So you are debating whether or not you should take an online class, great! Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing.
First off, if you want to be successful while taking an online course being a 'self-starter' is very beneficial. This is because there’s no concrete 'class time' everyone taking the online course has to be online. It’s designed so that you can learn the content at a time that is convenient for you. You ultimately have to be motivated to do the online class each week (and possibly spend the same amount of time as you would with an in-class course- which could be up to 15 hours a week). You also have to be able to manage your time effectively in order to keep up with the course. Online courses usually have weekly or bi-weekly assignments and a final exam that is worth usually 50%. So you need to be able to keep up with tedious assignments and a huge final in order to pass. Otherwise, you’ll be a month behind and have zero on two assignments.
Similar to being a self-starter, having the ability to learn and understand content on your own is a definite plus. This point is especially important if you won’t be in Waterloo when you take the course. Thankfully resources like YouTube, Google, and Khan Academy may help to explain a concept you don’t understand. Although, for some people it helps if someone explains a concept that you don’t understand in person. If you're taking an online class and you are not in Waterloo, it may be hard to find someone to explain the concept to you face to face. So if you're not in Waterloo and you prefer face to face teaching, an online course may not be for you. BUT if you are in Waterloo and you're taking an online course, you may be in luck. Depending on the course, they might hold on-campus office hours where you can go in and ask questions. If not, it’s still possible to find someone that took the course (or maybe a tutor) that can help you.
If you are taking a course online, I would strongly suggest taking courses that rely heavily on memorization (e.g. PSYCH 101, SOC 101 etc.) or is somewhat high school review (e.g. ENGL 109) as opposed to courses that rely heavily on applying and practicing the concept (e.g. GER 101, CS 115). This is because with memorization courses, if you have an online test, you can easily look up the answer as you write the test. However, with a practicing concept, you may find it harder to grasp the information over the internet. This is what I suggest; but remember you are not obligated to follow my suggestions!
If you are taking a language course based on grammar, reading, writing and speaking, NEVER EVER TAKE IT ONLINE. As a language major, I can attest to this. If you take a language course online, you are missing the opportunity to speak the language with others which is the best way to learn it. Sure you can learn it online, but if you plan on speaking fluent German after GER 101 online, that is an unrealistic goal, my friend.
These are some general things I’ve learned about the difference between online and in-class courses. These are just suggestions and by no means do you have to follow the advice from this article exactly. I wrote this in hopes it will help people decide whether or not an online class is right for them. Hope this article was helpful and good luck choosing courses!