Letter bemoans misleading online courses

I’m going to be penalized for taking an online course that requires you to physically be there. The four credit course that I speak of is listed in the course catalog as “Distance Learning/Web Based,” but I was informed today via syllabus that the course, unknown to me, requires a weekly meeting just short of two hours. How is it that Concordia offers a class that is listed as Distance Learning/Web-Based, but when it comes down to it, you are required to attend class once a week (and penalized if you don’t, or in my case can’t, attend)? I e-mailed the professor of the course to ask if I could discuss my situation and also enlightened him with the fact that I am unable to make a 10.5 hour round trip on a weekly basis, but they simply told me to look at the syllabus and see how much it would affect my grade for not being there. That was it. Fortunately, it is only 5 percent of the grade that I will be missing out on, but I still feel as though I am definitely getting the short end of the stick on this one.

So, here’s what really grinds my gears. I know that Concordia holds strong importance in having their students attend class on campus (which is great), but let’s face it, we all have or know someone that has experienced not being able to be on campus for 30 plus hours a week due to personal, financial, or other life reasons. Those students (such as myself) deserve to be able to take classes that are truly distance-based (without) being penalized. We deserve a fair and equal right to receive a higher education on time even if we aren’t able to obtain all of our credits through direct classroom instruction. There are many, many students that could benefit from having the option to take a handful of distance/web-based learning courses from Concordia. For example: the student who is forced to come home a semester early from studying abroad in order to fulfill their “global perspectives” course (Yep, this actually happened); the senior who doesn’t want to waste three and a half hours a week learning how to handle their liquor in a Wellness course; the student who barely has time to eat or sleep, let alone juggle a full course load, campus job, and an internship; the student who has to work countless hours to even afford to go to a private school; the student who needs to be with a sick or dying love one in their time of need; or the student with mental health issues who definitely has more important things to take care of during business hours.

Bottom line: It’s 2015. We’re the ones who are paying almost 10 times what our parents paid to attend a private institution (well, most of us). We are the first generation to grow up with high-end technology in our everyday lives, and we need to make sure we are getting the most out of it when it comes to our education. If public universities can accept the fact that students have lives outside of school and in certain circumstances are not able to come to campus for class every day, why can’t Concordia follow suit and provide us with the same educational resources needed to combat these issues? As of now, Concordia offers little to no Distance Learning/Web-Based classes.  If you want to take an online course through the Tri-College system (only offered through MSUM), expect to pay extra fees of around $200 per class (on top of Concordia tuition) to do so. There are so many incredible staff and faculty members on campus that have the capability to make changes like this happen, and that would be more than happy to start exploring how we can improve on the current accommodations provided to our students. I can certainly say that prospective students would enjoy the opportunities that even a small amount of distance and web-based learning courses could offer as well, which could easily give those on the fence of attending Concordia another great reason to come here.

Also, if you’re a student that is currently in one of those terrible situations above, it is definitely possible at any time in your career to try to pull some strings and work around your shortcomings. At Concordia, we are surrounded by great people with big hearts who love to help us make our lives easier. I, for example, am still taking a full course load through Concordia this semester (three courses and an internship), although I will be hundreds of miles away from the precious bubble. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to continue pursuing my education and at the same time be able to give my mom a giant bear hug every day as well as recover from my own personal shortcomings, and become a stronger person because of them.  So, even though it is super unfortunate that I will be losing out on 5 percent of my grade in one measly ol’ class, I’ll be gaining through experiences that taking a weekly 10-point quiz would never give me. I know I’m not the only one who could benefit from a little change here.

This article was submitted by Jordan Hanevik, contributing writer.

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