Online Courses Not for Everyone

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that education is not a “one size fits all” endeavor, online or elsewhere. This bit about learning styles, however, did surprise me:

“Correlations between learning styles and success in distance education have shown to be inconclusive,” Strickland1Shawna L. Strickland, clinical assistant professor in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions said. “However, one common theme reappears: the successful traits of a distance learner are similar to the successful traits of an adult learner in traditional educational settings.”

The article claims that there’s “a mere 30 percent of distance learners actually completing their courses.” It goes on to mention that “Distance learning allows the learner to overcome traditional barriers to learning such as location, disabilities, time constraints and familial obligations,” but I’m wondering how much they really paid attention to the fact that those of us who enroll in online classes are often those who have the most barriers to staying in school? I take such courses because of physical disabilities, but I’ve still had to drop my classes repeatedly because of illness. There are still deadlines, and in fact, some online courses are “compressed,” making deadlines even more important.

Strickland also mentions “the lack of institutional support and isolation involved in the nature of online courses.” I’m not sure what kind of support is missing compared to face-to-face classes, but maybe that’s because I’ve never sought out any “institutional support.” Does she mean tutoring?

At one point, though, Strickland refers to “introverted personalities” and “shy individuals” as (apparently) being synonymous and not getting involved in the typical classroom setting. That’s a pet peeve of mine. Introverts are not necessarily shy! We’re self-contained, and most of us usually put more weight on our own valuations than those of others, so we aren’t as vulnerable to peer pressure. I miss good classroom discussions, as I’ve never seen any online class that has managed to provoke anything close. But then, I didn’t experience any good discussions in face-to-face classes at DeVry, and very, very few at SPSU. In fact, I heard more than a few of my fellow students at SPSU complaining about non-traditional students, particularly wanting to “talk too much” in class. They clearly wanted less discussion, not more!

Quotes from “Researcher Finds Not Everyone Can Successfully Learn Through Online Courses, Despite Their Popularity” at Medical News Today

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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10 thoughts on “Online Courses Not for Everyone

  1. Weird – the comment form is in Spanish.

    In my experience, schools just aren’t generally good at dealing with atypical students. Hopefully this will change with time.

  2. I think it’s actually Italian. And I thought I had it all translated. I’ll go back through the templates 🙂

  3. I hadn’t seen that particular article, but I have read what has posted about the situation. Homeschooling has always been a little more irregular in California than in states that have specific guidelines for us. One of the few advantages to Georgia is that we DO have a good HSing statute in place, no thanks to the HSLDA and other big organizations.

    When I was married to Katie’s father, before he took the job in south Georgia, he considered one in Huntsville. I vetoed it because to homeschool in Alabama, you HAVE to work with an “umbrella” school – usually a religious one. Ick!

    (See any lingering Italian?)

  4. Ya know, as overcrowded as so many schools are, you’d think folks would see homeschooling as a pressure release.

    And the only lingering Italian I see now is me, and I’m only half 🙂

  5. Every year, the NEA publishes a screed against homeschooling. The big issue is the loss of control of students who will not be indoctrinated into their ideology.

    Even the government/political types who are in favor of homeschooling often get freaky about people who aren’t like them doing it. They certainly don’t want to consider how many little heathens are avoiding de facto Christinizing in government schools!

  6. I wonder how many school voucher bills wouldn’t go to vote if the money could be applied to home schooling expenses?

  7. I have tried both distance learning and classroom learning, both have advantages and disadvantages. Distance learning is good for strong minded individuals who have the drive and determination to follow the course to the letter and make sure they commit themselves to completing the tasks without any prompting. Many people need the support and encouragement a classroom atmosphere can bring, a classroom environment is a good place to brush up on social skills which may have been lost. Distance or remote learning does have some advantages over onsite learning and this is time taken to get to a course, it also allows a student to fit in the lessons as suited to their free time. Personally I would rather take classroom lessons and enjoy not only the topic but also the social interactivity between other like-minded students

  8. Yes true distance learning suits different people at different stages in life. It’s only convinient based on what one is doing at the time, what compromises and sacrifices one has to make etc. For example distance learning is definitely convinient and appealing to an employee who is offered to learn while they work, especially during working hours. Thus they don’t have to leave work to rush to a classroom after work at the expense of their family and other personal obligations.

    When they talk about social isolation in distance learning, I think this is specially addressing the young learners, teenegers and those starting college. For this group of people, distance learning may not be suitable to them because part of their reason for going to college is for the physical, social connection and interaction with others, to interact with peers and build relationships. With distance learning, most often one is studying alone. Thus this young group of learners may feel isolated or miss that social physical interaction that comes with attending a traditional classroom.

    A key factor to successful online learning is motivation. A learner needs to be self-driven and an independent thinker who enjoys working alone. Being motivated means that one needs to be interested in the courses and program, keep in touch with the instructor, classmates, readings etc and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unmotivated learners or those with poor study habits often fall behind in their online courses.

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