Students walk across The Oval at Ohio State, which recently had its online undergraduate program ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State is taking pride in a recent ranking from U.S. News and World Report that puts the university as the top Online Bachelor’s Program in the nation. This is an impressive win out of 357 schools and the material makes for a good looking banner on Ohio State’s eLearning homepage.  

Our online classes do not come from the shabby back door of a for-profit institution. This is an Ohio State University degree. Students are held to the same standard, the same degree of excellence and, most importantly, the same price per credit hour.  

A 1.5 credit hour online course that is an alternative for a traditional class costs Ohio students $585. This is justifiably the same price as a class that uses air conditioning and an hour and a half of a professional’s time every week.

Online classes, as a whole, have curious pricing. A credit hour for an online class for an e-learning degree comes out as an overall discount, but a credit hour for an online class for a traditional degree is not discounted or credited.

Ohio State should not overhype online classes.

For example, one Ohio State professor claims that social interaction is even better online than in person.

“I really feel that I get to know the students even better online.” Barbara Jones Warren, professor and director in the Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, said in a promotional video. “The connection tends to be even deeper online.”

Relationships just work better online. No one would ever know they’ve been catfished if all relationships stayed online. Also, a relationship is easier to end over AIM.

Students do not need real life interactions with their peers to succeed in the real world. Face-to-face in class discussions are fine, but a Carmen discussion post with blank avatars is even better.

Carmen discussion posts also are great practice for real-world situations, like fighting with your uncle about gun control in Facebook comments.

Online supplements have a place in a modern college degree, though. The “flipped classroom” is an effective learning approach when used correctly. In flipped classrooms, students watch online video lectures and follow up with activities, normally considered homework, for class times.

This leads to flipped classes being either fantastic or terrible; a Broadway play or a three-hour, experimental musical by high school students.

College students who are feeling isolated can gain deep, social connections through online classes and also never go to a physical place.

Unlike some perceptions, online courses aren’t destined to be isolated learning experiences,” Rob Griffith, now the associate vice president of distance education with the Office of Distance Educations and eLearning, said in a 2013 Lantern article. “Much like moving out of the information age into the connected age, students are able to experience a rich, socially interactive learning space”

Griffith is right — we are in a transitional period. Rate My Professor comments will soon change from “strict about attendance” to “great webcam.” This is the future of college education.

Online classes are not an overall bad idea, though. An online degree is a great alternative for people who are not in a position to attend college, because of time or finances. An online general education class can make a degree, in four years, possible for a student who wavered on a major. They are a great tool, but should not be seen as a crutch.