Three things I hate about Internet classes


Summer classes are right around the corner for some, including me. At SDSU, many summer courses are offered online. Online classes have their advantages, like being able to work at your own pace (which, for me, involves doing a week’s worth of work in a long and stressful afternoon).

However, there are things that happen in an online course that I find extremely annoying. I’ve talked with many of my colleagues, and it’s not that these things happen in only one class but they happen consistently in nearly every online class others and I have taken. So here’s a list of the three most annoying things that happen in online classes.


Classmate introduction posts

My problem isn’t with the introductions themselves; it is nice to know the backgrounds of people in your class, and it saves me time because I don’t have to Facebook creep on everyone. The thing I have a problem with is instructors requiring you to introduce yourself then comment on others’ introductions in the D2L discussion board.

How do you react to a five-sentence introduction?

At the most, there’s friendly small talk like, “You went to Wagner? I have a cousin who went to school there!”

Like I said, that’s the most thoughtful response.

The other type, whether truly sincere or not, comes across as feigned interest.

“It’s really neat that you’re an engineering major!”

“I’m sure you’ll have lots to share in this class!”

“You have an interesting life!”

“Your job seems neat!”

“Your cat sounds nice!”

These comments could be on any part of your introduction and are always followed by an exclamation point, as if that makes the insincerity disappear.

It’s great for everyone to introduce themselves, and if someone really does want to react to an introduction then great, but don’t require it. It just leads to stupid remarks.

Minimum number of response posts

Most classes require posts on the discussion board for things like reading reactions. Often, students are required to response to classmates’ posts. That’s the great, but the problem comes when instructors require a minimum number of responses. Guess what that leads to. Short, stupid, lame posts.

“I thought you had neat take on the issue!”

“Great post! I never thought of it that way before!”

“I felt the same way!”

“Your one sentence was funny and made me laugh!”

“You would like this article!”

What a waste of time. Rather than require, for example,a 10-post minimum, professors should require a few substantive, thoughtful posts.

The Mirrored Forum

The Internet is not nice place. A trip to the YouTube comments section is a prime example, and it’s not alone. Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and Trutherism (any -ism, really), are all prevalent on a lot of discussion forums, complete with flagrant misspellings stupid usernames (I’m looking at you HawtBoiTruther69).

D2L discussion boards, however, are free of this. While not being a jerk to your classmates is great, D2L posts are usually too nice. Students often are required to critique each others’ work. Rather than constructively critique, though, students forgo helpful comments and opt for the far simpler option: meaningless remarks.

“I like the part where you talk about your cat. VERY FUNNY!!”

“Your paper was very inspirational!”


You couldn’t find one thing wrong with my paper? You don’t have any advice to offer?

D2L classes are a mirror of the rest of the Internet. Instead of becoming unabashedly mean-spirited, people become uselessly friendly. There’s a happy medium, and it’s being nice but honest and actually giving someone a helpful critique.

A Reasonable Solution

The unfortunate truth is everyone is guilty of doing these things, myself included.

But it doesn’t mean this pointlessness has to continue. Students and professors, be aware of these D2L tropes and make a conscious effort to avoid them, lest I have to read through more insincere one-liner compliments.

This column originally appeared on Tony Gorder’s blog Cool & Unusual Punishment.