Plugged In: Online Classes

For years now, it seems that the entire world has proclaimed online classes to be the savior of public education. “The future is coming!” we’ve been told. Well, if this is what the future entails, I couldn’t be happier that I am graduating this year.

Because of scheduling conflicts, I’ve taken a few of my classes online this year so that I could meet all of the graduation requirements. The experience has been less than impressive.

The classes are self-paced and consist of several units and video lessons with online worksheets that follow each lesson. At the onset, this doesn’t seem like a problem. In fact, it sounds wonderful. I can take whichever classes I want at whatever time is most convenient and do everything in the manner that is most efficient for me.

Think again.

The video lessons for the online courses are beyond cheesy and not even remotely helpful for understanding the content. Lessons are led by corny cartoon characters and Dora the Explorer does a better job of making topics understandable than these babbling heads. Following the odd and corny storylines, the video lessons fail to make the content understandable. They belabor the point by providing in-depth explanations of simple concepts and blazing right over the more complex topics.

What’s worse is that with this limited understanding, I have no way to ask a teacher for help. These cartoon characters certainly aren’t going to answer my questions. I end up spending more time searching around the internet for answers and explanations than I do watching the video lessons.

Of course, I wish the school system were more flexible, but I would never want to trade quality teaching and instruction for flexibility. Having a teacher in a classroom can never be underestimated. Teachers make learning easier not just by answering questions, but by getting to know their students and catering their lessons to the manners of instruction that best suit their students. This doesn’t happen with online classes.

For those that continue to hail online classes as the future of education, I suggest they spend some time taking online classes. They are not only frustrating, but serve little purpose, as we learn very little from these ridiculous, babbling cartoon characters.