Challenges of Online Schooling

Working in a field dominated by men and Baby Boomers, I often find myself hearing things I wish I didn’t. I recall listening to a Supervisor joke that he would never hire someone with an online degree because he felt that the candidate obviously had no “real” education. As a fulltime online student, I beg to differ.

Help!

For every dollar we save on gas; we spend it and more on utilities, supplies, and sometimes tutoring. I cannot raise my hand for assistance; help requires an appointment when the instructor is online, and tutors are available but only at set times. Usually, I have to send a message to a discussion board or private email and wait.   Yes, I can do my work in my She-Hulk pajamas but what’s the point when I don’t know what to do? And what if there is no tutoring for my specific class? My newest school offers tutoring through Smartthinking, but that did not help me at all in classes like Nuclear Materials or Statics (not Statistics). Also, there is the dreaded GROUPWORK. Imagine that your grade depends on other people who may not even be in your time zone!

But what about tests?” “They are open book aren’t they?” Unless you have to be proctored, sure are! Open book, open tab, and open window.   That is great as long as the questions match the notes or the answers are in the textbook! I have printed out whole modules of notes, had my textbook in front of me, had all of my homework printed out and still struggled trying to figure out where the heck the instructor got their questions! I learned that often, new instructors copy and paste the curriculum from their colleagues. Unfortunately, they may not get the updates.

Email No Evil

I don’t think it is wise to have a disagreement via text, email, or (God-forbid) Facebook. I have to remind myself that instructors are human too. They have lives, jobs, dinner to cook, deadlines, etc. just as much as their students…right? So when I get responses to questions I submit, why is it up to me (the chick who is paying for this) to not get upset when I feel that the instructor is a dick? Here are some of my FAVORITE quotes from teachers:

Why do you need to know that?”

“Maybe you should search online for a video.”

“Does Khan Academy have help on this subject?”

“This class was recently assigned to me. I will write back after consulting my colleagues.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I faithfully use KhanAcademy, Youtube, and MIT Open Courseware. I am a grown-ass woman who has been in school for years and would not ask for help unless I needed it!

After weeks of circulating emails to academic advisors, instructors, and the administration, I have learned to let it go.   Recently, for sanity’s sake, I started making peace with the fact that my timeframe for finishing school is obviously not God’s plan.

Then the next dilemma, if I drop a course there is no guarantee that I would have a different instructor. So, what can you do? CLEP whenever you can, or, find another school.

Attendance

At traditional schools, attendance means physical presence. You have the option of getting your doodle on, checking your status, or hiding behind a book with your eyes closed. Online, attendance means everyone-answer-the-exact-same-questions-with-the-same-reference-and-respond-to-at-least-two-people-with-no-less-than-100-words.

Online, we are told how much to talk! In my school, initial posts need to be at least 250 words. Depending on the topic, this could be like pulling teeth.

Distractions

Guess what? School is boring, and I would rather be doing __(fill in the blank)____.” I allot time for school, but that does not guarantee that I will not have writer’s block or won’t want to throw my laptop because the mandatory programs I downloaded refuse to work for me. I can (and rather) spend hours watching videos and reading about things that I enjoy.

All I’m saying is, online schooling is hard. Going to school online is often more challenging than traditional schools. Juggling school, work, family, and health is no easy feat especially when there is a lack of support. Hopefully, Khan Academy will become an accredited school since Khan seems to be one of the few teachers willing to teach!

What do you think?  What challenges have you experienced seeking a degree online?