Letter: Online not always best option

Regarding The Advocate’s recent article, “Louisiana Colleges Lag in Online Degree Programs”: Perhaps this “lag” is not altogether a bad thing, especially concerning graduate degree programs — master’s and Ph.D. The question of educational delivery method must be thoroughly thought through. The first step in this process is understanding that something is not good just because a computer is involved.

Admittedly, the primary strength of online educational programs is reaching more students, who take coursework when and where they want to. However, in college graduate programs, online lacks the quality of the traditional classroom, with teacher and students physically in the same room.

The key to the success of the traditional classroom is the human factor — not found online. In graduate school, classes are usually smaller, and there is a closer relation between the teacher and students. Just as important, graduate classes usually involve more interaction between students. That is, students learn from each other.

Although in graduate school, many students continue to benefit from a certain amount of structure: (1) attendance requirement; (2) punctuality: (3) participation; (4) etiquette; (5) pay attention; (6) submit paperwork on time. These habits are similar to those the student will find in the workplace.

Perhaps the online method has its place is some situations. However, we should by no means throw out the traditional classroom. Should online education become prevalent, from a quality standpoint, in years to come I envisage a more poorly educated citizenry in the United States.

Earl C. Johnson

retired professor

Baton Rouge