Over the last decade or so universities and colleges began experimenting with offering education through the comfort of your own home. How could this be a possibility? Would a professor have to come to your house? You may ask (if it was still the 1980s), but the answer is quite simple; through the internet. When I come home during the semester I always seem to have midterm or big assignment I have to do online. It amazes my parents but I’m sure all they can think about is, “I’m paying for you to go to school just so you can take classes online?!” As our society begins to rely more and more on the online community, it seems that universities are doing the same. With tuition on the rise, and students protesting against this tuition hike, universities are doing whatever they can to keep expenses low so they are able to offer as low as possible tuition. Online course do just that. Without the need for lectures and labs, all you need is a professor to set up the outline of the course and then get the students to learn everything on their own time. Throw in a couple multiple choice midterms and a few assignments for the teaching assistants to mark and “volá” you have yourself a course. Alright, that may be exaggerating the simplicity of it, but you get the point; it saves universities money.
Last year the Ontario government wanted to move one third of university courses online. They were pushing so that a student would be able to take up to three of five courses in a semester online. This is all a part of the government’s plan to revolutionize Ontario’s post-secondary education system. They also want the universities to offer a year round, 3 semester, 3 year degree and with the help of online education they just may be able to do this. The whole plan is to help universities save money so they can offer lower tuition rates but when someone makes a decision for a large group of people, you will not be able to make everyone happy. The Student Federation of Ontario is worried about the quality of education the students will be receiving without lectures and class time. Since the students will be learning on their own time, there is not a lot of time to ask questions about unclear topics. Sure you can post on the courses discussion board but it usually takes a few hours to get a reply and by then, you are usually onto a new topic. Personally I am a big fan of online learning. I have always done most of my learning on my own time, so the setup of online education fits my needs perfectly but I can definitely see where the Student Federation is coming from. Although I enjoy the online courses, I think the 3 semester, 3 year degree is pushing it. Most students use the summer to work full-time to be able to pay for the next years fees. If you take those 4 months away from us, we will have to rely on a part-time job during school on top of all the course work assigned throughout the semester. I just feel that the stress levels of the students who try to complete the 3 year degree will be extremely high.
With all that said I still feel as though online courses should be a part of the post-secondary curriculum. Most online courses are taken as electives for students. These courses offer relatively simple topics and allow you to do well, without dealing with a great amount of stress. Of course it is still a university credit, so you must do your fair share of work, but they allow you to concentrate more of your time on courses associated with your major.