Myths about Online Learning




1. Online classes are easier than traditional courses.

Online courses are challenging and hold to the same academic standards as traditional face-to-face courses. You may even find that online courses are more challenging because you must depend on yourself to stay motivated, engaged and active in the course. Avoid the common “out of sight, out of mind” pitfall through regular participation.

2. Online courses are not as engaging as traditional courses.
Online courses can be just as engaging as traditional courses — but in different ways. Online instructors have a variety of tools to foster and support online engagement. They may create voice-over PowerPoint presentations or videos to deliver a lecture, facilitate a discussion using an online forum or encourage group projects through a wiki site; the possibilities are endless. But just as with traditional courses, online courses require active participation to gain the most out of the experience. Additionally, students who take online course say there is more interaction with their instructors, since the instructors log on daily and respond quickly.

3. I can "hide" and remain anonymous in an online class
The truth is there are a lot of required discussions and other activities between students and instructors and among the students enrolled in the course. This allows for an opportunity to get to know one another in an open and honest way, so students really cannot remain anonymous. Since these interactions are not face-to-face, however, it allows for shy individuals to participate in a non threatening environment.

4. Online courses are self-paced, and I can do assignments anytime.
While students can logon to complete assignments anytime day or night, online courses follow a course schedule with regular due dates and deadlines. Although the anytime/anywhere access of online courses provides more flexibility than the scheduled classroom sessions of traditional courses, you can expect regular assignments and deadlines that will require you to stay up to date every week. Deadlines and due dates keep the class cohesive and the class learning together. Online classes are structured and organized by the instructor. Check the class syllabus for the schedule of assignments and their due dates.

5. Online courses do not follow the regular semester.
In reality, all online courses follow the same semester calendar as on-campus courses. Attendance policies are in effect for some online courses. Payment, scheduling, policies for withdrawing and other procedures are typically the same for online courses. 

Assignments, textbooks, tests, papers, lectures, discussions, group projects, etc. are present in an online environment just like a traditional class. There are deadlines for these assignments just as there are in the on-campus courses. Be sure to check your syllabus for due dates.

6. I can cram all my work into one login session.
It’s difficult to be successful in a course when you only log in once every week or two, just like if you only attend a regular class every once in a while. First, most students learn best when they have an opportunity to learn smaller amounts of material and then have a chance to reflect on it before attempting to learn more. Additionally, many instructors require regular participation in online discussion. Not only does this discussion help student understand new concepts, in some cases grade points are awarded for regular class participation. Your grade can suffer in many ways if you only log in once every week or two.

7. Procrastination is OK in online classes.
Procrastination is definitely not OK - procrastination in online courses can cause more problems for students than it would in a traditional course. Online learners need to be independent, motivated and self-starters since there is no one enforcing what is due when. Student must be able to set their own schedules and stick to them. 

8. Broken computers are acceptable excuses.
With computer accessibility on the rise, students have many options available to them for a back-up plan; most online instructors will not accept the excuse that your computer was broken.

A motivated and committed student can always find a computer to turn in assignments on time - the university library, computer lab and public library are all locations where a computer is generally available. Upfront planning and critical thinking is required in an online class, and that extends to making sure you have access to a working computer and internet connection when it’s time to complete your assignments.

9. The university will provide me with a computer for this class.
Just because you take an online course doesn’t mean the university will provide the computer - the university will not provide you with a computer for home use. You must have access to a computer, and you must have your own Internet access as well. If you do not have a computer available at home, the university has computers on campus available for use in various computer labs, as well as in the library.

10. I will be taught how to use a computer as part of my online class.
Do not expect your instructor to spend time teaching you how to use your computer or how to use the Internet. When you sign up for an online course in a specific subject, that subject is what you should expect your instructor to focus on.

You should know how to use your computer, how to access the internet, and all the standard online tools such as email, web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, etc, on your own. In general, you should have these skills prior to beginning your online course. Check out Smarterer to assess your proficiency in these areas.