5 biggest myths about online learning

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Some people avoid online education because they have preconceived notions about it. Those who have never tried online learning often have the strongest objections to it. But with more and more institutions offering high quality courses online, a growing number are discovering how effective it is and are reaping the benefits (especially during the pandemic). In this article, we will be debunking the most common myths that prevent people from trying to learn online. 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 there will be no real interaction because you are not with your teacher and classmates in the same space.

The reality is that interaction can be heightened because online learning demands engagement and a high level of participation. Students speak and share views more confidently in an online class perhaps because they feel more comfortable as many participate from their own homes. And since no single person or group can monopolize an online class (a teacher can easily put them on mute), everyone has a fair share of “talk time”. Additionally, interaction can extend into various platforms. Discussions can be sustained over Skype, Instant Messaging, Yahoo groups, social media, and other apps, asynchronously.

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. With this experience, you learn and get used to new technology as you go along. You can 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 in various parts of 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 as well as share files, documents, and resources. Groups can even share a whiteboard, texting, audio and video equipment. Sharing platforms like Google docs allow several people to work on one document at the same time. Beyond the virtual classroom, students can share ideas via forum threads, email, Facebook groups (or Google Hangouts or Edmodo), or collaborate on Skype or Facetime. And because sharing resources is easier through technological platforms, they 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 online courses have many elements that ensure students’ engagement through various activities that heighten the learning experience (for example, multi-media materials, online quizzes, and others). Many Ivy League schools such as Yale, Oxford, Harvard and Berkeley now offer online degrees (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.

Do you have any of these misconceptions? Try learning online today and see the difference. You might just be pleasantly surprised with what you experience and discover.
Article updated March 7, 2022.
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.

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