Berkeley College Online® has provided a global population of students with teaching and learning experiences online for nearly 20 years, and was one of the first higher education programs worldwide to be certified by the United States Distance Learning Association. So, what do we know about online learning? A lot.

And while academic online programs continue to evolve, with Berkeley College applying additional quality measures to ensure excellence in its own online curriculum, many students and higher education professionals continue to misunderstand the benefits and realities of online learning.

In honor of National Distance Learning Week, Joseph Scuralli, DPS, dean, Online, Berkeley College, shares the three biggest misconceptions still often associated with online learning:

Online Learning Misconception #1 – The online learning experience is less rich than onsite learning.

While onsite courses meet a certain number of times per week in a standard location, online courses are not limited to overhead projectors and white boards.

With the help of instructional designers who are experienced in using educational technology to deliver optimal learning experiences, online instructors provide instructional materials in ways that address the needs of all types of learners. Videos, presentations, lectures, and assessment activities are carefully selected and placed in online courses to ensure learners meet all learning objectives. Electronic resources such as eTextbooks enable linking to external resources to provide additional depth to various topics.

In the course HEA 3350, “Long Term and Residential Care,” for example, students on track to receive an Bachelor’s degree in Health Services Management are able to explore long term and residential care services, as well as financing options, through exposure to a panel discussion and Q&A session with members of the Green House Project and Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. The Green House Project is a non-profit organization that is creating alternative living environments to traditional nursing home care facilities. Other assisted living and elder care facilities are explored through the use of company websites and online discussions. Students also learn by viewing a video of a retired professor of broadcast communications at Oregon State University, who shares his experience in an assisted living facility.

Online learners have the ability to use electronic libraries at their fingertips to research extended topics of interest and are often encouraged to share additional resources with classmates.  These resources may be retained by the instructor and incorporated in future courses, further enriching the experiences of the future learners.

(Next page: 2 more online learning misconceptions)

About the Author:

Joseph Scuralli, DPS, dean, Online, Berkeley College.