William Van Thunen


What do you like about online learning in your program?

Online learning offers the opportunity to learn at your own pace, to explore the topics that you find the most interesting, and to consider the implications of your newly acquired knowledge on your business or your studies.  The result is a far more tailored approach to the material that improves its relevance to the student.

What are some advantages/disadvantages of learning online?

The self-directed nature of online learning is by far the most challenging aspect of this class format.  Since accountability is reduced to your performance in online discussion forums and on periodic online exams, your mettle as a dedicated student is tested more in the online learning format than in the traditional classroom setting.  This is both an advantage and disadvantage.  For those who are highly self-motivated, the online format offers scheduling flexibility not available through traditional courses.  On the other hand, for those whose time management skills are lacking, this increased flexibility can easily lead to the student falling behind.

Another, often overlooked, advantage of online learning is the candidness with which people operate while discussing an issue in the online discussion forums.  While the discussions remain incredibly respectful of varying points of view, people seem less hesitate to offering counter-arguments and conflicting evidence.

What has surprised you about learning online?

I was surprised by the amount of interaction that the online learning format offers.  I was expecting never to get to know the personalities and perspectives of my professor and my fellow classmates.  I was expecting for the class to evolve into a self-directed study of the subject matter.  The reality was just the opposite.  I feel like my professor’s personality and perspective came across in her “For Your Information” postings and topic discussions, while I got to know my fellow classmates through the discussion forum.  I look forward to meeting them in person in the future.

How do you think your online program will benefit you in the future?

I truly believe that people are going to interact increasingly through electronic means.  The tendency for people to send a text message or email rather than pick up the phone and make a call is evidence of this trend.  Online learning offers the opportunity to train yourself to absorb, process, and communicate information arising in an online forum as electronic communication becomes even more prevalent.  To excel in this area, you must gain experience thinking critically when one-to-one, face-to-face interaction is not part of the equation.  Gaining this sort of experience is the aspect of online learning I believe will most benefit me in the future.