Letter: Online classes misrepresented

In response to the Feb. 13 story, "Massive Open Online Courses provide new possibilities for education":


The above article misrepresented online classes. In particular: “A lot of people just take online classes to get credit but not to learn,” one student said. “If you want to learn, you take classes in person.” The article stated, "online classes have limited engagement with the instructor, and there is no guarantee that the work a student is completing is actually their work. Many online classes allow students to browse the Internet while completing assignments or taking exams without monitoring the student’s activity." Not everyone who teaches online should be teaching online and not every student who enrolls in an online class should be doing so. No, the system isn’t perfect. But the above statements are sweeping generalizations and untrue.

Professors electing to teach online, work hard to avoid the pitfalls of just using the same syllabus online that they use in person. They do actively engage and provide a collegial and community-based environment with the same level of commitment that they would do with an in-person class. Private Facebook walls, blogging, audio and video lectures help to build an online community. Online educators see their task as building a classroom environment, not a self-study website. Finally, online educators reassess and update their courses more often because technology changes and new tools become available. Students must come to an online class with a willingness to learn, positive attitudes and the flexibility to learn new technology tools and to use those tools. They need to bring a "yes, I can" attitude and be determined to learn the technology.

The biggest myth students bring into online classes is that online will be "easier" when in fact the opposite is true, particularly in the upper division. Online classes require students to have time management skills, proactive attitudes and they cannot treat the online class with less attentiveness or commitment that they treat their in-person classes.

Whether lower- or upper-division, online students learn how to use the ASU Library, how to identify if a website they find is a citable source and all work is closely monitored for plagiarism, perhaps even more closely than in-person classes. Online students leave with content knowledge, and they often leave with technical skills superior to their in-person counterparts. Information literacy, requiring the same research skills and having the same content requirements as in-person classes are a given in online education at ASU.


Judith Schultz



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