Recently, UC Online Education has committed to increasing the number of online courses offered across the UC system.
While increasing the number of online courses has some undeniable benefits, there are also some important points we must remember about traditional education before switching to an online medium.
Increasing the number of online classes will be beneficial in a number of ways. First, we can increase class registration without overcrowding the already packed lecture halls.
Second, an increased online presence will allow students from far away to participate in classes that they normally would never be able to take.
And thirdly, but not lastly by any means, having classes offered online will allow students who need to miss class for family or health reasons to not rely on friends for notes, and not miss important information discussed during lecture.
While these benefits are hefty indeed, we must be cautious of moving too far into the realm of online education. Having a majority of enrolled students taking a class off campus will increase the number of required TAs to manage the increase in papers and tests that need to be graded. Furthermore, having students take exams outside of a classroom will drastically increase the likelihood of academic misconduct … as much as we don’t want to admit that.
In these modern times when information on the cloud is readily available, we must not forget the importance of attending lecture in a personal setting, hearing the professor speak, engaging in class discussions, etc. Online material should be a supplement, not a replacement, for traditional lectures.
Ultimately, the online courses should remain focused on existing students, making courses more accessible, making course material more accessible and providing a means to learn the course material should a situation arise where a student is prevented from attending.