When I started school, the thought of taking classes online was completely foreign to me. After all, isn’t that the point of going to class? Would an online class just be rehashing what is already in the book? No, it turns out. Online classes are just as interactive as a live class, which can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. And since we are a blog that focuses on college safety, we’re going to focus on the potentially dangerous side of online classes. So here are a few things you need to know:
1.) You still have to be careful of the information you provide. I vividly remember the first day of one of my online classes. As is the case with most online classes, professors use the first week for students to get to know each other. You usually post a little about yourself (where you are from, what you are majoring in, what are your plans after graduation, etc.). Thing is though, in a live class, people are aware of what’s happening. No one says, “I take my dog for a walk everyday right outside my house…it’s the yellow one three blocks from here on the left.” In an online class, that does get said. Something along the lines of, “I take my dog for a walk everyday right outside my house. It’s only a couple blocks from the university, so that’s nice.” Just because it’s an online class doesn’t mean there aren’t potential creeps lurking about.
2.) Have a real password. You’d be surprised how many people use “Password1!” as their account password. Think it doesn’t matter? Think that there would be no reason to hack into your student account anyway? Think again. Your student account has access to all your homework, test answers and other class information that any lazy student would love to get their hands on. And one they break in, they also have access to other things, like your backup email address. And it really isn’t too tough to break into someone’s email. If they’re like 80% of the population, they use the same password (or some variation of it) for every account (social media, bank…)! Create a real password and guard it with your life.
3.) Stay where there’s a record. In an online class, everything becomes stored as history. So if you and another classmate are getting into a very heated discussion about the latest fossil findings, you can always break off into a personal discussion, but keep it there. Don’t agree to meet at your local coffee house (sure it’s a public place, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t planning on following you home at the end of the night). Almost all online classes anymore have a chat function, which is just as convenient (okay, close enough) to talking in person. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation because it’s a “classmate.” It’s still a stranger.