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How Effective Are Online Classes

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With so much technology at hand, opportunities are emerging for students to learn entirely in an online environment instead of in a traditional classroom setting.
Online classes are readily available, and students at Lake Braddock are encouraged to take advantage of them. Oftentimes, students are tempted by the idea of not having to physically attend a class period and instead work at their own pace from home. However, online classes also pose several challenges for students, specifically to their ability to learn effectively. Even though online classrooms can be effective, they aren’t as effective as traditional classroom environments.
Senior Seth Rothstein took a health class online. He said that his online class was not nearly as effective as teacher-led, traditional classroom environments in terms of actually teaching the material.
“You don’t have the teacher experience,” Rothstein said. “You can’t go in and get help, so it’s less personable. There’s also no expansion of knowledge; there’s just what’s in the system, so it’s less interesting.”
However, Rothstein expressed his satisfaction with the light workload and how straightforward and easy the class was.
Although business and information technology teacher Eileen Fox said she thinks that doing well in an online learning environment is an important skill to have, she added that online classes can’t be as effective as traditional classroom environments because of their limitations in terms of face-to-face communication between the teacher and the student.
Since there is no teacher, let alone daily homework checks to motivate students to do their work, students looking to do well in an online class should be motivated and disciplined in their study habits to not fall behind, Fox said.
“[The teacher] cannot build a relationship with the students, and you lose the piece of having relevant group/collaborate efforts,” Fox said. “The instructor cannot check for student understanding and the student cannot ask questions or engage in a discussion as effectively. Some learning truly requires verbal explanation and discussion.”
There’s a very specific relationship that develops between a teacher and a student, which is an indispensable part of the learning process. Not only does that relationship allow the student to better understand the teacher and his/her teaching process during class time, it also builds a certain level of comfort between both parties, which allows for better interaction in terms of seeking and receiving help after class. In the future, this lack of communication and interaction between teacher and student could be eliminated through creative use of video technology, or something of the sort, making for a much nicer online class experience.
At the moment, however, that relationship is not present while taking an online class. There is very little interaction between the teacher and the students, let alone face-to-face interaction. In its current state, an online classroom cannot be as effective as a traditional, teacher-led classroom environment.
“Students may miss out on true learning if they take an online class versus one at school,” Fox said. “It depends on the student and the coursework.”

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