5 biggest myths about online learning

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Some people shun online education because they have preconceived notions about it. More often than not, those who have never tried learning online have the strongest objections to it. With more and more institutions offering high quality courses online, a growing number are discovering how effective online learning is and are reaping the benefits. In this article, we will be debunking the most common myths that prevent people from trying this new method of learning. See if you have some of them:

Myth 1: Online learning is impersonal

This is the most common misconception about online learning. Many think that because you can’t see your teacher and classmates face-to-face there will be no real interaction.

Personal interaction can be heightened because online learning demands engagement and a high level of participation. Students can speak more confidently and share in an online class perhaps because they are more comfortable (many participate from their own bedrooms). And because a person or group cannot monopolize an online class (it’s easier to “mute” them), everyone has a fair share of “talk time”. You can talk and touch base with your classmates and instructor all the time and in various venues. Discussions can even be sustained and spill over to other technological platforms (like Skype, Instant Messaging, Yahoo groups, social media, etc.) and even IRL (In Real Life).

Myth 2: You have to be tech-savvy

Yes, online learning requires basic computer literacy. But it does not require you to be a technology wizard. Before you start any class, detailed instructions are given. This can be in the form of text (posted or emailed), or video tutorials. Most class websites have “help” sections and FAQ pages (Frequently Asked Questions).You can also ask your instructor for help anytime. While in an online class, you learn and get used to new technology as you go along. You become an expert with continued use.

Myth 3: You’re on your own

Online learning will train you to be a self-directed learner but you’re far from being alone and lonely. For one, your instructor or facilitator will always be there for help and feedback. Many classes are also structured and designed for students to collaborate. And because it’s online, many classes have a global reach, allowing you to connect, work, and make friends with other students all over the world.

Myth 4: Group work is impossible

Technology has made it possible for students to go into virtual breakout rooms to work on projects. Groups can even share a whiteboard, texting, audio and video equipment. Beyond the virtual classroom, students can share ideas via forum threads, email, Facebook and Yahoo groups (or Google Hangouts or Edmodo), or collaborate on Skype or Facetime. And because sharing resources is easier through technological platforms, groups can conduct more in-depth researches and benefit from continued collaboration.

Myth 5: Online learning is low quality

Many expert educators now specialize in designing online courses. This is why they have many elements that ensure students’ engagement in the subject and offer varied activities that heighten the learning experience. Many Ivy League schools such as Yale, Oxford, Harvard and Berkeley offer online degrees and video courses (Academic Earth/Coursera). Academic institutions as well as employers have also come to recognize online degrees and credits, giving them the same level of importance as on campus education.

So what’s stopping you? Try learning online today and see the difference. You might just be pleasantly surprised with what you might experience and discover.
Sources: 10 biggest myths about synchronous online teaching, Roseanna DeMaria and Ted Bongiovanni, Educause Review; Where to get the best free education online by Whitson Gordon, Lifehacker.

Back to top

Community Resources

You can find English Online’s flexible learning options here.

Still not convinced? Read 5 reasons why you should try online learning.

Back to top


Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Become an Autonomous Language Learner (B-ALL)

2 chat bubbles with maple leaves in them

Course description Abbreviated as B-ALL, Become an Autonomous Language Learner is a five-unit course with English Online Inc. The course… Read more »

iEnglish Activities

Article thumbnail fallback

iEnglish is a set of resources and videos to give learners the tools they need to take more ownership for… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.