Wearing pajamas to class is becoming more popular than ever. This is because fewer people are leaving the house to go to lectures and instead are attending them from the comfort of their homes. Lane Community College has seen a 20 percent increase in the number of online classes being offered since last year.
This change in traditional teaching is due to many factors, including the improvement of technology to even make this possible.
Personally, I have never taken an online class. Perhaps it is because I know myself well enough to know that I need the accountability of physically going to a lecture or lab in order to attend. However, many of my friends have taken online classes over the course of their academic careers.
Several of my peers noted the convenience in being able to stay home. “It widens my schedule since I don’t have to physically go anywhere,” one the friends I surveyed says.
Not having to leave the house lets many students take a break and not worry about the rigor of getting up early and looking presentable. Indeed, the courses provide flexibility in scheduling, though LCC notes on its online courses page that “You also need to be organized, self-motivated, and an independent learner.”
Students also see the benefits in accessibility. “Online works well for students that have children, daytime jobs or disabilities that make coming to campus difficult,” says Meredith Keene, a faculty member in the Media Arts Department at LCC.
Keene came to Lane in 2004, becoming a full-time web technology specialist at the community college. Her experience teaching online classes has spanned over a decade, and she taught her first fully online course in 2016.
Students have a lot of concerns when it comes to online classes, but she says there are also a lot of benefits.
A major topic of concern stems from the course load, Keene says. Many students worry that online classes will be less engaging or interesting than traditional courses, but she says the faculty and college work diligently to ensure that the online and classroom experiences are equally robust.
Online class size depends on the type of course. The departments set the class size, so lecture classes can be up to 40 whereas labs and project type courses will be closer to 20. While courses are supposed to be set at the same size in-person or online, some departments at Lane hold classes with a roughly 10 percent higher rate if the course has a high attrition rate based on previous years.
LCC also offers hybrid courses combining limited classroom time with portions of the course online.
Textbooks are a similar story. All online instructors must meet with an Open Education Resources (OER) librarian to help find curriculum resources that are freely accessible and openly licensed for use without a fee.
Textbook costs are a large barrier for students, and reducing the cost helps make college more accessible for students of any age.
“OER and low-cost textbooks save Lane Community College students over $200,000 per term based on a $100 national average textbook price,” Keene says.
After speaking with Keene, it became clear that online classes are only improving over time. The technological advances, availability and flexibility of learning online are all things that students are craving now more than ever.
Students are not abandoning traditional teaching or the standard classroom, but finding options that meet their needs. As a student who also works, I may consider online sooner rather than later to accommodate my constantly changing schedule.
Change is coming, and if I don’t have to change out of my slippers, I plan to embrace it. ν
Find out more about LCC’s online offerings at lanecc.edu/laneonline. Online courses at Lane have a $25 fee.