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Thursday, May 28, 2020

OPINION: Don’t teach me through Canvas

We live in a very strange era of education. Tuition is higher than ever, but how much of our education is actually coming from classroom experience with a professor?

Technology is swiftly changing the way we communicate and function on a daily basis. Innovative design is being implemented into just about everything. Smartphones are a great example of this — pack a computer, phone, camera and more into a handheld device to make people’s lives easier. Technology is pretty awesome, but it certainly works better in some aspects of our lives than others.

From 2003 to 2013 online class enrollment increased consistently. In fall 2011, 32 percent of all students enrolled in higher education nationwide took at least one online course. The convenience of obtaining college credits at your leisure has gotten people’s attention, and the trend has caught on. Colleges across the nation utilize various platforms such as Tophat, Canvas, Moodle and others to post assignments, field questions, and communicate with students.

Like any technology, online supplementation to our education comes with its pros and cons. The influx of hybrid or online classes has reduced the need for students to buy textbooks, which is a change that everyone can back. Homework is more convenient because the dog can never eat it; all you have to do is click submit. Working students can enroll in online classes that work better with their schedule.

However, the accessibility to information and course work has changed the way professors teach. Now that teachers no longer have a responsibility to print out and distribute an assignment, there seems to be a lax approach to how lectures are given and classes are held. In many cases, classes consist of watching a powerpoint that’s faster than anyone can track, but don’t worry, it’ll be uploaded on Canvas with a ton of other files that you should probably read to understand the final project or exam. Some professors here at Western are replacing a lecture a week with an online assignment which, while convenient, cannot replace the face-to-face learning experience of a lecture or class discussion.

Some students thrive in the this new form of school, independently seeking out the information and keeping a careful eye on the Canvas page. But it doesn’t work for everybody and the format is certainly far from perfect. The online pages that professors use are always changing — we are hamsters in a lab that is the university world.

Like anything, there are complaints to be had but also a silver lining. Some professors utilize platforms like Canvas and Tophat in ways that truly add to the class. It can be tool that improves communication and learning if used properly. Unfortunately, some professors aren’t up to date with the technology and seem to abuse the ability to simply upload material, sit back and assume that the students can glean enough information from the online information to pass the class.

The editorial board is composed of Anna Jentoft, Dylan Green, Brandon Stone and Stephanie Villiers.

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