Holding a graduation event exclusively for online students sounds unusual, perhaps even a contradiction. But over the years at InterActive we’ve become accustomed to looking at some at the most diffused misconceptions about online learning as a challenge–quality of the teaching, support for students, participation—and defying them with what we do.
From July 13th to 15th July, we hosted our third annual Graduation & Networking event, welcoming more than 105 students to Prague. Over these three days graduates, students, and tutors got together to celebrate the successful completion of studies that have been carried on from every corner of the world.
Before this event, tutors had never met the learners in person, and students had not once shared the same physical space of a traditional classroom. What we have seen and experienced, this year and the ones before, is that this makes little to no difference for our students and staff.
The Greatest Misconception
One of the greatest misconceptions regarding online learning is the idea that those who choose this option are after a certificate or qualification, looking for an easier and cheaper way to seize it. Our conviction, further reinforced by increasing participation in the ceremony, is that if that’s the case graduates wouldn’t be travelling from as far as Qatar, Mexico, and The Philippines–some with their families–just to be there. They wouldn’t commit to the time and cost of long trips, not after having studied for years from the comfort of their own house, if they didn’t feel they belong to something that truly matters to them.
E-learning didn’t take a good learning experience from them, but instead changed their perception of furthering their studies in a different way. Distance learners are not second-rate students, and where online learning appears to create a distance between them and the provider, it actually offers a wide range of solutions to make sure they always feel close to the institution.
Much like traditional providers and universities, online learning provides support and engagement, creating a sense of community that erases distances and physical boundaries while enhancing the study experience.
(Next page: Engaging Online Learning Alumni with Success)