You’re likely aware of the benefits of online learning (i.e., flexibility, convenience), but you might be hesitant to try it out because you’ve heard that it’s not as robust or as well-respected as a traditional education. Or that it consists of just watching pre-taped lectures. Or that it involves no actual human interaction.
Misconceptions like these abound, but we’re here to set the record straight by debunking online learning myths. By the end of this post, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the realities of online education so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ONLINE EDUCATION
- Online Learning is Easier Than Traditional Learning
- Online Courses Lack Interaction
- Online Learning is Isolating
- Employers Don’t Respect Online Degrees
- Online Learning is Only for Tech-Savvy Students
- Online Learning is All About Watching Videos
- Online Learning is Inexpensive
MYTH 1: ONLINE LEARNING IS EASIER THAN TRADITIONAL LEARNING
The Reality: Online learning requires self-discipline and offers a comparable level of difficulty.
One of the most common myths about online learning is that it’s a cakewalk compared to traditional classroom learning. The truth is that online programs are just as rigorous as those offered in person and can be just as challenging.
When it comes to online learning vs. traditional education, the material covered is the same. The main difference is that online learners must be self-motivated and disciplined to manage their time effectively. You might have the freedom to log in whenever it suits your schedule, but you will likely still have deadlines for assignments, discussion posts, and tests. You need to be organized and self-directed enough to keep up.
On the other hand, some would say online courses are easier because you can control the pace and pause or rewatch lecture videos if necessary. So it really depends on your learning style.
MYTH 2: ONLINE COURSES LACK INTERACTION
The Reality: Online courses utilize interactive features like discussion forums, chat rooms, and collaborative group projects.
Another common misconception about online learning is that it lacks the essential human interaction that can foster learning and engagement. In truth, online classes are designed to promote interaction among students and instructors through various channels.
Herzing graduate Michelle Peralta says group work was the best part of her online immigration case manager training. “When we did a case study as a group, that was very nice because I got to collaborate with all the other students. We all pitched in with our ideas about how to approach the case and how to present our report,” she says.
Kim Melnyk teaches the community support worker program at Herzing, which started as an on-campus program but switched to remote learning when COVID hit. Kim did not expect to enjoy the virtual format, but she was pleasantly surprised.
“When classes were in person, it was more directed and less empowering. Somebody could just sit there, and even if they weren’t listening they could probably retain enough to pass the true-or-false part of a quiz,” she says.
“Online, we have discussion posts based on the readings. Every student has to respond to at least two posts. That gets the dialogue going, and then people are learning more and it’s a richer experience.”
MYTH 3: ONLINE LEARNING IS ISOLATING
The Reality: Online learning allows you to connect with people from all over the world.
The truth about online education is that it doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavour. In fact, it offers numerous opportunities for you to connect with your peers.
You can form a virtual study group to work collaboratively on assignments, discuss course material, and provide support. These groups can be formed through online forums, chat rooms, or social media.
Virtual study groups can provide a sense of community
“It was a little harder to connect with my classmates because we were online,” says Naomi Penner. She graduated from Herzing’s broadcasting and media communications program and is now a morning radio show host.
“But we had a Facebook Messenger group where I really enjoyed talking to a lot of my classmates. I got to know quite a few of them. One of my classmates works at one of the stations I work at now, so we still talk a fair amount and a lot of us are friends on Facebook and stuff like that. It’s been really nice to connect with them.”
Online learning also provides online networking opportunities, with chances to connect with a diverse range of individuals from different locations and backgrounds.
That’s something Kehinde Akande particularly enjoyed about Herzing’s online occupational health and safety program. “The instructor would throw out some key health-and-safety-related questions and then everybody got to discuss them,” he says. “There were people from construction, manufacturing, and other sectors, and you got this wonderful exchange of ideas. For me, that was very, very interesting.”
MYTH 4: EMPLOYERS DON’T RESPECT ONLINE DEGREES
The Reality: Online learning has become so commonplace that most employers don’t bat an eye.
While there may have been some skepticism in the past, employers today appreciate the quality of online education and are more accepting of degrees or diplomas earned online. After all, the final credential is the same—it’s not like there’s an asterisk on your transcript indicating you weren’t on campus.
Online degree credibility is determined not by the mode of delivery, but by the quality of the institution offering it. As long as you choose a reputable university or college, the credential you earn will hold the same weight as one earned the traditional way.
In fact, many employers appreciate the organization and time management skills that online learners develop during their studies. These skills can be valuable assets in a professional setting.
MYTH 5: ONLINE LEARNING IS ONLY FOR TECH-SAVVY STUDENTS
The Reality: Online courses are delivered via user-friendly learning platforms, and technical support is readily available.
A common misconception is that online learning is reserved for tech-savvy individuals who are comfortable with digital tools and platforms. However, online classes are designed to be accessible to learners of all technical backgrounds.
Schools typically provide tutorials and other resources to help students become familiar with the systems they use. Learning management systems like Moodle and Blackboard feature intuitive interfaces and straightforward navigation.
Plus, students can access technical support to help with any issues they may encounter, ensuring a smooth learning experience.
You don’t have to be a technical whiz—support is available
MYTH 6: ONLINE LEARNING IS ALL ABOUT WATCHING VIDEOS
The Reality: Online courses offer diverse learning materials and interactive content.
One of the most pervasive online education myths is that it consists solely of watching YouTube videos. But while videos are a vital component of many online courses, they are just one of many instructional methods used.
Online courses often include a variety of learning materials, such as readings, quizzes, games, assignments, and interactive simulations. Instructors employ diverse strategies to keep students engaged, ranging from multimedia presentations to discussion forums to live webinars.
The flexibility of online learning allows for the use of different modalities, making the educational experience dynamic and engaging.
MYTH 7: ONLINE LEARNING IS INEXPENSIVE
The Reality: The cost of online education is often similar to in-person programs, but financial aid may be available.
Online courses are often thought of as cheaper, but it’s essential to consider the complete financial picture. While online programs can save you money on commuting and housing, tuition rates may be the same as on-campus programs, and you may have additional costs such as technology fees.
That said, scholarships and grants are often available to assist online students in managing the costs of their education. Your educational institution should be able to help you explore appropriate options.
INTERESTED IN FURTHERING YOUR EDUCATION ONLINE?
Herzing College delivers online diploma programs in a wide range of areas, including business, design, healthcare, legal studies, technology, and more. Programs typically take less than two years to complete, and most include internships for real work experience.
Click below to learn more about what we have to offer.