OPINION | In-person classes are crucial in building an ‘active learning. active life.’

Students have the option to choose between lively classrooms and the focused environment of online learning in education. In-person classes redefine engagement, embodying the core of an “active learning. active life.” motto, while online learning offers flexibility and personalized pacing. Abigail Byington | Sun News Daily

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In a time when we are dominated by virtual interactions, the value of in-person classes is often underestimated. 

Imagine this. it’s your first day of college classes and as you walk into the room, you’re greeted by the excitement and anticipation for learning from your professors and peers. Now imagine the solitary experience of sitting down for another online lecture, where your classmates are simply a glare, on-screen image.

Stepping foot into a physical classroom offers benefits that cannot be replaced with online courses for the following reasons. First, in-person classes foster face-to-face interaction between fellow classmates and instructors. Second, in-person classes provide a higher chance of success for students. Third, in-person classes allow for more hands-on learning experiences. 

Let’s explore how being present in a physical classroom offers benefits that simply cannot be replicated by online courses.

Engagement and Interaction

Being physically present in classes encourages active participation and engagement, which ultimately leads to a better understanding and retention of the material. 

In an article by Owlcation about the benefit of in-person classes compared to online courses, the author writes, “When students receive face-to-face verbal feedback and constructive criticism from their professors, it instills in them a motivation to improve their work and build upon what they’ve learned. Educational relationships and bonds give in-person learning an advantage over online learning.” 

Additionally, the author explains how most businesses often tell university faculty that they wish college graduates had better interpersonal skills, and these specific skills are gained from traditional-style learning inside the classroom. 

Opportunities for group work, peer learning and networking are more readily available in a physical classroom environment. In-person classes are a great way to engage and interact within the classroom and gain skills that will benefit students outside of college.

Student Success 

The in-person completion rate is almost five times that of online learning. A 2014 study by Brigham Young University found over 5 million students were enrolled in online courses, and by the end of the fall semester, the dropout rates were 10% to 20% higher than those who were taking in-person classes. 

Unfortunately, many students register, pay tuition and drop out of online classes due to a lack of motivation. In-person classes enable instructors to gauge students’ understanding and tailor their teaching methods accordingly. 

Professors are also able to provide personalized support to struggling students and answer immediate questions. They are also able to give direct feedback on assignments, quizzes and exams to help students identify areas for improvement and adjust their study strategies in a timely manner.

Hands-on Learning  

As a media studies major at Utah Tech University, I’ve had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through my in-person classes. I have produced live broadcasts, created a podcast, filmed promotional videos for local organizations, represented the university as a public relations intern, and been a part of the student news organization on campus. 

The experiences I have gained at Utah Tech have provided me with a toolbox of resources to take into my career. As a senior, I am able to look back and think about what my future would hold if I had taken online classes instead of in-person courses. I know now that I would not have gained the hands-on experience and knowledge that will benefit me in the future.    

In-person classes have given me the opportunity to interact directly with my peers in groups, which has ultimately strengthened my interpersonal and communication skills. I have also been able to network with professors, peers and advisers. Additionally, I have gained confidence going into the work field since taking in-person classes. 

While online classes may offer convenience and flexibility, they cannot replicate the dynamic and interactive nature of in-person learning. As we all navigate through our college education, it is important to recognize and prioritize the value of in-person classes. 

Overall, I have found that the personal connections and sense of community that I have felt from in-person classes have been a more fulfilling learning experience. As the Utah Tech motto states, “active learning. active life.”