Why I Dislike Online Learning

“Dare to be perfect.” I’m not a big fan of online learning.

Why I Dislike Online Learning

My nephew keeps waffling on taking a college class.

He’s interested in mathematics. He’s also interested in computers. According to his parents, he has looked into pre-recorded high school geometry courses. He’s even asked if they exist.

I think I understand his dilemma. After having spent my college years surrounded by 13-year-olds who taught themselves how to repair electronics and buy hobby knives, it doesn’t seem natural to me to provide students with overpriced textbooks, unreadable coursework, and mediocre online learning resources. Not for anyone with deep-seated academic standards, anyway.

In part, I wrote the piece to get my questions answered. My nephew is hoping to know more about mathematics and science because his sister wants him to become a “computer scientist.” As a high school dropout, I’m trying to inspire my nephew to never give up the pursuit of education. So why am I interested in online learning?

1. It gets something done

Online learning is expensive. Why should it be? Well, according to a World Bank study, world university tuition is already more than $40,000 a year in fees alone. Those salaries aren’t going to fund all students’ educations with online learning.

Even if my nephew ultimately decides to take a class over the internet—and I hope he doesn’t—it makes more sense than buying college books online and flipping through textbooks looking for an obscure formula. Where can you go? In America, college education costs are sometimes cheaper than living on student loans for several years.

2. It prevents sedentary living

I grew up eating lunch at the dining room table, watching television, and playing video games during my college years. I was preoccupied with studying. But what if all my time (and other people’s) was devoted to online learning? Would I be less likely to not get out and play?

You know that feeling when you’re trapped and you can’t get out of bed for hours and you’re thinking about the future? I don’t want my kids spending their days in a similar way.

3. It gets parents involved

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I hope that my nephew can some day discover the true power of online learning. He’s a smart kid, and I can’t have him playing games forever or sneaking biscuits out of the kitchen. Some things should be a person’s responsibility, no matter what time and place they take place.

These thoughts fall on deaf ears in his and many other young students’ homes today. Parents today think online learning can’t possibly work because of a widely held opinion: most professors provide online classes online because they don’t have time to teach.

I understand that. Most professors these days are experts at the culture of higher education. They know all the schools in their area and the students who enroll. We’re essentially entering into a permanent transaction with professors, for better or worse. It’s difficult to imagine spending 12 hours a week, five days a week, doing nothing but reading and writing.

So, let’s consider the costs.

All instructors are experts in higher education. The classrooms are usually overcrowded and offer poor audio and video quality. The response times are often painfully slow. The coursework and homework may be boring. And most importantly, the professor does have time to teach a full course.

Will my nephew really learn more in a simulated class than in a professor’s actual class? I think so. Without the co-eds, the professors, the noise, and the distraction, he would actually study and learn more.

A few times a week, he could spend weeks practicing his worksheets and completing work. I hope he keeps at it. That way, my nephew will become a mathematician for decades to come.

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