Earn more than just credits from online classes | The Triangle

Earn more than just credits from online classes

Photograph courtesy of Globaloria at Flickr

Drexel offers hundred of courses aimed at allowing students to finish their degrees and get out in the real world to make a difference. We know this, that is why we are here.

Unfortunately, a growing number of these courses take place entirely online and do not actually help students to learn, but function as a simple GPA boost for the price of writing a couple of essays.

Online courses at Drexel should require an interview to prove that the student is willing to actually learn the material before they can be accepted into the course.

Online courses have been heavily criticised since their inception due to their complete disconnect from the traditional teaching styles that have been practiced for hundreds of years. As always with new technologies, those that are heavily entrenched in their ways are slow to see changes in a positive light for the help that they bring to a whole new generation. Since the topic is how to educate the successors of the current world leaders, it is little wonder that there exists much controversy.

An MIT study searches to refute this tide of criticism by taking many of the courses offered at MIT and benchmarking the before and after scores of each of the students. After testing both the online and face-to-face sections, the learned amount is “somewhat greater than in the traditional lecture-based course” which proves the very opposite point. It also apparently did not matter how much the students knew before coming into the online course as everyone learned “as well as everybody else.”

These findings are almost enough to prove my point completely wrong until one realizes one crucial detail: These students are at MIT. Clearly this is an unfair study done on students at the highest intelligence level rather than those that are closer to the average. It is unsurprising that a study on those students who are meticulously selected to be academically inclined will yield results in a more positive direction.

In fact, when looking at the level of learning in the online classes of a community college, students at a California Community College were “11 percent less likely to finish and pass a course” if taking the online version of a course. This statistic makes sense when one considers that many students have difficulty with time management and tend to leave the lectures until the last minute. This is not to say that community college students are less intelligent. This could be because the students are juggling jobs and other responsibilities, or the fact that they do not view academic performance as that important in their lives.

These online classes should not be removed, because as MIT’s study suggested, to some students, they are just as good or better than any other classes. These classes just need to ensure that those who would be negatively affected cannot ruin their education with them. An actual selection or application process could be implemented to find out which teaching style has an impact on which students.


Drexel is very clearly not a community college, but some similarities still exist between the students who attend both just as some exist between those who attend Drexel and Ivy League schools. Drexel is not as selective as most of these high level universities, with the 75 percent acceptance rate in 2015 speaking for itself. There is a responsibility to the students to make sure that as many pass and go on to graduate and complete their dreams as possible. But they should not just pass, they should learn enough to ensure that the marvels they go on to create are functionally sound and that no one’s life is in danger because one person decided to click through slides rather than take 15 minutes to read. I agree that some of this responsibility is on the student, but Drexel assumes some of it too, when it accepts and promises to educate them.

Some students are incapable of taking online classes and doing well. More importantly, some students are incapable of taking online courses and learning what they need to proceed to the next level of classes.

Getting into online courses should require an interview to prove that you are actually going to learn. Many students treat online courses as filler credits and do not actually take anything away from them. With certain hurdles keeping certain students in the best possible learning setting for them, many more would do well and actually pick up the skills that are being taught. There needs to be a system in place so that those who graduate here actually deserve the Drexel stamp of approval that is their diploma, not just get pushed out the door to sink.