More interaction leads to better online class experience

By Merlyn Patil
Special to the Chronicle

Many feel comfortable with the idea of online classes. You do not have to travel to college campus; you avoid all the traffic to attend class.

You can study in the comfort and convenience of your own home. One of the major benefits of online class is for students who have to manage time
with work or family.

The disadvantage of online classes is that there is no face-to-face interaction with the instructor or with the other students.

The students have to study and understand the materials all by themselves.  It becomes easy for a student to complete their assignments using the internet help, but this will not help the student in gaining knowledge on the subject.

Online classes usually involve students reading the textbooks and completing some assignments on each topic.

This gets difficult if the student is struggling with the subject.

Many students will delay in completing the assignment, and will struggle at the deadline. Students do not feel connected to the classroom or instructor in an online class. Students often struggle if they do not have a good internet connection or
proper access to computers.

Sometimes there could be issues related to the network on some days, and the students will be eager to take advantage of the situation by asking for more time for deadline to complete their assignment.

Instructors will give their office number and email where the students can contact them in case of any questions in the course.

But how many students actually take advantage of this? Some students complain that the instructors are not quick in responding to their messages.

In my experience at DMACC, I have found instructors are quick in responding to emails. In one of my current online classes, the instructor is available once a week in online chat to talk with students.

The instructor even offered to form a study group at campus to help students with their assignments.

Students do not want to put in an extra effort and are not willing to take advantage of these opportunities.

Only a few students join in for chat, and this was a wonderful experience in getting connected with the instructor and other students while discussing on the subject.

I did have a wonderful experience with the instructor in some online classes I took. One instructor offered to meet at her office, which I took the advantage of and met her. We discussed topics that I was not clear on.

After that meeting, I felt a bond existed between me and my instructor, and my enjoyment of that subject increased. I never hesitated in asking for help in clarifying any topic during the course.

There are students who choose to take online classes for the wrong reasons. I know a peer who used to mention that the solutions to assignments are available online.

If the student enrolls for a class, whether it is online or the tradition class, the main intention should be to gain knowledge.

In my opinion, I would suggest that there should be videos on each topic where the instructor talks about each topic and highlights the main points.

This will help the students to grasp the main topics and feel connected to the class.

I feel that some conference meetings should be made mandatory for the students to attend where they can discuss their progress with the instructor.

Colleges should try to make online class interesting by involving students in chats and group discussion virtually.

Social contact with the peers will be missed on online class. Activities like group discussion during class helps the students to participate actively in class and build relationships with their peers.

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