Online Class: Access Information in the 21st Century

I took an online class at Wake Forest University, in which I found the experience very different. So I would like to share it here.

Teaching Computer by TNewsome_MiniProject2 licensed under CC BY 2.0

In fact, I had always had unfavorable opinions about online class. The feeling of not going to a physical classroom and having a direct contact with the instructor constantly was quite weird to me, before this class. There are definitely debate about if online course is good or bad, as this is a new way of teaching emerged in the last few years. In the article “Negative Effects of Online Courses” written by Neil Kokemuller, he mentioned several very significant downsides of online course. For example, less direct contact hindered the building of social and team relationships that normally happened in classroom. Less accountability may also occur, as many informal interactions between instructors and students, peer to peer under the classroom setting may be less likely to happen. The article also mentioned concerns about time commitment, and dropout rate.

However, during this class I took, I completely changed my mind. In fact, all kinds of concerns we had about online class could be resolved in different ways. With a clear checklist of what has to be done for each week, time commitment was never a problem. Moreover, a lot of assignments are based on share of information and opinions, where we would be able to comment on each other’s posts and form a conversation. It actually felt quite awkward at the beginning, when we need to record our voice in VoiceThread to give a short, brief presentation on different topics. Eventually, it gets much easier as like you raise your hand in the class and share your comments in response to the lecture. Also, various means of technologies ease the communication with the instructor.

Education, Wherever you are by Santiago Jaramillo licensed under CC BY 2.0

More importantly, more and more resources are becoming digitized, that people can keep getting education and learning different things online even when we are out of schools. One personal experience I want to share here. With double major in psychology and statistics, I often need to struggle with different statistical software, in which I may not be able to know how to use in order to do my assignments. Instead of trying to make an appointment with professor (which may take a longer time), I firstly search if there are any tutorial on YouTube that I may watch and get a sense of it. Then if nothing works out, I will seek out for other helps. In this online course, I discovered that there are many great videos out there in the Internet, that we can extract a lot of valuable information from.

Overall, there are many things that I learned from this class that I have never heard before, such as the discussion of the copyright issues and fair use. Also, how the Internet, specifically the algorithm of the search engine may filter what we will see on different sites. All these things and skills are very useful for future references, which we can apply in future jobs or graduate schools, as research is a big part of it.

I’m glad that I got the chance to have a different class experience!