How Is Online Learning Bad For Students?

Michael Spears explains how online learning is not the best way to train students.

How Is Online Learning Bad For Students?

Poorly structured online courses have taken people by surprise and angered both parents and educators. Recently a study was presented at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Boston by Krishna Shenoy, a PhD Candidate at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He details how online classes in business, marketing, and finance may be more harmful to students than good. However, one of the most significant drawbacks to the usefulness of online education is its learning “failure rate.” Only about half of all students complete their first online course. While such dismal statistics cause an upswing in traditional enrollment, schools should be wary of the increasing enrollment rates and maintain realistic expectations.

Online Course Fail Rates

A prime reason for the low rates of online study is the lack of resources and time. Online courses generally require up to 36-36-36 hours of course time. They also lack adequate courses and books. By far, online courses use relatively low students and books ratios compared to traditional classroom courses.

Some studies also show that the number of people who are successful in online courses has declined over the past decade. Online programs have not proved as helpful to those who are already very successful in their academic careers. It’s just as likely that those who are less capable are encouraged to enroll in an online course.

Not only do educational needs need to be met in a fairly economical manner, but also good quality content needs to be disseminated. By means of better and more resources, and a better design, schools could overcome the shortcomings of online courses.

It’s not that online courses aren’t available, but many of them require additional costs and time, thus making them unattractive for many students. The solution is often to create intensive online study centers. High quality educational providers are also realizing the value of developing relationships with students. This could mean working with elementary and secondary schools to offer educational services.

Teachers & Online Learning

Many teachers have criticized the performance of online learners. Some have actually indicated that they do not feel comfortable when their students turn up at their schools, and start committing errors of the digital kind. In my humble opinion, it’s best to avoid assigning anything onto websites that your students might not be able to do very well on. Many online courses are very short, and require completion only by using flashcards. I personally would prefer more complex instructional projects where students are shown hands-on activities. However, who am I to judge? By design, online courses are more conducive to ideas people are probably not prepared to fully put into practice.

Online education has the potential to break down some barriers between educators and students. It could help students from small towns who have trouble getting to their local school. It could help students who don’t enjoy school to find alternatives, and be more involved with their learning. Online education could also spark creativity and bring students together from different economic classes and ethnicities. With interactive learning projects and secure internet connections, students could be compelled to invest time into learning.

My final thought is that it might actually be beneficial for universities to add online courses. If online courses have been introduced, they need to be easy for students to access and fail to influence the learning process in such a way that they create trouble. Most students need some sense of urgency in their lives, and may seek to complete online courses without feeling rushed. Thus it may encourage some students to study and complete their courses faster, while relieving pressure of daily life.

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