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Hidden Curriculum in Online Classes

The hidden curriculum may be defined as a variety of unwritten information and lessons for students. As contrasted with the usage of formal teaching methods, this information is frequently provided indirectly through policies, observations, behaviors, and attitudes. However, the hidden curriculum is regarded as the inevitable and highly essential feature of the students’ community and is realized through communication and social interaction between young people.

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The consequences of a hidden curriculum affect the student’s vision of the outside world as well. That is why the majority of educational institutions of all levels currently demonstrate a specific pattern of the hidden curriculum. It may substantively affect the student’s development, learning, and social life, both in positive and negative ways. In general, this type of curriculum may influence students’ self-esteem and their attitude towards their classmates, other people, educational standards, nature, cultural values, and ethical norms. Not only ordinary classes but online classes as well have their hidden curriculum that is characterized by certain specific features.

The hidden curriculum of online classes substantially differs from the hidden curriculum of face-to-face education. The key factor that determines all peculiarities and differences in the absence of communication with other students during online classes as they imply an individual educational process and direct interaction with a teacher. For ordinary classes, visual and audible aspects, such as the teacher’s facial expressions and voice tone, are highly significant as the way a teacher conducts classes may intentionally or involuntarily shape students’ attitudes towards subject matters or other students. In addition, students’ behavioral patterns that are discouraged or encouraged by a teacher will inevitably affect their personal development in the future.

The structure and standards of educational institutions substantively contribute to certain aspects of the hidden curriculum that may appear alongside the official written curriculum, as well. The rules of educational facilities may form norm-following behavior as they demonstrate what actions and attitudes bring either reward or punishment and influence on life perspectives. For instance, the school’s strict dress code may form the idea that formal clothes and personal appearance are highly valuable for a successful career in the future. However, the institution’s overly strict rules and guidelines and a lack of comfort or appropriate equipment may hurt the students’ evaluation of self-worth.

Nevertheless, the absence of communication with classmates in the process of studying does not mean the absence of a hidden curriculum in online classes. Similar to face-to-face classes, online education substantially depends on the professor’s personality and the way of teaching that influence individual plans for students. One specific feature of the online classes’ hidden curriculum includes the teacher’s approach towards class themes.

For instance, if a teacher of history is dedicated to his or her subject and passionately elaborates educational plans, students may develop a substantive interest in history as well. On the contrary, an indifferent teacher may negatively affect not only students’ attitudes towards a specific subject but education in general. Some professors demand top results and performance from their students who should strictly follow the written curriculum, while other teachers highly appreciate young people’s independence and imagination. Different attitudes of teachers may influence students’ characters in the future.

Online classes implicate individual learning when a teacher only provides help, corrects mistakes though he or she does not exercise total control over students. That is why the hidden curriculum of such classes encourages the development of young people’s creativity and improvisation. Moreover, online classes positively contribute to the students’ competence in the usage of modern information technologies and hardware regardless of their future specialty.

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Another specific message of the hidden curriculum in online classes that may be regarded as the most significant one is the importance of self-discipline. The absence of direct control that characterizes online education substantially develops the students’ ability to organize their day and create their schedule to complete all necessary tasks. In addition, young people will receive the highly essential skills of time management and working to deadlines as online classes implicate a time-sensitive learning process.

In general, the hidden curriculum both for online and face-to-face classes specifies the necessity to obey rules, standards, and laws, listen to people who have more knowledge and experience, and try to avoid mistakes as they may lead to negative results of any activities. Through the substantial freedom offered by teachers during the process of online education and a lack of control, students are supposed to enhance their creativity, imagination, and improvisation and develop the skills of time management and self-discipline that will be necessary for their life in the future.

It is reasonably difficult to say whether the online classes’ hidden curriculum has a positive or negative effect on students after graduation as its outcomes are substantively determined by individual characteristics. Certain students may view the hidden curriculum as a highly negative experience that causes substantial problems and limits further success in various spheres of life. However, for the majority of students and me, the necessity to obey rules and the ability to plan time independently that was learned from the hidden curriculum will be extremely beneficial in the future. The skills or time-management, the sense of duty, and creativity are valued by a substantial number of employers.

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