Education ought to be clear, inviting and enjoyable, without booby-traps, humiliations, condescension or boredom. It ought to teach and reward initiative, curiosity, the habit of self-motivation, intellectual involvement. Students should develop, through practice, abilities to think, argue and disagree intelligently.
I have taken some online classes in different subjects before, and now obviously I am taking this one. My experience with online learning has been mixed: I love the flexibility it provides but I feel most classes are not comparable to face-to-face ones when it comes to expectations and assignments. I don’t know why, but in most classes I’ve taken the students are left kind of “floating around” not really knowing what we are supposed to do. Maybe that’s because it’s harder to understand written instructions versus verbal ones – and also the fact that real-time interactions are not (generally) part of online classes. In this sense, I feel that online classes have “booby-traps” because there’s a lot of room for misunderstandings among the students and instructors.
The good part about online classes is that it teaches you more than the subject itself but also discipline, or “self-motivation” as Nelson calls it. If you don’t sit down and do your homework and readings, nobody is going to know – at least not until you’re late with assignments and failing the class. It’s easy to get distracted when doing homework because you can just open another tab and take a BuzzFeed quiz instead, and your professor is none the wiser. In this case I believe online classes are great for preparing students for their future jobs, where their bosses won’t be monitoring them constantly (hopefully).
I also believe that online classes are great for making students reflect on their language and how they express themselves. It’s a lot easier to sound rude in writing, so when we have discussions on Blackboard or through our blogs, we all need to make sure our point is clear and we are sounding respectful. In a world where text and email are the main forms of communication in offices, communicating effectively in writing is essential. Only by practicing we can learn to “argue and disagree intelligently.”