Ms. Hartsock, 23, diligently typed notes. A hard-working student who maintains an A average, she was frustrated by the online format. Other members of her discussion group were not pulling their weight, she said. The one test so far, online, required answering five questions in 10 minutes — a lightning round meant to prevent cheating by Googling answers.

In a conventional class, ‘I’m someone who sits toward the front and shares my thoughts with the teacher,’ she said. In the 10 or so online courses she has taken in her four years, ‘it’s all the same,’ she said. ‘No comments. No feedback. And the grades are always late.’

As her attention wandered, she got up to microwave some leftover rice.