Approximately 15 percent of undergraduates at Ohio State’s Columbus campus last fall were enrolled in at least one online class, leading to some OSU students, faculty and staff to react in various ways to the increasing number of classes being offered online.
Online courses at OSU are created in much of the same way as in-person classes, OSU director of Office of the Chief Information Officer communication Katharine Keune, said in an email.
During Spring Semester 2013, there were 154 different courses that had students enrolled in at least one distance learning section, compared to 148 in Fall Semester 2012, Linda Katunich, senior associate director of enrollment, said in an email.
Though some students at OSU take advantage of the online courses offered, not all of them feel the same advantages and disadvantages of distance learning, said Rob Griffith, director of digital scholarship with ODEE.
“I’m sure you’ve attended some amazing classes and some that you thought could be better. The story is no different for online courses, they can be created really well or really poorly,” Griffith said.
Griffith thinks online courses are equally as effective as courses taken in a classroom.
“Online courses are effective at engaging students and provide meaningful, rigorous learning opportunities,” he said.
Benefits of online courses include adaptive activities that challenge learners at their level but continually adjust to maximize learning opportunities and also offer real-time feedback especially at the point of a mistake or error being made, Griffith said in an email from Keune.
Some students said, however, that feedback is not quite enough.
Lauren Sobol, a graduate student in public health, has taken online courses both as an undergraduate and a graduate at OSU but does not prefer them to in-person classes.
“I like to connect with the professors and classmates. It is a much more personal setting to learn in,” Sobol said.
Online courses also provide flexibility for students who work frequently or cannot physically come to campus.
Some students said they think they work better at certain hours of the day or for certain periods of time, and online courses allow for an individual to maximize on their peak performance window.
Jackson Pranica, a second-year in marketing and international business, is among students who think online courses allow an opportunity to perform more efficiently.
“I think I like the online ones better because it is easier to do it slowly instead of getting all the information at once and you can do it on your own time,” Pranica said.
Pranica also said he finds online courses to be accessible in instances where he’s had issues or questions.
“(Instructors) make sure you can ask any questions and make sure you are on top of what’s going on,” Pranica said.
For some students, the flexibility to do the class at your own pace caters to learning habits, but for others, it does not replace the essence of an in class learning experience.
“I prefer student/teacher interaction and a hands on experience,” said Allison Guggenheimer, a second-year in biology.
Griffith said the courses aren’t designed to make students learn on their own though.
“Unlike some perceptions, online courses aren’t destined to be isolated learning experiences,” Griffith said in the email from Keune. “Much like moving out of the information age into the connected age, students are able to experience a rich, socially interactive learning space.”