Many people know what it’s like being taught in a traditional classroom. The clacking and scribbling of pencils, socializing, whispered asides to classmates, and informative lectures from instructors make up an environment that can be lively or serious but often both. However, this experience isn’t always preferable for all students.
Some students will opt to take online classes when physically attending college isn’t an option. This provides a chance to earn college credits without stepping onto campus. Some students have work or have family life commitments, while others are simply not comfortable in classroom settings.
Instructors also can teach online classes when a demanding schedule or their own personal responsibilities get in the way of being available on a rigid schedule.
On-campus and online classes share a presence at Pierce College, with some classes serving as hybrid of the two styles. ECampus tutorials assist students with the requirements of online classes, allowing them to successfully learn off campus. Indeed, students and instructors alike have their own reasons for favoring one class type over the other.
“When steps are made to minimize any flaws that affect them, online and on-campus classes are excellent outlets for growth of students,” Pierce College instructor Lisa Reyes said.
Reyes, who has experience in teaching on-campus and online classes, says that holding on-campus classes allows for unique opportunities to connect with students. She enjoys having the ability to meet directly with students as soon as they need help, and she can explain an idea or topic in more detail in person. Online settings don’t allow her to sense when a student is having trouble unless that person speaks up. This makes it more challenging to reach every person in class.
People in on-campus classes benefit from the immediacy of interaction, and not just for instructors. Some students feel a similar way.
Bri Pero, a student at the Puyallup campus, enjoys the chance she gets to better absorb what she’s taught on campus. Learning a concept through a lecture or class activity helps her comprehend its importance.
“I just really like that it’s on a more personal level,” Pero said. “You get to establish a different kind of relationship with the professor and learn more because of it.”
Although some describe their preference for one of the two class types in a manner of what’s most practical for their teaching or learning needs, personal taste can factor in as well. This is true for history professor John Lucas.
“I guess my personality is basically the reason I mostly teach on campus,” Lucas said.
Lucas attributes his comfort zone to standing in front of students and teaching with any object, program or writing that can assist him in his lessons. While doing so, he can see if students understand the material or ask if anyone has questions.
On-campus classes are praised for the opportunities presented in getting to personally interact with covered material and hold discussions, but online classes are held in high regard by some instructors for different reasons.
For instance, Reyes said that the leveling of students’ personalities online allows her to remain on equal footing participation-wise.
“I definitely find an advantage in the kind of blind experience you get from teaching online,” Reyes said. “In the past, I’ve taught many on-campus classes with charming and charismatic students who love taking part in the learning process. On the other hand, some students were often so quiet that you would never be able to tell just how well they did on assignments.”
Lucas, who teaches four online classes per year, said the focus on writing is important online, and he considers it beneficial to discussions. By allowing students to write on a subject during online class time, their thoughts are collected in a clearer fashion than when spoken, and those self-conscious about speaking in on-campus classes are motivated to share their thoughts.
“A student’s chance to show more expressiveness in written form is best when he or she is taught online—from what I’ve seen,” Lucas said.
Among the benefits of online classes for students is the more flexible classroom schedule, which is often vital for some with time-consuming commitments outside of school.
Puyallup campus student Emily Manley said she appreciates working at her own pace and the loosening of time limits found on campus is helpful when other commitments get in the way.
“There’s a broader due date for assignments, which I like if the objective is unclear or takes a long time to finish,” she said.
The advantages of on-campus or online classes are somewhat subjective, and whether one or the other is suitable for an instructor or student depends on their own personal tasks and educational values.
“In the most basic sense, neither on-campus nor online classes are flawed. Both are simply different in practice, and different classes suit different needs,” Reyes said.
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