Sean LeFever is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University, having just finished a degree in Materials Science and Engineering this spring. We asked Sean to give us his perspective on the upcoming online offerings.
Q: Currently, undergraduates are able to sign up for these new online sections for the first time. When making the choice between taking a traditional, in-person section or an online section, what do you think students will or should consider?
Sean: A lot of students will consider the convenience of online courses versus traditional courses. The ability to stay at home and get work done in their pajamas is an attractive feature of the online section. They should also consider their individual learning styles. For some students, learning through the internet without engaging in person is not the best way for them to learn.
Q: Nationally, online classes are being requested more. Why do you think they appeal to students?
Sean: The obvious appeal is that you can get work done from the comforts of your own home. There is no wasted time commuting to classes, and if students feel like they learn sufficiently online then there is really no reason to ever leave your house.
Q: With online teaching, instructors often worry about their ability to engage students and make the course feel like there’s still a human connection. What do you think students would worry about?
Sean: This is a big issue for me. Personally, I prefer to engage face to face when learning a new subject. When the only interaction of an online course is through discussion posts and comments, it is easy to misinterpret what is being communicated. Sometimes tone and context can be misconstrued in this way of communicating.
Q: Many of the online classes will use some combination of video, handouts, textbooks, and discussions for content delivery. Communication with the instructors will largely take place through email, discussions, and, in some cases, social media options. What do you think is most important for instructors to keep in touch with students and to encourage communication?
Sean: I think social media is a great new way for instructors to communicate effectively with their students. When used appropriately, social media can be a great tool for sharing and discussing topics and ideas online. Of course emails and course websites like Carmen are necessary for sharing documents and assignments, but I think in conjunction with social media like Twitter or Facebook, effective communication and teaching can be achieved.