Common Myths Surrounding Online Education.
By Danika McClure
- Now that it’s become apparent that online education is here to stay, with millions of students expressing a preference for online learning, more students, both traditional and nontraditional, are weighing the pros and cons of online degree programs.
- Online degrees have come a long way in recent years, and while popularity has risen continuously, myths and misconceptions continue to exist. Below, we explore some of the most Online courses are not an easier alternative to traditional classrooms
For quite some time, online courses have been incorrectly viewed as an easier alternative to traditional college courses. While it’s apparent that online courses might have a greater degree of flexibility, many students and professors agree that courses delivered in an online format might be more challenging and more time consuming–especially for those who balance work and school.
“I’m not gonna tell anyone that it was easy. It was definitely hard. It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice,” notes former Northeastern University student, Michelle Tolin, who graduated from the university’s Online Master of Science in Taxation program in 2012. “I had to get my family on board, knowing that coming home and flipping on the TV wasn’t going to be an option after work.”
Tolin’s experience echoes that of many busy working professionals who use online education as a means of advancing their career. For dedicated students who are able to juggle multiple responsibilities, online learning is a great option. Those looking to seek an easy alternative won’t find it in an accredited online course.
- Online course credits are not accepted or respected by employers
A decade ago, students, educators and employers viewed online education skeptically. Now that colleges and universities have begun introducing their own online degree programs, skepticism surrounding online degrees has been resolved and replaced with acceptance. Some employers even consider online degrees to be an advantage in the workplace, as it shows that the candidates are able to juggle multiple responsibilities and commitments while earning their degree.
The quality of online education has advanced greatly in recent years. So long as your school of choice is accredited, has an established reputation, and you display the skills necessary to get the job done, students should see no difference in the treatment of their degree.
- Only unqualified professors teach online courses
Over the years, the growth of Massive Open Online Courses and other examples of online classes boasting hundreds of thousands of students, questions have arisen about faculty and the quality of teaching in online courses.
Staff and faculty will change depending on the school you attend. Some universities will have dedicated online professors, while other schools’ online programs are taught by the same faculty present in an in-person setting. Arizona State University, a university acclaimed for its innovative online degree programs, is one such school whose quality faculty teach both in-person and online.
“Students enrolled online through Arizona State University have the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest in their fields, as our online courses are taught by the same internationally recognized and award-winning faculty members who teach in our on-ground programs.”
According to eLearners, this practice has been adopted by many schools, noting that at least 34 percent of college faculty have experience teaching online courses, a number that is rapidly growing. Furthermore, they note that experienced teachers are just as likely to be teaching online as those with less than 10 years of experience.
- There is no personal attention given from the instructor
Many students are wary of taking online courses because they worry that they will have fewer opportunities to communicate with their professor or classmates in an online setting. Many suggest, however, that this fear is unfounded, with students finding they actually feel more connected to their professors than they did in a traditional classroom.
In an online setting, most professors log in to check on students daily, looking to answer questions, concerns about assignments, and are typically able respond to students in a timely manner. Additionally, the online setting provides means for students to discuss problems with their peers if the professor isn’t readily available. While online courses are individually oriented, collaboration is frequent and encouraged.
- All online courses are self-paced
Online courses are often praised for their flexibility, as they allow working students and parents the opportunity to fit their coursework around their busy lives. However, this does not mean that online courses are self paced–in fact, for most online courses, the opposite is true.
Many online courses follow a course schedule that features regular due dates, test days, and deadlines, just like your average traditional course. Students enrolled in online courses can expect more flexibility than one would normally have in a traditional course, but regular participation and adherence to deadlines is important in both the online and face-to-face environment.
With the number of degree options available to students, choosing a degree path has become more complicated than ever. Not only do students have the option of choosing between small town colleges and Ivy Leagues, they also have the option to take these courses in person or online.
Online learning has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, yet despite this, myths and misconceptions still remain prevalent in the education sphere. Many of these rumors are best addressed by recognizing that online education is neither better nor worse than traditional learning, but a different means of learning that will benefit some learners better than others.
Danika McClure is a writer and musician from the northwest who sometimes takes a 30 minute break from feminism to enjoy a tv show. You can follow her on twitter @sadwhitegrrl