Thousands of students at Rutgers University take online classes and in many ways, they are revolutionizing the way people think of the traditional classroom.
Richard Novak, the vice president for Continuing Studies and Distance Education, said that the online class has improved at Rutgers over the past few years as newer technologies have been developed and more faculty members have been instructed on how to design their courses and teach online most effectively.
A wider variety of courses are being taught at both the graduate and undergraduate level online than ever before, Novak said.
There are newly offered online degrees that students who never come to campus and may be outside of New Jersey can take. Additionally, both students and staff have access to technical support, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
“In terms of drawbacks, most students have learned by now that online classes are not easy. This is not an inferior and lightweight substitute for face-to-face classes,” he said. “They typically require much greater discipline and dedication.”
He said that every year, the number of students taking online classes are increasing and he specifically mentioned how Rutgers Business School and School of Social Work online classes, in particular, are growing at a significant rate.
Alekhya Kunaparaju, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said that taking her online course so far has been effective.
Kunaparaju said that students will be able to learn at their own pace rather than having to sit through continuous one hour lectures, and that there can also be more interaction between the students and teachers online in comparison to in person because the more introverted students will be able to openly contribute to discussions and other interactive activities online as opposed to being shy and avoiding interaction in-person.
“I think there are a lot more distractions around you when taking it online that causes you to lose your focus and not learn as effectively as you should. Not having a class to physically go to in your schedule causes you to push the online class to the back of your list of responsibilities, and before you know it, you are behind on that week’s lectures and homework,” Kunaparaju said.
She said that a major benefit of attending a higher education institution is interacting with professors and other knowledgeable individuals who are truly passionate about what they are teaching.
When students are taking a class with a professor in-person, Kunaparaju said that they get to truly experience the love and joy professors get from their research.
“There is no question that students need to be able to learn with technology and future workers need to know how to work with technology, even work alongside robots,” Novak said. “Because of technology, the nature of work has changed dramatically and will continue to do so.”
Sanjna Namasivayam, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is currently enrolled in an online class and said she prefers an in-class learning environment.
Namasivayam said that there are many benefits that come with taking online classes.
“There are days when you don’t feel like going to class because you’re tired or it’s raining outside, so it was a huge benefit to learn the material on my own time, especially since I commute,” she said.
Namasivayam said that because online lectures are organized into short videos, she is able to re-watch them and take notes.
She said that she thinks professors can benefit from these classes by not having to teach the same lecture multiple times a week.
Although online classes are becoming more popular because of their convenience, Namasivayam said that she hopes that it does not become the norm because students would miss the opportunity to get to know their professors and classmates.
“It is easy to ignore the online class and fall behind if you don’t pace yourself with the syllabus. At the same time, sitting behind a computer screen doesn’t allow you to meet new people and interact with your peers to help each other out,” she said. “Another drawback is that you have to pay the online course fee, and sometimes on top of that, the website technology.”