MU students have increasing number of online course options

For college students, selecting classes for the upcoming semester can be nerve wracking. Should I take an 8 a.m. lecture or the late afternoon lab? Should I schedule any classes on Fridays? Not only are there a seemingly endless list of class subjects to choose from, students now often have to decide between a traditional, on-campus class or an online class.

Traditional classes at the University of Missouri vary from 400-student lectures taught in large auditoriums to 20-student classes held in classrooms scattered across many buildings. These classes offer students the benefits of seeing the professor in person, being able to ask questions as they may arise and discuss the material with other students in a simple, real-time manner. The traditional on-campus classes can be taken over an eight-week time span or a 16-week semester-long time span.

“I personally prefer a traditional class because I have the ability to physically see and speak with the professor on a personal basis as I may need to throughout the course,” said Kathrynne Black, an MU sophomore. “I also have the ability to listen to other classmates’ opinions and views during class discussions led by the professor.”

In contrast, MU students also have the opportunity to take classes through Mizzou Online. Mizzou Online offers a growing variety of online courses. These include self-paced classes that allow students between six weeks and nine months to complete, or semester-based online classes — a popular choice for campus students to take over the summer break. These classes follow a traditional timeframe with similar deadlines. Generally, the same faculty members who teach on-campus teach the online versions of the class. Mizzou Online offers the same material that is covered in the class in an on-campus format to students who are taking the Mizzou Online version of the course.

“The greatest benefit to taking online classes as a student at Mizzou is schedule flexibility,” said Stacy Snow, director of marketing and recruitment for Mizzou Online. “You can take a class you need, but fit it in among your other classes, work and other responsibilities.”

Students taking online courses must be diligent and proactive.

“From the perspective of time, online classes can require more effort, and from the perspective of understanding the material, online classes require students to actively seek assistance when they need it and to use their critical-reasoning skills to move through lessons,” Snow said.

Approximately 4,000 students each year are using Mizzou’s online programs to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Not every major is available online, but currently nearly 100 online degree and certificate options are offered by Mizzou.

“Some students think online versions of classes are going to be easier. I think most students will tell you that is not true,” Snow said. “Self-paced classes require a tremendous amount of self-motivation and time management.”

Many Mizzou Online classes require students to use online learning tools such as discussion boards. Typing out a conversation takes much more time and effort from the student than a simple in-person class discussion. Students also need to be highly organized to continuously work through the course work and remain on track to finish the course by the set end date.

Aside from the factors of flexibility and location, traditional and Mizzou Online are generally of similar content and structure. Though some courses have to be adapted to work well in the online format.

“I took my first Mizzou Online class this semester,” said Megan Steele, an MU freshman. “I had a class I couldn’t fit into my busy schedule, so I opted for the online version. I really enjoyed that I was able to move through the material at my own pace and work through the class when it was a convenient time for me.”

Whether students opt for the traditional, on-campus lecture or the more flexible Mizzou Online course, each student can personalize a class schedule that will fit their individual needs.

Olivia Hoelting

About the Author Olivia Hoelting

From a young age I can remember sitting with my dad at our family’s kitchen table looking over various agriculture magazines and newspapers. At the time, I was too young to understand most of the stories, but my dad would spend hours reading aloud to me. When I learned to read the stories myself, my dad helped me sound out some of the difficult terms myself. Little did I know, those small moments would be the first glance into my future career that I am now working towards. I am currently a junior studying science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I have an emphasis in agricultural marketing. I am also working towards a double minor in agricultural economics and political science.