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Sunny Jong
Noodle Expert Member

June 02, 2020

Recently, online classes have become more than a substandard form of education out of necessity. How do you know if you're taking good ones?

Online classes have always seemed to fall short of their bona fide counterparts; it’s just too difficult to capture the student-teacher and peer-to-peer interactions in physical classrooms that make the educational experience so holistic. Over a digital interface, for the student, lectures don’t feel immersive and engaging, and for the teacher, the class seems unresponsive and distant. It’s a mode of education that by all accounts seems to be wholly inadequate, despite the advent of technologies that have brought us convenience and expanded our capacity for interaction in countless other theatres of daily life. However, the conjunction of a pandemic and civil unrest sprawled across the states has necessitated that students be educated from home, and that teachers resort to online tutoring to uphold the nation’s future through teaching the forthcoming constituents of the real world.

That being said, even if it’s the best that we have at the moment, it’s nonetheless difficult to quell concerns that one might have on their quality of education in comparison to the on-campus fashion of teaching. That’s why it’s important to be able to tell if your professor is providing you with the same quality of education that you were receiving prior to the quarantine and curfews. Here are a couple ways to know if you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Course material that is original

If your professor is pulling resources off the internet that isn’t exclusive to your institution, that equates to a kind of self-studying you can do without needing to register for classes there. If you’re able to copy and paste class material onto Google and find answers to your assignments or even tests, then the purpose of attending class and engaging in the course content such that you can learn and adopt it into its appropriate applications in your personal or professional life is defeated. With online resources having been released by top universities like Stanford and MIT, if one was really compelled to learn about something, their databases would fulfill your educational needs far more than your institution would if professors weren’t capable of producing their own original material. Remember, you’re paying to get learning materials that you likely won’t get otherwise, so make sure that you can't’ get it otherwise. 

Online support and office hours

One of the biggest pitfalls of online education is that students aren’t able to get the help they need as urgently and in a fashion as organized as if they were to do so in person. Hence, especially in our current circumstances, make sure that there are resources available to you that would adequately fulfill your extracurricular needs beyond class time hours. So long as your professor - and any supplementary resource for that matter - have an online presence that you can consult for advice, you should be able to get the information that you need in furthering your academic career. Whether it’s through an appointment system, a video call, or even through simple email exchanges, you should have access to amenities that can aid you in your studies.

Organization of curriculum

Of course, especially for older professors who might not be as technologically literate, mistakes will be made in assignment deadlines, test grades, emails, and lecture notes. Emails might go unanswered or an intermediary page for assignment submissions might not open or close on time, and stress levels are sure to skyrocket in these situations. A good institution and professor, however, will have veritably less of these. If you’re constantly running into the aforementioned problems, and anything corollary in nature to them, then that’s a sign that your institution might not be placing a priority in the quality of education that their students are getting. Needless to say, there is a certain margin of (human) error that is forgivable, particularly for teachers who aren’t so tech savvy. However, extensive issues with an institution’s ability to connect with students on a level as fundamental as begin organized enough for them to navigate and consult means that you should reconsider if what you’re paying for is worth it.

It’s important that you’re getting the education that you deserve, and the burden of responsibility for making sure of that is on no one else but you. Online education, even with its often substandard quality, should nevertheless serve students in the ways that they always have been, and someone whose education is either personally or federally funded, you also have the responsibility to ensure that what you’re receiving is what you should be getting.

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