By Raymond Nava
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, college classes have moved from in person to mostly online. However, doing online classes is easier than attending classes in person.
One of the minor benefits of taking online classes is that it can help save a little bit of the experiences of attending in person classes. These expenses mostly range from money saved from not having to spend on gas or Uber fares going to and from the campus of the student doesn’t drive. While some may see this as minor, given that money may be tight due to the current pandemic causing layoffs for some students, these savings can mean a whole lot for them.
Online classes allow for the pace of the lecture to move more quickly than in person classes. One of the reasons as to why is because from time to time, some class lectures can be held up due to frequent interruptions from some students. However, with classes online, students are usually muted and since they aren’t in person, they can’t chat with each other in a way that brings the class to a halt. This results in more lessons being able to get done than in previous in person lectures.
Because lectures are being taught through zoom, this allows the opportunity to go back and rewatch the lecture. For example, a math professor can record her lecture so her students could go back and watch if they missed anything when they took notes or if they just needed to see the step by step process for a math lesson. Though not all professors may not do this, a student can also just record the lecture themselves using any of the free desktop recording software that can be found online.
Having most classes now be online adds a good amount of convenience. The most notable is that students don’t have to walk to and from their classes. This is extremely beneficial if a student has classes and the complete opposite side of the campus. Similarly, having classes at home makes night classes much more manageable. Having to drive back to campus at night for a class can be a pain. While still having a class at night is still an annoyance, especially if it’s only offered at night like Journalism 202, taking it online relieves some of the hassle.
However, there are some downsides to having to take classes online. The biggest one is the loss of the social interaction in person classes can give. One of the biggest parts of college, in addition to the education, is the social aspect. With online classes, there aren’t really opportunities to interact with fellow classmates. While there are some instances, they aren’t nearly the same as actually being face to face and talking to them.
Another downside is that being at home presents opportunities to get distracted. Whether it be from being tempted to watch TV or do other things on the computer while the class is going on. Similar distractions also existed with in person classes with phones, but the potential distractions at home are on a higher level.
The last, and probably the biggest, downside revolves around the technical side. Taking online classes means that a student has to be online. In the extraordinary event that a student’s internet connection goes offline or suffered a power outage, the consequences could be rough. If the professor for an online class does not record their lecture, the student misses out on it almost entirely. Even if a lecture is recorded, the student would also be unable to ask a question they may have. While a student may have the Zoom application on their phone, there’s still the risk their mobile data may go down or their phone is not charged, and in the event of a power outage, they’re almost out of options if this happens.
The odds of these set of events happening are low. But the severity of the consequences should these events happen are great. Some can see this as a low risk but high severity calculation.
With all that said though, the benefits of online classes are plentiful. Making the adjustment mid semester was challenging and getting used to it did take some time. Online classes may not be everyone’s first choice of how they take classes, but they are very good for what everyone has to work with until the COVID-19 pandemic ends.