By Cam Lawrence
At St. Mary’s, students take online courses to explore subjects that are not available to them at school. However, whether they retain and understand the material as well as students do in face-to-face classes is another question.
The advantages of taking an online course are numerous. Students are able to get extra credit, and if the course is an AP class, they can even get college credit. With that, the student’s GPA will be raised if they do well. A major negative factor still remains: students feel that they are not given the same amount of attention, and therefore do not receive as good of an education as face-to-face classes give.
A study done by Columbia University’s Teachers College showed that students felt like they did not learn material as well in an online course as they do in a face-to-face class with student-teacher interaction. The classes allow students to be able to reach out to the teacher to ask for questions. Because of being physically present in a structured class, students retain the information and gain a more well-rounded understanding of the topic.
Online classes appear to be strenuous and stressful, but the reality is that because of the flexibility of the course, students are able to work on their own time. Taylor Gallik (12) stated about her online AP Psychology class that “Psychology was easy for me because I was able to complete the work on my own time, and my teacher was always available to talk to me through FaceTime about concepts I couldn’t understand.” Students like Taylor find these classes easier, but online classes do not move as quickly as other classes because of the flexibility and lack of structure they give.
Online classes teach students different topics that are not available to them. The information is easy to access, and the classes’ teachers try to work with the student the best way they can. Online classes do not, however, move as quickly as a face-to-face class that meets every day. Dr. Ray teaches the online course, AP Human Geography, at St. Mary’s. She said, “I can’t say that face-to-face classes are necessarily more productive, but I can say that in a face-to-face class, relationships between the teacher and the students develop faster. Finding ways to get to know students in an online class is one of the major challenges of online teaching. Being able to establish strong relationships, is an important goal of all teachers in any type of class.” This kind of social interaction, which most high school students crave throughout the school day, is something that online classes lack. Face-to-face classes have more structure, work, expectations and student engagement.
St. Mary’s gives students the advantage of learning unique topics by offering online courses. They expand students’ curriculum, as well as push them to work in a different way. If a student were given the choice to take the same class in the face-to-face style, they should choose it because taking the face-to-face class would allow them to attend a more structured class, have more time with the teacher and be around peers. Angela Roberts (9), who is currently taking AP Human Geography, said, “I like face-to-face more because the teacher is what makes the class interesting for me. With online classes, you don’t get to interact with the teacher or peers as much. I learn better in a face-to-face class because of this.”
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