After digesting the readings (especially Paul Levinson’s section), I realized how much I regret never taking an online course before. Many of the issues I have experienced with in class education are avoided when learning is taken into the realm of cyberspace. For example, the problem of taking notes while a professor (a better term for certain classes is lecturer) is speaking. I find that I almost always lose track of the class lecture when I am forced to take intensive notes. Being able to view notes, discussions and lectures online whenever I want, enables me to retain information far more effectively then in a classroom setting.
Beyond taking notes, being able to take classes online allows me to participate and learn whenever it is convenient for me. This is very attractive considering I work 30-40 hours a week and live almost an hour away from school. I can’t begin to express the advantages and increase in quality of life I would have experienced if I was able to take classes in the convenience of my apartment.
What seemed to be the most beneficial advantage was the way in which online education creates a sense of community. People taking an online course feel more comfortable expressing themselves when they have time to think about what they want to say. Because of this, students communicate more readily and sincerely; not only to the professor but to each other as well. This type of peer to peer communication in turn fosters friendships. Levinson writes, “Students in online courses become good friends, visit each other in diverse cities years after their online courses are over”.
Think about that! Students are able to create long term friendships without any face to face contact. You might even say that learning in this venue could be fun. If I go to graduate school, online education is something I will definitely pursue.