As online learning continues to grow as an increasingly viable option for postsecondary and continuing education (at least 5.8 million US students are enrolled in at least one online course), especially as non-traditional students are becoming the norm, there still exists a universal unfamiliarity with online learning that has led to the proliferation of several myths or misconceptions about this popular mode of learning.

However, the online learning myths you may be thinking of are not typically the ones in existence today. For example, unlike the myth just a few short years ago that online learning means poor quality, the new myth today is that when a well-regarded institution offers a course online the quality will be good.

The myths listed, compiled by Cypher Learning, are based on research and trends noted in Forbes, the Online Learning Consortium, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and Medium.

8 Online Learning Myths

1. Online does not mean high quality

Though most reputed colleges and universities rigorously try to maintain parity between on-campus and online programs with respect to quality of teaching standards, many institutions are still in their online program infancy and may need to improve this relatively newer mode of education delivery. Also, some institutions may not have rigorous standards for their online learning programs, as developing universal baseline standards for distance education is also in its infancy. It all boils down to the robustness of the infrastructure required for providing online instructions, the experience of the teachers, and their level of competence in handling web-based tools for education via the internet.

2. Earning an online degree is easy

Though students may have the flexibility of studying at theirr own pace, they’ll also have to take into account that there’ll be nobody to remind them about a particular project or assignment with a deadline. Typically, students who are most successful with online programs are self-motivated and dedicate more time to completing a web-oriented course whose syllabus or curriculum may be the same as the brick-and-mortar program.

3. Online courses are unaccredited or unaffiliated

The validity of an online program depends upon the accreditation standing of the academic institution offering the course, just like a traditional study program. Students and educators can login at the website of CHEA, which regularly publishes and updates a list of approved authorities or bodies that offer affiliations to higher education establishments.

4. Online credits are non-transferable

Unfortunately, transferring credits of an on-campus course might be just as harrowing as reassigning credits for an online program. But more often than not, the college or university receiving the application may not be in a position to determine whether the unaccredited program was pursued in a campus or completed online.

(Next page: 4 more online learning myths; infographic)

5. Interaction with instructors is non-existent

Though the nature of online learning means little-to-no in-person contact, there are opportunities to exchange views and opinions via a plethora of web-oriented modes. For instance, students can communicate teachers through emails, online chat sessions, Skype, webcasts, and podcasts. Plus, there are plenty of blended learning programs students can explore.

6. Cheating is rampant in online courses

Many educators, who have extensive experience in both online and offline teaching modes, have gone on record iterating that cheating can happen in either of the two educational approaches. Also, online instructors now have more tools than ever to use for cross-checking plagiarism.

7. Employers don’t recognize online degrees

Though some employers still screen candidates based on Ivy League degrees, more are starting to realize that real skills (via ePortfolios, badges, competencies, etc.) are more important than certificates; focusing less on how candidates get those certificates. Looking to the future, new and fast-growing industries like machine learning, software development, cyber security and even digital marketing may actually prefer an online degree to a more than a traditional one.

8. Reputed schools and universities don’t have online programs

Many of today’s students feel at ease in an online environment and use technology to support their learning. Many institutions are beginning to offer an online program as a way of responding to 21st century learning needs. Institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have already launched online courses; what’s more, many of these online courses are free. There are at least 250 Ivy League courses that students can take online at no cost.

Infographic by Cypher Learning:

8 Myths about Online Education Debunked Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.


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