Online degrees shouldn’t replace a real diploma

DKS Editors

Provost Robert Frank announced that undergraduate degrees completed entirely online would be available at Kent State sooner rather than later. We’re not so sure this is the kind of forward thinking Kent State needs.

Of course we see the relevance of an online degree for say, single mothers or anyone who has a schedule that just can’t accommodate an in-class workload. Online classes are actually a pretty cool application of our generation’s technological capabilities. They offer cheaper, productive ways to give people an education. What could possibly be wrong with that?

The issue lies in the simple fact that online classes don’t deliver the way real, go-to-class lectures or labs do. Many of us can say we’ve taken an online class at some point. In fact, according to the Sloan Consortium, 4.6 million people took at least one online course in 2008.

But these classes, although convenient, don’t get the job done as thoroughly as possible. The most basic elements lacking from an online degree are active discussion and hands-on experience with a professor. Communicating with a screen doesn’t engage problem-solving ideals and innovative thinking the way an active lecture does.

Without face-to-face interaction, the workload is often lighter too. We know a lot of us could use a lighter workload, but think of all the knowledge you’re passing up. You pay a hefty tuition, shouldn’t you get your money’s worth?

Work that is submitted for online courses also provides very limited feedback. It’s hard for a professor to critique you via e-mail.

Our point here isn’t that online classes don’t have their place in the realm of higher education. Online degrees give people who never thought they’d earn a college degree a chance to improve their lives. We just hope students young and old who have the ability and the time to go to class don’t pass up the opportunity. Getting an education versus getting a better education are two different things all college-goers must consider. If you choose to sit at home you could seriously miss out. You’re only cheating yourself.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.