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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Is E-learning the future?

"Despite the stereotype that university students are beer-guzzling spendthrifts, the reality is that most students today have to take on one or two part-time jobs just to make ends meet." according to Stephen Chartrand, third year political science major, hopeful journalist and author.

Photo: Brock Press

When you add up the hours, going to lecture, writing papers, preparing for exams and working part-time it can be incredibly difficult to maintain a flexible and balanced schedule.

This is probably the most attractive aspect of universities offering more online courses. It gives busy students the option to free up their time and devote a greater portion of their week to their studies.

While some online courses require the student to log on at specified times (class discussions or exams), this is often not the case. In the majority of online courses I’ve taken, you go online when it best suits you. In other words, you can view course material, watch video lectures, and contribute to class discussions according to the time constraints of your own schedule.

Now, I know for many of you that this seems like a silly and immature argument to make. Admittedly, there is some logic behind it. We are after all adults. We should be able to handle the demands placed upon us without complaint. Balancing our personal and professional lives shouldn’t really factor into it.

While this is certainly true on the whole, if our prime concern is the ability of students to devote themselves to their course studies, we have to look at the bigger picture. It is simply an economic reality that if you want to study at university one has to strike the right balance between school and work.

This is what makes online courses appear attractive to students. It frees up time that would otherwise be spent travelling back and forth between lectures and seminars. Moreover, the onus is still on the student to meet deadlines, participate in class discussions and complete assigned readings and assignments.

Unless your parents and a generous amount of student loans are taking care of all your costs (housing, groceries, tuition, books, travel and more), with the average cost of attending school today around $85, 000, if I wasn’t working part-time on campus and working nights at a convenience store, there’s no way I could pay the bills, buy my books and live somewhat comfortably.

In a recent Toronto Star column, Dana Flavelle wrote that “most students are well aware of the high cost of getting a degree or diploma and one in four say finances are their top source of stress – higher than doing well at school.”

Flavelle was referring to a number of recent surveys by Canada’s biggest banks who wanted to find out whether students were really aware of the costs of attending university. Although this doesn’t come as a surprise, it does mean that many students are looking for alternatives to offset the economic constraints placed upon them by the high costs associated with attending school.

Source: Brock Press