Online classes have become a growing trend. According to a recent survey by the Sloan Consortium, more than 5.6 million students took an online class last fall, which translates to about 30 percent of college students.
This number has drastically changed since 2009 when the average number of students enrolled in an online class was around 10 percent.
UNA professor of geography Thomas Matthews has taught online classes, as well as traditional classes, for six years, and though he hasn't seen a growing trend in his enrollment, he has observed some characteristics of the typical online class student.
"Many students use online classes to fill elective holes in their schedules and others take a class online if they can't work it into their schedules any other way," he said.
Matthews said that online classes are great for people who cannot come to campus, like a current student of his who is serving in Iraq, but he advises against taking classes online unless there is no other way to take it.
He said that in his online classes, he encourages lots of discussion, but it still does not take the place of in-class interaction. Matthews stated that another problem with online class takers is many do not understand the Angel system well, which is necessary for his and many other online courses.
"It is very easy to fall behind in an online class," Matthews said. He also said that many students forget to set aside time several times a week to complete online class work.
UNA student Greg Davis agrees with Matthews about the struggle of time management in an online class.
"I started to take an online class, but I ended up dropping it a few weeks in because it was too difficult to remember all the assignments," Davis said. He continued by saying that going to class helps him remember things from the class easier.
Chelsea Keenum, who is taking several online classes as well as traditional classes this semester, had a different opinion.
"I like online classes because I can work at my own pace and get things done on my own time," Keenum said.