Salah: Online summer classes a real-life problem

Hend Salah

Hend SalahLike many other well-respected schools, Temple University offers a new way to “take the easy way out” during the summer semesters: online classes. However, this seemingly innocuous way to raise your GPA over the warmer months can come with some serious educational drawbacks.

The idea of taking online courses seems simple enough. You don’t even have to get out of bed to get a good grade. Class participation? Move your mouse around a few times. Extra reading? Find summaries online. Exam? Notes, books, and the Internet are all available to cater to your needs. Sounds pretty sweet.

Of course, it’s never that simple. Yes, all of the above things are true, and you get to fully enjoy them for about a day. Then the wrath of the online instructor falls down upon you like Thor’s hammer on a thumbtack.

Dramatic analogies aside, online classes are a real pain for a number of reasons. First, there is no direct contact between a student and the instructor. There are no office hours, and email can only take you so far. Extra help goes out of the window, and a student is left to fend for himself on material that could require a little more clarity.

While exams could seem easy because of the plethora of options students have to cheat, they are in no way easier than a regular exam. Teachers aren’t stupid. They know that you’re going to get the Internet to do your exam for you, so they won’t give you a test that Google is smart enough to help you with. Instead of answering questions, you’ll be analyzing text and writing essays. How about those apples?

Another problem lies in the lack of student-teacher contact, which can be extremely unhealthy. First, students in online classes are just numbers to a professor who hasn’t even seen them. Having some small relationship with a teacher is important when it’s time for grades to go in. Most teachers will be lenient with the grades of students they know have been working hard. That connection cannot be made through the Internet.

Furthermore, the workload for online classes is also often inhumanely heavy. Because there is no in class discussion or activity, all of the work piles together and is served to you with the fastest expiration date you will ever encounter. Since summer sessions are so much shorter than the regular semester, work that would be done over the course of thirteen weeks is condensed into a six-week period. A project you would have had weeks to do is now due within a few days.

I’m currently taking online classes, and I’ve had piles of work thrown on me already. In one class, I was quizzed on four books and two documentaries that I had only been given a few days to finish. I just took an exam a few days ago, and it was pure torture. I was excited when I first opened the test document, because the first few questions looked easy. I was positive I would get an A. When I finally made it to the last question, the excitement was long gone. Instead, my jaw was hanging open and I was panicking. The question focused on one line in a book of three hundred pages. I can safely say that there is no way I answered correctly. I really have no idea how I passed.

Taking summer courses at Temple is hard enough as it is because of how condensed and intense the workload is. Online courses are even tougher, because a vital part of the learning process is missing. Courses online are all about teaching yourself, because no one else is there to help you. They are definitely something to avoid if you’re planning on enjoying your summer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have two books and a movie to finish.

Hend Salah can be reached at hsalah@temple.edu.

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