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Old March 24 2014, 05:34 PM   #1
Ro_Laren
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Location: The Badlands
Has Anyone Ever Taken Online College Classes?

I'm just curious to learn about the experiences of anyone on Trekbbs who have taken any on-line college classes. Did you feel that you learned as much as if you were in a physical classroom? Was it like you were watching a video or was it just a PowerPoint presentation (with or without audio)?

The reason I'm asking is because I am looking into auditing Principles of Accounting I and II at a local college this summer (I've never attended this college before). I'm looking into getting a Masters of Accounting, but wanted to take Accounting I and II again as a refresher. However, there is only one class time offered on campus: Mon - Thurs from 10:00 - 11:40 a.m. (right in the middle of the day)! There are a couple on-line courses available, but I am a little hesitant because I have never taken an on-line course. Plus, IMO there is a lot of interactive work involved in accounting, so I'm wondering if it would be better taking the classes at a physical campus vs. on-line. Oh, I just saw that they have a "blended" course available where 55% f the course is in an evening lecture once a week and the rest is on-line.

BTW, I told the local college that I'm unsure about taking college courses on-line since I've never done so before. They sent me a link to their on-line class orientation page, but it wasn't very helpful. It just discussed the technicalities involved with taking an on-line course (i.e. how to turn in course work and other boring stuff), but didn't let you see any sort of on-line course example with lectures and/or PowerPoint.

I guess I just want everyone's general thoughts on taking college courses on-line. Again, I am only auditing these courses, but want to really learn because the stuff in these courses is the foundation of all of my future accounting classes.
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Old March 24 2014, 05:59 PM   #2
Spot's Meow
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Re: Has Anyone Ever Taken Online College Classes?

I'm just finishing up an entire Master's degree program online (Library and Information Science).

The quality of an online course, much like an in-person course, depends almost entirely on the instructor. A good teacher will engage you with the material regardless of the delivery format. Anything you can learn about the instructor (for example, through ratemyprofessor.com or through the department's website) should play a big role in your decision to take the course.

As for the format...every school/department will do things differently. In my program we used software called Collaborate for lectures. It combines a chat room functionality with webcams, voice, presentation, and webcast possibilities. So, often the professor would be using voice, and students could chime in by using their own mics or by using the "raise hand" button and typing their questions into the chat. For me, someone who is very shy in a large group, I loved this format as it allowed me to ask more questions and be more involved. The professor would often show a PowerPoint presentation while they spoke, and would sometimes cast their desktop so that we could watch them look through files, find information on websites, work out an assignment, etc. More often than not, we were not required to attend classes at any given time, the professor just recorded them with whoever showed up and then we were able to go back and watch them at any time that was convenient for us.

In terms of the way the course content was delivered, we used an online software called Desire2Learn (D2L), and my department will be moving to Canvas this summer. This is where the meat of the course was - presentations would be posted here, instructions for assignments, "dropboxes" to turn in your assignments, written lectures, reading lists, etc. If you have a good instructor, there should be a lot of content here. This is also where the bulk of class discussions took place. In pretty much every class I took, we were required to participate in weekly discussions. You will always have the slackers who contribute the bare minimum, but in my program I found that many people enjoyed contributing and I was involved in many thoughtful academic discussions.

I have found that an online course requires the same amount of work and involvement, if not more, than an in-person course. Having completed a Master's totally in-person and now one totally online, I actually think that the online environment better suits my learning style. It has allowed me to set my own timelines so that I can really set aside time to focus on doing things right. What I mean is that often you are supposed to turn in certain assignments within a week, for example discussions or exercises could be due every Sunday, but how and when you complete them during that week is up to you. As someone who works full time, this was important to me.

So basically, what you get out of an online course is up to you...if you are truly interested in the material and want to engage in the course, then there are ample opportunities to do so. If you want to slack off and do the bare minimum to get by, then an online course is probably not for you, as it requires a level of self-motivation that an in-person course may not require from you.
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And time future contained in time past.
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Old March 25 2014, 07:03 PM   #3
Ro_Laren
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Re: Has Anyone Ever Taken Online College Classes?

Thanks for your thoughts! The professor just e-mailed me and told me that the class consists of lecture notes and "narrated slides." Hmmmm.... I guess the thing that worries me the most is that I won't get as much out of an on-line course of this nature than I would in a classroom setting (especially since this is a math-related course).
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