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Editorial: What's the key to a good prof? It's definitely not a webcam

Nov. 10, 2010

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Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

All over the country, many universities are offering online classes in place of normal lectures.

Online lectures aid universities by increasing class sizes without having to fit everyone into a lecture hall, and online lectures make it possible for students to be able to take notes while sitting in bed, wearing their pajamas.

However, online lectures take away from the university experience.

Part of being in college is getting to know one's professors and other students, to learn from each other and to network.

Face-to-face interaction fosters a student's education and growth while at a university, and staring at a professor on a screen cannot foster the same growth that one could get with class discussions, where students and the professor could discuss their opinions on topics and broaden their viewpoints by listening to others. Students would also miss out on the chance of getting to know other students in the class, and friendships made in class are lost. Some professors try to create an interactive environment online by using chat rooms during the lectures where students can state their opinions.

However, students act differently online than they would in a classroom, and students are more distracted when they have complete access to the Internet during lectures.

Many students prefer taking online courses because it allows for the courses to be completed at the student's desired pace. According to the Sloan Survey of Online Learning, 4.6 million students took a college-level online course during fall 2008, up 17 percent from the year before.

The online option is more cost effective for universities, and it appears that online classes will continue to increase, with universities around the country facing budget cuts. According to an article in the New York Times, the University of Florida provost said he believes that online courses are the future of higher education.

However, many university classes are not conducive to online lectures. For example, in a journalism class, students benefit from reading classmates' articles and learning from the critiques of others. Part of journalism is about learning from the experiences of others, and staring at a professor lecture takes away from the learning environment.

Baylor's lack of online courses is a positive trait of the university. Students should engage with our talented professors and learn from their experience.

Online lectures take away from the physical activity of getting up and going to class. With America's growing weight problem, removing the physical activity of going to class for students allows them to stay in their room all day, without having to leave to attend a lecture. Students have even less of an incentive to get out of bed every day.