Debunking Myths About Online Learning

Numerous myths and misconceptions abound concerning online learning despite its growing popularity. Below are some facts to dispel these erroneous beliefs.

Online learning is becoming more common. According to the 2015 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, StudyPortals, WCET and Tyton Partners, more than one in four students (28%) took at least one distance education course. That’s a total of 5,828,826 students, reflecting a year-to-year increase of 3.9%, up from the 3.7% rate recorded in the previous year. Despite the continuous growth of online education, however, there are those who maintain their stigma of online learning being inferior to traditional education.

There are plenty of misconceptions and myths about online education, so it’s important to separate fact from fiction to help parents and children decide if it’s a good option for them or not.

Myth #1 – You can’t get high quality education online.

It goes without saying that when it comes to online classes academic standards may vary from school to school. However, many academic institutions, whether public, private or for-profit, implement rigorous processes for online faculty and online courses to ensure that they meet certain academic standards. In addition, reputable virtual schools are fully accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Earning a diploma from an accredited school means your child’s education will be recognized by potential colleges, universities and employers.

Myth #2 – Online learning can be more expensive than traditional learning.

The cost of education is a major consideration for most families, and while many believe that online education entails exorbitant tuition fees, it’s not actually true. To clarify, there are for-profit virtual schools that charge tuition fees; however, there are numerous online tuition-free schools that offer high quality education for students.

Debunking Myths About Online Learning

Myth #3 – Students who learn online tend to slack off.

One of the benefits of online learning is that it offers flexibility in regards to scheduling, which makes it appealing to those who need to work part-time or have family obligations to fulfill. However, virtual school students must also be very self-disciplined, motivated, and be able to work independently if they want to pass their classes. The work required of virtual students is just as difficult, and the knowledge necessary in order to get a passing grade is exactly the same, as those attending brick-and-mortar institutions.

In addition to this, many online institutions are stricter about limiting the class size than traditional schools, so teachers are able to engage their students more in class. The chances for a student to blend into the background, hoping the teacher won’t notice them, become significantly reduced in this way.
Student participation in online classes can be measured in a variety of ways:

  • Timed assignments
  • Timed quizzes and examinations
  • Discussion board posts
  • Evaluations
  • Group assignments

Myth #4 – Students lose valuable interactions with their instructors and peers in an online school setting and don’t get the personal attention they need from teachers.

Students still need to develop and utilize good communication skills and interact with their instructors and fellow students in a virtual school. In fact, in order to thrive and succeed in an online learning environment, students must make it a point to participate in class and engage with teachers and classmates using social media, discussion boards, email, Q&A sessions and video chat.

All the above-mentioned tools are also helpful for teachers and students to use in order to answer questions and address any problems that the students may face.

Myth #5 – Cheating is more common in online classes.

Experts say that cheating is not more likely to happen in an online setting than with traditional classes. In fact, online instructors have a variety of tools at their disposal to prevent and detect cheating, such as plagiarism detection software, student authentication software, and third-party monitors to observe the entire exam process. In some cases, students will be required to take their tests at a physical location, or use a webcam. For both, the students will be required to present identification.

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