Early attempts at online classes were unwieldy, being a poor substitute for the classroom while also being highly inconvenient. But the online classroom continues to develop, and the virtual classroom is becoming more instructive as well as more accessible. Some online universities now boast mobile platforms for both i-devices and Android phones, making online classes continuously available to students on the go.
Online learning has been a hot topic in education for both pedagogical and practical reasons. Educational experts worry that the online experience is no surrogate for the experience of a “real” classroom. Some worry that online classes will replace in-person classes and that the quality of education will plummet.
Teachers and students alike also worry that online classes will be more time-intensive than traditional classes. Typing out thoughtful messages on a forum can take much longer than conversing in-person can. Accessing resources like class schedules, syllabi, or assignment sheets can also sometimes be unwieldy and lead to delays.
But as the technological infrastructure for online classes improves, the logistical and pedagogical issues are both being addressed.
The quality of online education continues to increase as features like teleconferencing are used in more and more programs. A good online course isn’t just reading words on a screen; it is participating in a virtual classroom. Students watch and participate in real discussions. The elements of human interaction in a course are being approximated to closer and closer levels with conferencing systems.
Advances in technology are also making online classes easier and more convenient for teachers and students. For instance American InterContinental University has a mobile app that allows students to log in to check class resources, post on forums, and more using their mobile devices. This app was first developed for the apple platform, but AIU has recently released an app for the Android system as well. Now an AIU student with almost any smart-phone can check in on his or her coursework from wherever they are.
With the AIU mobile app, students can check grades, chat with instructors, view class assignments, download podcasts of lessons and use other elements of the online system, all from their phone. This is a far cry from the earliest pedagogical platforms.
Obviously the logistics of online programs has grown a great deal, and it can no longer be described as “unwieldy.” More like “convenient.”