their peers. Yes, I too have done this. In class I have had discussions that were in depth and have challenged my opinions and views. Online discussions cannot replicate that. But that is not the only thing that cannot be replicated. If you think of any in-class activities that you may have done before, ask yourself would this work online? For example, when taking online courses there are no group presentations, no listening skills activities, etc. Many students enjoy the social interaction that face-to-face learning brings. It is important to learn soft skills such as communication in order to function in a workplace. However, so much is done through technology now that maybe the online learning environment is actually preparing you better than face-to-face courses. It is harder for an online class to be interrupted since learners work according to their own schedule.  Some classes are difficult for students to attend since work and children’s schedules often conflict with parents’ college schedules. Then there is the testing element. Online tests are basically open book tests where students can use their textbooks as a reference guide. If you are blatantly reading the material off the pages, has learning occurred? In my opinion, it depends. If you know where to find the information, and know how to apply the information, it shows that there was a transfer of knowledge. But if you are mindlessly guessing answers and never reading chapters, you are not learning and you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in the future. How many in-class tests have a section that allows for open book? In my experience, most of them. So this would have the same pros and cons of online testing. In conclusion, students need to consider the courses they are looking into and think about the necessary elements that will either help or hurt their learning before registering. Ask around, find what others’ opinions about the course were, find out if the delivery method was conducive to the materials, ask about the teacher’s style, maybe even visit But whatever you decide, commit to the learning experience, embrace the pros and cons and focus on success. There is no right or wrong way, it only has to be right for you.