Do PLNU’s online classes have an excessive workload?

Photo by Julia Ausland.

Although online courses at Point Loma Nazarene University provide students with the opportunity to improve their self-accountability while also giving them a more flexible schedule, some students, myself included, may wonder: are we actually learning anything with this crushing workload? 

“I feel like the workload is a little too much in a quantity to be realistically beneficial,”

 said third-year nursing major, Haily Kaleo. “I would say the workload itself is more than any of my in-person classes. The hours I spend in-person classes are matched to how much time I spend completing the asynchronous material.”       

A heavy workload can negatively impact students to the point where they don’t retain any of the material in the class. Students will simply do the work to not fail. Oftentimes, I feel as if online professors forget that their students are taking other courses and are unaware of the unrealistic workload they give to their students. Online courses might be convenient, but that doesn’t mean the workload has to increase tenfold.   

“I definitely think it’s too much considering the fact that students are also in a lot of other classes, and I feel like online classes love to pile on a bunch of homework and try to compensate for the fact they are online instead of in person,” said Cassidy Gillespie, a second-year psychology major.   

I acknowledge that professors may be trying to compensate for the absence of in-person interaction and want to ensure students are understanding the material. However, overworking students and drowning them with assignments might not be the most practical way for students to learn. From personal experience with my online class, I had an excessive amount of reading, quizzes and discussion posts. It was especially hard toward the end of my Optimal Health class where we were expected to read a chapter a day, complete a quiz on the chapter then write a discussion post.   

“I feel like I’m always having to do work, in my world civ online class right now I’m doing two to three two-page papers every single week, on top of like four discussion posts and two quizzes a week so definitely a lot of homework, plus all the reading and lectures that’s given,” said Gillespie.

Additionally, the flexibility offered by online learning can inadvertently create a situation where students feel overwhelmed with tasks, as they’re expected to manage their own schedules and deadlines. While in-person classes have set hours of when you have class, with online courses, it’s 24/7. The reading, discussion posts, quizzes, tests and lectures all pile up really quickly. 

Timing is also a challenge for online courses at PLNU; the time frame of the start and end sometimes not being a full semester can become difficult to manage. Quarter-long online courses can be beneficial to knock out easy class credits quickly but are in no way realistic. The time frame is not sufficient enough to be able to comfortably learn and starts to feel rushed toward the end.     

“While I won’t go as far to say that I am not learning at all … I am definitely not resonating with the course material. It is harder to authentically engage with the content in a way that I can say, ‘Oh! I’m really learning!’ That enriching sense is just not really there. Without that in-person reflection, seeing and appreciating what I am learning is not there, and I can’t say I am fully engaged,” said Kaleo.