Forget hovercrafts—in this day and age, we should be able to download lessons from school directly into our brains, and suddenly BAM... the knowledge is there. Sadly, the best we could is have them available online. As a wise and embittered veteran of the valiant battle that is online classes (full disclosure: I’ve taken two), I’m here to show you the ropes.
Perk: You go at your own pace! Woohoo!
You know what’s better than waking up one morning and grabbing your laptop to lazily chip away at a project in the comfort of your own home while eating brownie batter, all without having to put on pants? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Having a class online means not having to crawl into a classroom at ungodly hours. It means not having to let the professor lecture you into a comatose state. It means freedom, my friend. Freedom and glory the likes of which you can only achieve in a reclining armchair.
Peril: You go at your own pace. Ugh.
Sure, the brownie batter and pantslessness are great at first. But soon you’ll be thinking, “Why do this today when I can easily do it tomorrow?” And then, “Hell, I can even do it tonight and still be okay.” And then, “I didn’t realize there was so much to do,” and finally, “AHH! SHOULD I EAT MY LAPTOP? I’M PRETTY SURE STEP 2 IN HAVING A MENTAL BREAKDOWN IS THE EATING OF THE LAPTOP!” It’s just so easy to go online with the best of intentions and wind up floundering around on tumblr or Facebook instead. Every online student’s nightmare is trying to cram two weeks’ worth of work into that last crucial night before the class ends. Don’t be that flounderer.
Perk: No social interaction. Yay!
Some of us thrive in group settings, and some of us curl into the fetal position and gnaw on our laptops at the first mention of the term “oral presentation” or the phrase “everyone choose a partner.” Online classes take all of that out of the equation. It’s far easier to argue your point on an online discussion forum than it is to do it face-to-face. I wouldn’t recommend saying, like, “The basis for your argument is stupid and so are you,” but you get the drift.
Peril: No social interaction. Booooo.
For the social butterflies among us, online classes can be kind of a snorefest. If you’re the type of person that needs to actually make contact with another human being in the name of learning, it might be difficult staring at a screen all day and realizing you’re just another avatar posting in the forums.
Perk: It haz the Internets!
Online classes use a medium we’re all pretty familiar with. I swear the “orientation” I had to go through instructed me on how best to engage in the formidable crusade of right-clicking. So the good news is that online orientation is not the overwhelming bamboozlement that regular real-life school orientation is, with picture IDs and long lines and scary people ordering you around. As long as you can locate links on the side of the page (or maybe even take a leap of faith and right-click something), you should be fine.
Peril: IT HAZ THE INTERNETS.
On the other hand, the Internet can be a source of frustration and primal fury as you pound your fists against your chest and let loose with an almighty roar because of “wireless connectivity problems.” WiFi not connecting, e-mails not getting through to your professor, assignments not being uploaded in the correct format—these are the pitfalls of the online learning experience.
Have you ever taken an online class?