Something That’s Not Better on the Internet

So I’m about 1 month into my courses at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media and I’m enjoying what I’m learning mostly.   Although the courses are offered both in-class and online, I’m taking the online versions to avoid having to drive down to Chicago every week.  I’m starting to think this dual-natured instruction method really sucks.

Most of the frustration comes from watching lectures and watching discussions that they have about things in class.  They’re able to interact in ways that are just completely unavailable to those who are taking it online.  They can ask questions, interact with the instructor, and actually hear what their classmates are saying generally.

Meanwhile those of us online have a crappy little message board that we’re required to post one thing on once a week.  And somehow that is equivalent to the interaction these guys get in class?  In my design class, they even do critiques of everyone’s projects the day they are due.  For the online students, they don’t get any of that.

I guess on one hand it’s probably just jealousy that I’m not getting to have as rich of an experience, but on the other hand I think it is making it more obvious to me the disingenuousness of the college of equating the two methods to take their courses.  I have absolutely no doubt that those who attend class have a qualitatively different experience than those who take them online, yet those who complete the entire curriculum over the web receive the same degree as those who took it in-class when they probably did end up learning and experiencing very different things.

This isn’t to say that we don’t take the same exams or have the same projects but there is a lot to a course besides those and it doesn’t seem like they do anything to really alleviate that difference.  Not that I’d like my degree to be branded as an ‘Online’ degree but at the end of the day I have felt that what I have received is an experience that is inferior to the in-class one.

I do think that online learning by itself is a great tool, and I think you could definitely have an experience that is almost as rich as an in-class one.  There are just a lot of parts of the class that would need to be reworked to really benefit from it and when you’re also teaching a physical class, it is much more difficult to have that process.

I am still planning on finishing my degree and I appreciate not having to drive somewhere for class every week (my classes last semester were so frustrating because of that) but if you plan on taking classes that may have discussion in them (and that’s a fair number), you might really enjoy taking it in-class even though it is extra effort.

4 thoughts on “Something That’s Not Better on the Internet”

  1. I had the option of taking my editing classes online, but quickly discarded that option. I figured that something wouldn’t work quite right or some such and how can you ask questions about the finer points in grammar and expect to keep moving if it takes a week to get a response? Of course, I was looking at taking a short trip on public transportation to get to my classes, so it’s a different situation than dEn’s.

    I also do more of the work if I feel like I have to report to someone about it.

    One final note: disinginuity is spelled disingenuousness.

  2. One final note: disinginuity is spelled disingenuousness.

    I had it spelled that way at first and it just seemed too long to possibly be right … so I changed it to something that had a root that makes no sense in that context. Hmm, bad thinking on my part.

  3. I’m considering taking a course from Depaul Online. Apparently the Prof. has some health problems and can only teach it online. What is your opinion of Depaul online? Have you every had an online only class there? Also For some reason the course is actually more expensive online than the in person version.

  4. Well, the classes I’m taking are all CDM and from what I understand there isn’t any difference in price that way. As far as taking a class, if it were only offered online, I don’t really see any problem with it. The course and all coursework would be specifically designed for an online setting so I think it would go better.

    As I said in the post, the frustrating thing is the way the online section can seem like an afterthought. Your course doesn’t sound like it would be like that. I have learned a lot even if I’m not particularly enjoying the way I’m taking them. I’m not going to say it’s the best way to take the classes but if it’s your only option I’d say go for it (unless it’s going to kill you trying to spend the money).

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