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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Online classes: Where busy students go to die

Time is a unique resource. It is tricky in that there is no way to ever obtain more of it than we are given, and no way to rid ourselves of it.

While society has applied time-keeping measures to this resource, the conventional method being the twenty-four hour day, we can’t argue with the fact that we hold no control over the influx or outflow of the resource as a whole. Even extremely rare resources, like precious stones and metals, are not bound by the same restrictions. For this reason, it makes sense that society does whatever it can to maximally utilize these twenty-four hours.

We expedite everything, and speed and timeliness are never ends but rather means to be improved upon. In our attempts to get more bang for our minute, we have streamlined many endeavors that traditionally take a larger time investment. One such endeavor would be education, as seen in the birth of online degrees and classes.

An online class has potential to be just as successful as a traditional one. It can be completed from anywhere, seeing as physical presence in the class proves unnecessary. Online classes can be beneficial to people with mobility problems, people who travel and other people with geographical constraints. Who they are not beneficial for are those who do not have time to take the class, and I would feel comfortable making the claim that these time-crunched individuals make up a large portion of online-students.

To the busy person, an online class seems idyllic. After all, that hour or so that would be spent in the classroom a couple times a week is not mandatory, and one is free to complete the class at their own leisure. Logistically, the lack of both class and travel time seem to leave us with extra room in our schedule to complete the course work!

What we busy folk are forgetting; however, is that any education takes a considerable investment of both time and mental capacities. Chances are if you don’t have time to travel to and attend class, you don’t have the time it takes to sit down and appropriately engage and understand the material. Just in case you aren’t convinced, another downside for the busy person in an online class is the lack of physical meetings with the instructor. This makes it much easier to misunderstand assignments or forget about them entirely, and your grade in the class may suffer for it.

In the end, a busy person taking an online class is probably wasting both their money and their precious time (gasp). Online classes should be available as a resource for students with geographical constraints, mobility problems or a dedication to the subject matter. We can speed up our coffee makers, our Internet and our travel methods without truly affecting the outcome of said pursuits. However, attempting to save time in educational endeavors truly compromises the knowledge we have the potential to gain.
ccolleran@lanthorn.com



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