Last week we talked about a new online class being offered this summer, which focuses on basic library research. But maybe you never took an online class before and aren’t sure how that’s supposed to work. Well, let me tell you! I am an intern this semester for the Yuba College Library. I attend San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science. And I’ve taken all of my classes online.
Here are the pros of taking an online course (especially during the lazy summer when you’d rather be at the beach):
- You can “go to class” at the beach. So long as you have wireless internet or find a nifty location that has free Wi-Fi you can be anywhere and still take your course. Anywhere, anywhere but Yuba. The mountains, the desert, a different state altogether. You can enjoy your summer days and go to school at the same time. Does Yuba even have a beach? I don’t know. I’m sitting in Los Angeles writing this post. (Just kidding…not about my location, about my ignorance of Yuba’s geography).
- You decide when “class” starts. Feeling a little lazy in the morning? Have an extra latte and wait until you feel like it to get to your schoolwork. Yes, there are still deadlines and expectations, but you have the freedom to decide how you are going to accomplish them. This way, you get to learn while you are at your best and most alert.
- Save time. You can cut to the chase by reading (or watching videos of) lectures, which you can probably finish in less time than it takes to attend a live lecture. Also, no need to take notes!
Okay, there is a con, depending on the kind of learner you are:
- Independence. While your instructor is only an email away, you do need to figure some things out on your own. Also, you don’t have the benefit of personally interacting with classmates (though Facebook is a nice surrogate). And you don’t necessarily have someone show you how to do something one-on-one if you need a little extra help. None of this is bad, but if you are the type of student that needs a lot of live interaction, an online course may not be the best choice.
To sum it up, it’s freedom v. freedom. Freedom is good if you like it and thrive on it, but not so helpful if you prefer more structured learning. If you are not sure if you’d like to take an online course, the best way to figure it out is to try with the type of 1 unit course on basic library research that is being offered. It’s not a super-huge commitment, yet you’ll get a greater sense of how you like to acquire knowledge. Plus you’ll learn how to take advantage of all the library has to offer.
Take it from me. In person, instructors hated me for falling asleep and never taking notes. Online, I get praised for my academic contributions. Online courses just may be your thing!