Pros and Cons of Asynchronous Summer Courses

Asynchronous online learning (online courses taught through a pre-recorded, self-paced model) has starting to become a prevalent form of education as we move further into the 21st century. Some of the many factors contributing to the growth of online education include younger students trying to get a head start in their careers by finished their education faster and the accessibility of online classes anywhere there is internet. However, with every product or service comes pros and cons:

 

The Pros

It’s convenient.

Commuting to school or a specific location is less of a requirement, which means that students are not limited to the classes available to them because of their specific geographic location. Asynchronous learning means that students can learn and study at their own pace. Directions and lectures can all be found online to look back at for future reference. Instructors can be highly customized to their classes and field of interest. The student has more time to reflect on their words, where as in a traditional classroom students may not always have the time to think before they speak. There is access to more resources as the students are already expected to have internet access to take the class.

It’s less expensive.

Generally online courses tend to cost less than a traditional summer class. There is no commuting costs as your student could take the class from the comfort of home if desired.

It helps the student learn to work with technology.

Learning in an online classroom will mean that the student will naturally become more tech savvy. After spending more and more time using a computer and problem solving different issues that come up your student will ultimately learn more, not just about the class they are enrolled in, but also more about technology as well. He or she will also have more practice with using new office software that will be useful in future situations.

It helps encourages diversity.

In these online classrooms your student may be working with people from all over the U.S. and in some cases even around the world. They will get to hear and work with students of completely different backgrounds and beliefs. There is also a more equal amount of participation, an outgoing student will not monopolize the class by being the first to speak every time.

There is less discrimination.

In an online community students have the freedom to be themselves,  no matter if they are  male or female, white or black, straight or gay, young or old.

 

The Cons

There is limited social interaction.

There may be more limited opportunities to interact with other students, especially in a self-paced course. There is less opportunity for personalized face-to-face interaction with teachers. There is no real campus atmosphere to create social interactions and build friendships.

There could be technology problems.

Between getting the right software, personal computer problems, and internet connection problems there seems to be a never ending list of things that could possibly go wrong. It may be hard for some students who are not already tech savvy to build computer trouble shooting skills. You may also need to upgrade your internet speed to be able to utilize the course. Time zone differences may also confuse many students pertaining to assignment due dates. In some cases, the only way to interact with the instructor is through chat or email which usually do not have immediate responses. Technology is always evolving and online instructors are expected to keep up with it, requiring those who typically prefer traditional lectures and handouts to adjust to using the online software.

It might not be as effective in some situations.

Memory testing is not the best measure of learning for every subject. It is also difficult to measure program results, are students really learning the material or just what the instructors writes in the modules? It is also much harder to detect when students are cheating on online courses because, in some cases, asynchronous programs rely heavily on students’ integrity.

 

In conclusion,  asynchronous online summer courses will present advantages and disadvantages. However, whether the pros outweigh the cons will heavily depend on your student’s unique personal situation. Students who are matured, self-motivated, well organized and have good time management skills typically thrive best in an asynchronous online class environment. In the end, it is important to think about and balance what type of learning is best for your student.

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Evan Erdberg