Mackenzie Peterson – 

Online classes are something that is offered at many schools. They are convenient and flexible with busy schedules, there is zero commute, and it can help improve student’s self discipline. Yet, many students tend to not utilize this option and stick with traditional classes.

There are many different reasons why students may not incorporate online classes into their schedule. One reason many students agreed upon was that they aren’t as interactive as they would like them to be.

Freshman Marissa Steele was recently enrolled in an online class. She said, “You don’t develop a relationship with your teacher unless you reach out to them or go visit them in their office, and some students might not be comfortable with that.”

Jasmine Baker, a senoir majoring in professional communication and emerging media has taken online classes in the past. She said, “Some of the classes have benefited me greatly. My only point against it are that some classes are more difficult to learn online. It’s better for some students to attend face to face classes.”

Some professors gave their views as well. Professor of communication and emerging media Mitchell Ogden has taught many online classes in the past. He said, “I think online learning can really foster the discipline and habit of independent learning and exploration that can sometimes be harder to promote in a face-to-face classroom.”  

When asked about his personal preference, Ogden said, “I prefer face-to-face teaching and learning. As a person with extroverted tendencies, I derive energy from human interactions. I find face-to-face human interactions more energizing than online human interactions.”

Professor, Mihyang An, is currently teaching an online class. She said, “In general, online classes are very convenient for students in the aspects of time and place. However, it is very difficult to make a class alive and engage students in the class.”

Several students were asked how they felt about the online classes at Stout and their thought on the direction that it’s heading in. Jasmine Baker said, “I think it’s okay. Nothing much has changed except the migration of D2L. Certain classes use the discussion posts mechanic for interactivity. I do think this is a great mechanic, but when you’ve used it constantly in your class, the discussions begin to grow stale.”

Ogden said, “My opinion is that Stout is not doing enough to establish a guiding vision or strategy for what we want to be teaching online and how we want to teach it. I would love to see a clear, inspiring vision developed by the campus community so we have a ‘brand’ for our online learning that is as identifiable and unifying as our polytechnic designation.”

“I would like Stout to step forward together, as an institution and a community of instructors and scholars, to say, ‘Yes. We are going to invest our time, energy, and resources into these specific innovative platforms and approaches to online learning.’ But I haven’t seen that leadership or vision yet. Honestly, I would be much more interested in teaching online in a synchronous (live) format. That can be interactive in most of the ways of a classroom—and even more interactive because you can have multiple channels open (e.g. students are discussing questions out loud at the same time there is an active group chat). It is impractical for Stout to develop it all on our own, but if we brought our resources together with a partner or partners, we could establish ourselves as a leader. But that’s not how we tend to think or operate.”

Mihyang An, said, “ I would like to increase several methods to increase students’ participation and interaction. I am planning to increase students’ participation in discussion boards. But I still need more to learn how to increase students’ engagement.”

So it’s clear that there are Stout students and professors who can both agree that the online classes offered are both beneficial, and can definitely be improved by being more interactive.