Access To Online College Courses Can Speed Students’ Degree Completion

from Brookings

Online courses are an increasingly important part of students’ college experience, but how does this impact what students glean from their college experience? Trends toward online learning were evident even before the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, more than 30% of all students enrolled at postsecondary institutions took at least one online course in the fall 2016 term.

Advocates of online education suggest that departments offering online courses can support their students through the ease of access to coursework; for example, internet-based learning can help students avoid scheduling conflicts and offer students greater flexibility to pursue outside activities, like working a part-time job. In addition, online courses are a cost-effective mode of offering college-level instruction for most universities. However, prior research indicates that students perform slightly worse and have lower course retention within online learning compared to traditional face-to-face classes.

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13 Comments

  1. The article posted on this blog post speaks on all of the benefits of online courses for college. In a previous comment, I spoke about how I preferred online learning over in-person learning. It was easier to manage my time, and I found myself performing better academically. Despite my personal opinion, and the argument the article makes, I would like to shed light on the disadvantages of online classes. I noticed the article did not speak much on the negative effects and outcomes of being online. Montgomery college https://www.montgomerycollege.edu/academics/online-learning/distance/advantages-and-disadvantages-online-courses.html gives us a list of disadvantages.
    One of them is having to be a self-learner. This means that you might have to teach yourself most of the material. Personally, I never had a problem with reading the text and understanding it on my own. On the other hand, I can see how people can struggle with this. If you don’t understand something, it’s harder to reach out and get answers. For a more challenging subject like math, self-teaching may be an issue. Having a traditional class makes it easier because you can just raise your hand and ask a question. If you are virtual, video calls don’t always happen, and there’s less opportunity to speak to the professor.
    Another problem is effort. When you are online, it’s easy to be lazy and procrastinate. Since you are not actually in the classroom, you can be easily distracted by other things, and not focused on the task at hand. If there is a class meeting, it’s easy to just join the meeting, and sleep through the professors lecturing. Discipline can be an issue, and it’s easy to forget assignments and not put in the work.
    The last problem I’ll speak on, which is not listed on the website, is cheating. https://hechingerreport.org/another-problem-with-shifting-education-online-cheating/ This website explains more on the subject. When you are taking an exam at home, it is very easy to look at your phone and google the answers. If all of the students that are taking online courses do this, are they really learning the material? When you are in the classroom it’s more difficult to cheat, because of this, students learn the material more thoroughly. When you are online, students can blow off any studying, and just cheat comes the test.
    To conclude, there are a lot of negatives when it comes to learning online. In my opinion the positives outweigh the negatives. Like a said, I actually prefer online learning, but it’s good to address that it’s not for everyone, and well have to take the bad with the good. These problems should not be ignored, and we should try to resolve them if more students op for these types of courses.

  2. The article, “Acess to online college courses can speed student’s degree completion”, talks about how having online courses can be beneficial to college students. For students who want to complete their college degrees in a shorter period of time, they can switch from physical classes to virtual ones. Although online courses have been around for many years now, once the Covid pandemic began, virtual schooling became much more common in educational institutions. According to the article, over 30 percent of college students have taken an online course in the fall semester of 2016. I found these statistics to be surprising since there were many students who were already taking virtual courses even before the pandemic began. I was expecting there to be a much smaller portion of college students learning online. While there are many advantages to attending class virtually such as better time management, convenience, and affordability, working at home also has its own downsides. Studies of those who work full time from home suggest that at least 1 in 5 people feel socially isolated, and 3 in 10 of young adults frequently felt alone while working virtually. I think that attending class online for just one semester would be a great plan for students to get their classes finished quicker and also have a side job and more free time for themselves, however, having virtual courses for more than a year would not be beneficial to students as it would cause isolation and they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the college experience since they’re not physically on campus. In my opinion, a virtual education should only be a short-term option for students instead of earning their entire degree online.

  3. I believe that the article was very helpful when it came to beginning an advocate for doing online college courses because with our transition back to in-person. Students have gotten so online that they are willing to do that more than going to classes because I believe that yes, we had some stressors online, but we were able to have a life outside of school and go to more places because all we had to do was bring our computer with us. Which has made me even realize that I even like the fact that I had more free time to do what I want and still be focused on my schoolwork. The con I would have for online schooling is that I felt more stress and anxiety because I feel like I was not able to communicate with my peers or get to know like I wanted to do. According to gostrengths, “New research on well-being conducted by bestselling authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter, Ph.D., reveals that a robust sense of well-being requires six hours a day of social interaction.” If humans don’t get six hours of social, it can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety which I believe a lot of students went into while being virtual for almost two years. To me, online learning was an experience I would never forget but it also helped shape me a little bit because as we know it, we are going into more of a digital-based world that must do more with technology-based. Therefore, eventually, there was going to be a time where we would stop using paper and be more device efficient. However, the world is changing, and I believe that these colleges must change with it as well. I believe that some Professors don’t fully understand how stressful it is to try and transition back to regular life. I would say this past semester has made me cry the most. After all, I feel that I wasn’t able to keep up with the speed of my course because my mind is still trying to back on track from what I was starting to get used to which is the reason why believe that we should be able to take as many online courses just as much as in-person classes.

  4. The Covd-19 pandemic has forced the world to digitize at twice the pace it was going previously. Everything was shut down and online was the only means of communication for most people. Before the pandemic struck, I had never taken a fully online course. The pandemic then hit and I was forced to take all my classes online and it was terrible. At first it was difficult to adapt so quickly to the change of online classes, but after some time I started getting used to it. I started seeing why there were advocates for taking online classes. The flexibility of online classes were very useful. I could take the class wherever and whenever. Online classes were great for a while, until I got a little too carried away with the flexibility of it. I started getting side tracked and forgetful of my course work. I would work hours upon hours at my job at the time, and completely disregard my course work. It felt as if I was not even attending college.
    Personally, I felt as if I had wasted my money taking classes online. I pay thousands of dollars of tuition to obtain the knowledge from a higher education institute. I did not pay thousands of dollars to sit in front of my computer all day watching netflix, while scarcely listening to the professor. Luckily they were general education courses which were pretty straightforward, but if they were more intricate and vital courses for my line of profession, I would be severely underprepared for my profession. It was very difficult for me to retain the information through zoom calls, especially when the professor would have technical difficulties. Besides the retention of the course, taking online classes I felt as if I was missing out on the college experience. The connections one makes in college are, at times, worth more than the knowledge offered at the institute. Taking online classes is not worth the money in my opinion, however I understand why people would prefer courses online rather than on campus.

  5. Online education enrollment is going to keep increasing especially after the Covid-19 outbreak. I did not know that more than 30% of students enrolled at institutions took at least one online class in the fall 2016 term. That was years before the pandemic and was before many schools had an effective online learning atmosphere. I just transferred to Seton Hall this semester from the University of Maryland, and they were not prepared to start remote learning. One of their satellite campuses has been fully online since it opened, so if anyone wants to take a class online in the summer or winter usually they sign up with that campus. I remember in the spring of 2020 how the rumors of everyone being sent home for the semester started, and teachers were flustered because there was almost no remote capabilities besides the app we used to see due dates. However, once they set up zoom throughout the university, the classes were very similar in person, some being more difficult than others.
    One thing I noticed taking online classes is that when the class is asynchronous, students are less likely to interact with the teacher and other students. I took some of these classes and it was convenient for scheduling and my time management. It was all laid out from the start of the class, the two readings or assignments for the week and hand them in by Sunday. If I was a student working part or full time, this would be a great option because it allows me to do the work on my own time and still grasp the material if I choose to do so. I did notice that I would pay less attention to these classes because I could dedicate one day a week to finish all the work for the class, and then not have to look at it again until the following week. I realized this habit and made an effort to take online classes that had meeting times and the normal class structure.
    Online classes can definitely help students speed up degree completion because of the flexibility it allows for someone’s schedule. There are often no set meeting times and if you complete the work by the due date, your grade will reflect that. This could open up a window for adults that did not get to complete their degree to take online classes at their own discretion, without scheduled meeting times that would affect their work schedule.

  6. Access to online college courses was very essential during the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic when we were challenged with a deadly virus. At that time, I was still in high school and at the beginning, the concept of online education was very friendly. The district allowed classes to start a few hours than normal and set fewer restrictions on their curriculums. It was a very relaxing break for a few months with limited work and teachers easing off because of concern about the virus. The assignments were to a certain extent unchallenging unlike before and many final exams were canceled. We were presented with a lot more leniency than wasn’t existent prior. Eventually, though, this had an effect on the daily routines and habits of students. Some students would turn their cameras off during class and be focused on other activities such as video games and movies. Many students including myself entered into a lazy every day pattern of being quarantined that wouldn’t seem to end. The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on students’ academic and mental well-being. According to a new study conducted by edutopia.org, it suggests that the coronavirus will undo months of academic gains, leaving many students behind. This can be due to the fact that teachers couldn’t coordinate face-to-face interactions with their students which is necessary to learn new material. In addition, many students living in poverty will have trouble completing homework assignments because they don’t have a reliable internet connection. This would have had a huge effect, especially on younger children when they have to learn basic reading, writing, and math skills. Access to online college courses can provide more flexibility, but the retention of material grasped throughout the four years will be drastically lower. Furthermore, the college environment and face to face classes are more effective in having a successful class. Access to online education is very useful and accommodating for students that have schedule conflicts or have other commitments, but for full time students, I believe that in person schooling is the most efficient way.

  7. Online college courses surely are a great advantage for students all around the world, but as the article states, there is a need to perfect this way of learning so it can be as effective as traditional in-person courses. Yes, online courses give the possibility to more people to access a college education. However, it doesn’t make sense for universities to offer a course that can be accessed online if this course doesn’t meet the same quality standards as the one that has been taught in person for a lot of years. Certainly, this is not just a one-sided problem, it involves the institutional education and the prospective student or current student as well. On one side, the college should do a deep investigation to find a way so online courses provide the same educational quality as any other course while giving the chance to people to have a more accessible and effective way of learning. On the other side, future students must have the capacity to give an online course the same importance as any other course. People who enter online courses do so to be able to study and have more time to do other things such as having a job. This can cause people to give a higher priority to their work and leave studying aside. People are just looking to get the degree certificate regardless of what their real learning has been. For online graduate students to graduate as successfully and with the same learning skills and knowledge as full-time in-person students, potential students need to assure the university that their primary priority is going to be studying. If both parties meet these requirements, online college courses may become more in demand, since they offer a learning experience that is equal to that of traditional in-person education, but will be much easier to access and be more effective.

  8. I believe in the society we live in today, technology is used for everything all across the world. With the Global pandemic that is happening across the world with being forced to quarentine in our home, we were forced to adapt. The pandemic forced us to do everything virtual such as meetings and school. We adjusted to using technology and having virtual meeting rather than have to travel in person. It is a big change in the world, but has been a big help for everyone. I believe colleges should allow online courses because its a new part of the world and future. People are going to take advantage of having technology in their favor so having online classes will be a good idea for some who have a busy schedule and rather be at their home taking classes. I do believe it should be optional and classes to still be held in person because of some like being in person better and the experience of being in school. Its also a lot of money, so some will rather be in person for the amount of money they are paying.

  9. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the world and set mankind forward at least 10 years. One side effect of this pandemic is that colleges and universities have begun to shift toward hybrid, and all remote learning. The shift toward to remote education was bound to happen in the future, but its prevalence though out the globe has accelerated drastically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Remote learning has become accepted as a new normal for many college students, weather they like it or not. However, remote learning has existed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was not as commonplace as it is today, but it was starting to become an alternative form of education for many students in higher education.
    Online courses have countless benefits, and I believe that these benefits will encourage Colleges and Universities around the world to have more online classes. Online courses all students to have more flexibility in their schedule. If a student commutes to a college campus, they may have a long commute which takes time out of their day. This lost time spent driving to school or taking another form of transportation can be regained if a student has online classes. By taking just one or two of a semesters’ classes online, students gain more time to complete their work and other extracurricular activities. These students may be able to avoid a long commute to campus for 2 of the 5 days which they have their classes scheduled. Gaining time back during the weak allows students to boost their grades, actually spend time learning their classes material, in addition to getting involved in work experience.
    Students involved in higher education always have the problem of having an incredible amount of work to complete in a short amount of time. By regaining time in one’s schedule, they can actually spend time understanding the nuances of their classes material instead of just grasping a general idea of what topics are being covered. Online learning definitely helped me regain more time in my schedule and had helped me become a better student during the Covid-19 pandemic. I was forced to become more independent and self-reliant during my online classes. This was instrumental in helping me grow up and transition from being a high schooler to a college student.
    As I previously mentioned, online classes allow students to have an opportunity to work a job or become part of an organization as they have more flexibility in their schedule. These experiences are great ways for students to begin to grow their resume, network, and learn professional skills which can be applied to their future career. Having a part time job also allows student to make some money, which can help them avoid going deeper into student loan debt.
    There are some down sides to 100% remote learning. These include feeling disconnected from school, losing a sense of a classroom community, and having fewer social interactions with classmates. These side effects make it harder for students to make more new friends in college. However, if higher education is only partially online, then it is extremely advantageous for students to pursue a few online classes during their time at a college or university.

  10. Due to the pandemic and its effects on society, means of education have become virtual. This forced students around the world to attend their classes online within the comfort of their home. For many, this process was great within the first few months of the pandemic. However, students realized just how detached they were from the classroom and their friends at school. With all hope lost for returning into a normal face-to-face classroom, many students performed very poorly due to virtual education. This can be credited to distractions at home, as well as a general disconnection to the class and its contents. Today, as society is recovering to the downfalls of the pandemic, many students are returning to in-person classes. Still, some choose to continue their academic career on the face of a laptop or computer.
    To me this is both disgraceful and upsetting. Despite the benefits of virtual education that the article provides, I feel as if school is met to be attended in person and only in person, especially when the topic of college education is discussed. To me, I feel very disconnected and apathetic with my experiences of virtual schooling. I also felt as if I looked for shortcuts in my education more than I would in person. This can be considered for almost all the students that have taken part in online education. With this being said, I believe that college education should only be allowed to take place in a real-world environment. This is because students are proven to both retain information and generally perform better in normal classroom setting, while having the ability (most of the time obligation) to practice their social skills. This leads me to believe that college students who only take courses online, will eventually lack the social skills required in the work force. This would eventually lead to an influx of college students leaving school and entering their field of work with little to no communications skills. This is a compounding effect on society. I just finished a Course blog explaining the need for networking and communication in life. With online schooling, a student is completely disconnected from other students going to school for the same purpose. This leads the student to receive no help or support from their fellow classmates, both within the time the course is taken, as well as the future applications one may use when referring back to classmates for help.
    In conclusion, technology can benefit many different aspects of our everyday lives but should not be used for means of education. This is because of the priceless lessons we learn outside of the curriculum that cannot be learned through virtual learning. Simply put, when virtual schooling is normalized, people become very disconnected to the rest of society.

  11. Although I understand the idea of speeding up the degrees, I see more problems than positive things coming with that. First of all, there is no need to speed up something that important and impactful on the formation of students and people. This idea of needing to do everything as quickly as possible and rushing day in and day out is affecting people’s mental health, especially with social media when teenagers see other people’s lives and think they are behind and have existential crisis, leading to potential suicide. The focus should always be on quality and learning instead of speeding up.
    Online learning takes away the quality of learning and diminishes potential professor influences on people. I experienced one year and a half of full remote learning and I was not able to learn as much as if I was in person. The remote experience allows people to be very distracted and cheat easily in tests and homework, which leads to a lack of motivation to actually learn. Students are more and more thinking about short-term benefits of getting the good grades and less about the long-term of learning the topics and contents.
    The last paragraph brings the idea of grades, which is another problem in the online system. Because of the pressure for getting good grades, the students are willing to not learn and get that grade instead of the opposite, and that happens because parents and professors firstly talk about the grades, not about what was learned.
    To conclude, I believe is important to present a counter-argument, which is in agreement with the effectivity of remote learning. Students who enroll in remote learning can be in different courses and universities at the same time, as they don’t need to worry about the logistics time loss, being more time effective. In the ideal world, people would learn and focus on learning, while being time effective, but the mental health issues in society are not favoring that.

  12. As a college student I am all for online courses because of how convenient it is. Since my first year of college was completely online and I did not have the option of going in person. I can definitely say it is easier than having in person classes which is why most students will have chosen online courses. The fact that I was able to be in the comfort of my own home or any area an take them made it extremely easy to attend. I was also able to still work a full-time and create a schedule that suited my needs. As stated in the article, “In addition, online courses are a cost-effective mode of offering college-level instruction for most universities.” This really stood out to me because college is already quit expensive and if there is anyway to receive the education in a less costly way it’ll definitely be an option for most if not all college students.

  13. Ever since the pandemic has hit the United States it has changed for good. A huge change that it has made on us is that the United States has changed to a semi-virtual setting including online college courses. These online college courses can help students get their degrees faster and quicker. You might be wondering how online classes can help students get their degrees faster. This movement is starting to become important because more than three out of ten students that are enrolled into college took at least one online course including me. Last semester I took Journey of Transformation online. Online courses help students get their degrees faster because advocates believe that it is easier for students, it helps set up college students for the future, and studies have shown that it has helped students get their degrees faster.

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