Professors View Varying Success in Online Courses

Throughout one of the more recent semesters, UC Berkeley lecturer Dan Garcia began noticing a specific group of students that were falling behind – more specifically, they were the students that were taking his course without having ever sat in one of his traditional lectures within an actual classroom. Out of the 320 students that were enrolled within The Beauty and Joy of Computing, 60 students that were taking the course online where consistently providing poor quality work when compared to the students that were taking the course in a classroom. Garcia had spent months transferring the curriculum to an online format, even filming his course in high definition so that the lecture videos would be the best quality possible. However, he came to the eventual conclusion that the students would be better educated if they were to take his class at the actual university and within the actual classroom.

Garcia has found himself in a similar situation as many of the other faculty members that are participating in the UC Online pilot program. This is a system wide effort that is aimed at expanding the university's online education course offerings. However, it requires for many professors to experience the pains and frustrations that are associated with developing experimenting with an online education format. Throughout the past few months, online education has been getting a lot of support – including from Governor Jerry Brown and the UC Regents, who have pushed for a greater investment in online course development. They believe that there's a much larger financial potential to be provided by these courses than most schools yet realize. Governor Jerry Brown believes it to the extent that he even allocated around $10 million for online education in his budget proposal. However, despite the great amount of investment, courses offered since the launch of UC Online have seen mixed results.

Garcia believes that his online student's lack of performance was probably due to a lack of accountability. Most of the students that were in the online course were cramming the material right before they would take the exams and were not showing up to the online lectures or discussions that were being provided. This was in direct contrast to what students were doing when they were actually attending the course in a classroom at the university. Another issue is that Garcia felt as if he was struggling to engage the online students.

For some professors, this makes the online education option not worth it because they essentially spend more time creating an online course than they would creating a real world course, only to determine that the majority of the students either perform poorly or begin to drop the class when they are no longer interested in the subject matter. However, there still remain to be many professors who believe that online courses are the key towards changing how education is handled, citing mainly that these are issues that need to be worked out from trial and error. The fact of the matter boils down to what is best for the student and students still benefit greatly from the online courses available to them in today's hectic lifestyle.

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