The University of Missouri-Kansas City keeps up with the digital age and busy students by offering a variety of online courses. According to its website, they are: instructor led online asynchronous, instructor led online synchronous, online-campus, blended or hybrid course, and video. Online courses are not for every student, they cater to certain learning styles and may not be the best choice for everyone.
UMKC Professor Jeannie Irons enjoys both online and in-person courses for different reasons.
“I enjoy the flexibility of online courses for students because I know so many are juggling other commitments,” Irons said. “I also appreciate that flexibility for myself. Online courses are also great because students get time to process and write their thoughts out on discussion posts. I think this kind of reflective exercise is good for critical thinking.”
Dr. Jean Dufresne, who teaches in the Communication Studies department, has some concerns about online courses.
“I am concerned with how much the students actually get out of the courses as compared to a standard in-person course,” Dufresne said. “My students do like the online course I teach but I don’t get to have discussions with them on course topics.”
Many of the professors interviewed agreed that they miss the interaction with the students that they get with traditional in-person courses. To try to cope with this loss of interaction, they offer a variety of reminders, discussion board posts, videos and more. Being able to use the technology required for the course is key to success for both students and professors alike. It is needed to keep the interaction going.
Despite the flexibility and lack of interaction, teaching or learning through online courses is not any easier than traditional courses. Journalism and mass communications professor Dr. Ye Wang argued against online class stereotypes.
“People may think teaching online is less demanding than teaching in classroom, but the fact is teaching online requires more time and preparation,” Wang said. “Some think teaching online is of less quality than classroom learning, but the truth is teaching online has the potential to provide better experience than classroom learning.”
According to some professors, students in their online courses performed generally the same as in their traditional in-person courses. The type of course does not seem to effect the grading outcomes. To keep grades from slipping, students are urged to practice good time-management to keep up with the workload when taking online courses.