UCC Mainstream Online

Self-starter classes

Mr_Stein, flikr
Online classes give students the flexibility that many community college students need with the extra challenge of time management.

Online classes are a useful tool for many college students; however, for some they can be a very daunting venture. Many of UCC’s classes are offered completely online or with online supplementation, straying from the traditional face to face format of the classroom.

The burden of time management is something to which most college students can relate, and the flexibility of online classes can be a huge deciding factor when it comes to enrolling. “It means [a student] must be a self-starter,” Ginger Johnson, a Visual Communications student, said regarding the flexible time schedule of her online math class. Due dates must be met without in-class reminders from instructors, requiring students to remember for themselves.

The support and help of other students in traditional classes is somewhat lacking in online classes as there is little option for students to work together on assignments or to compare notes. Although there is often an available discussion forum, there is no promise that someone will be available to answer.

Online classes do offer several different resources that may not be available to students attending classes on-campus. Videos are helpful in giving students the ability to pause the instruction when working through a difficult task, or even to listen to the same segment of video multiple times without fear of disrupting other students.

Many times, quizzes in online classes can be taken more than once, and assignments can be reviewed prior to submission to ensure that a student has done his or her best work before it is graded by the instructor. In the online lab MyMathLab, students¬† struggling with a particular problem are given the option of reviewing a similar exercise before proceeding, offering the opportunity to truly learn the material for the assignment. “There’s no awkward feeling that you’re asking too many questions,” Johnson said.

Assignments in online classes are often graded immediately, giving students access to their grades in real time, another feature that is not usually available in more traditional classrooms. “There is a running total that graphs out your assignments and how you did,” Johnson said. This allows students a visual understanding of their grades, enabling them to better see where they are struggling and may need to improve.

Although online classes can be somewhat intimidating for those who are not familiar, they present a valuable opportunity to learn at a schedule and pace more tailored to the individual student and a flexibility atypical of the classroom environment.