Online classes are classes, too

(So, please, try to capitalize at the beginning of your sentence)

Emily Wolfrum, Editor-in-Chief

At Pace, all three credit courses are certainly not created equal. This disparity in quality, however, is no more visible than through student “participation” in online courses.

Like many students, I chose to take online classes to spare myself the rigid, weekly three hours of class time. With a full schedule and other responsibilities, being able to tackle coursework on my own time seemed ideal. My decision was all about maximizing convenience, not about minimizing effort.

I try to take my online classes as seriously as any other (“try” being the operative word here). But, it does become difficult to keep up my motivation when I’m reading through last-minute, unedited posts by fellow students in my classes.

In nearly all cases, I can attribute their sloppy shortcomings to nothing more than laziness. If the week’s lesson is even referenced at all within a post, the student’s writing is still riddled with careless misspellings, lack of capitalization, and informal, cringe-worthy language.

News flash: Blackboard doesn’t spell check. You’ll have to do that yourself.

Broad generalizations are an easy solution for the student who wishes to pass on the required readings, and additional research is always treated as an option and rarely credible when included.

In no other class could I even imagine students being permitted to write without cited evidence. But, somehow, week after week, I continue to read paragraphs of personal opinion and speculation.

Perhaps the most frightening, however, is the inattentiveness demonstrated in peer comments.

I’m not sure that there is a way to master student replies. Certainly, every student in an online class knows the awkwardness that is critiquing another student’s work.

I’ve heard others refer to it as a formula: say something nice, critique them if you have to, and then end on another compliment, so they forget the insult.

I’ve adopted this tactic for the most part, but it does become quite difficult. Every now and then, I have to actively refrain from commenting on a student post because I simply have nothing nice to say about it, and I’m certainly not going to lie.

But some do. Or, at least I like to think they do, because simply replying “good job” on a piece of writing I would have been ashamed to turn in as a fourth grader, should never ever be authentic.

Regardless, I try to respond as frankly as I might in any other class discussion, reading each post carefully, and trying to find both positive and negative in the student’s thought process. With this consideration in mind, I am always eager to read the feedback others give to me. Yet, these responses often do not relate to my ideas at all and feature, once again, vague generalities that “kind of, sort of” pertain to my initial posting.

Without valuable critique, it is very hard for me to measure any form of progress within my online classes. And, judging by the lack of improvement by other students in those courses, I cannot imagine that they are gaining much either.

College is supposed to be that last big step before we enter the professional world, and assignments, no matter what class they are for, should be treated as such. So, read over that post, maybe throw in a good reference, and seriously think before you submit.