14 Sep Debunking the Myths of Online Learning

debunking the myths of online learningOnline education and distance learning sometime gets a bad rap. It’s understandable that people feel hesitant when they hear the phrase “online university.” But this skepticism often comes from misconceptions about what online classrooms look like on the inside, wariness of new technology, or simply a fear of change. I’d like to go through and debunk some of the common misunderstandings that we come across as online educators, as well as pros that differentiate online schools from brick-and-mortar institutions.

Flexibility

Distance learning allows students to maintain their lifestyles and keep their full-time jobs while still working towards a rigorous degree. Our students don’t have to drive to campus or move to another state. Most online programs allow students to choose when and where they study, and at what pace. Students can access video archives of live lectures and don’t have to fret if their plans change—they can catch up on missed lectures online.

It’s not uncommon for our military students might begin their studies in LA, and then next log in from Afghanistan. One student watched a lecture from her son’s baseball game. Other students join in from the beach or a family ski trip. Imagine studying with a view of the ocean. Imagine a classroom with walls of your choice. You choose your learning environment.

Diversity

A large percentage of online learners are approaching higher education after a long time away from the classroom. They may have decided to return to school after many years, diving headfirst into the workforce out of high school or college, to further their education or advance in or switch careers. Now that they’ve settled into a particular lifestyle or have a family to care for, picking up and moving to a new city for school doesn’t fit. But you don’t have to move to a college campus across the country to pursue higher education!

We are proud that our students come from all over the globe and lead diverse lives. Online schools also tend to draw an international crowd, which broadens viewpoints and deepens to our vibrant community.

We love that our students are considered “non-traditional.” They’re the ones who bring real-world experiences to our virtual classroom, adding value and depth to our discussions. We hope to be the answer to the worry that so many adult learners have: do I belong in the classroom? We want to answer you now with a resounding, Yes!

More one-on-one attention

One misconception about online classrooms is that they are impersonal. But we don’t forgo connections with students just because we can’t shake hands. Some students say that their connections are even stronger in their online classrooms than with teachers they’d had in the past in large lecture halls. It’s hard to have and maintain a one-on-one interaction with a professor who teaches three different classes of one-hundred-twenty students. Questions often go unasked because it seems an impossible gap to cross. In a large lecture hall, a shy student might refrain from raising their hand.

But imagine a classroom in which your instructor answers your individual questions without raising your hand or speaking in front of the whole class. A student can Private Message an instructor during a lecture, and the instructor may answer the question immediately for the whole class – instant gratification. If a student misses a live lecture and views the recording later, they can email the professor their questions instead, and expect a thoughtful response within twenty-fours.

This increased interaction between teacher and student, which the online model invites, means an expanded understanding of what kind of learner each student is, so an instructor’s pedagogy can evolve and shift based on the needs of the students.

Camaraderie between students can also be just as fulfilling online. To many, an online environment feels safe. The intimidation and performance factor of the traditional campus is stripped away. From the comfort of home (or whatever exotic locale one is logging on from), students are more likely to speak freely and be themselves. Virtual chat rooms tend to be very expressive; individuals show a lot of character, get to know one another, and form friendships. Introverts can listen in without feeling pressured, but often end up feeling confident enough to engage.

In online classrooms, despite rumor to the contrary, the default is individualized attention. It might take some getting used to, but our platform is welcoming

Affordability

So many students at traditional schools have suffocating student loans that follow them for decades after graduation. But you don’t have to go into debt to earn your degree.

Because there’s no overhead for a well-manicured brick-and-mortar campus, online schools can keep their tuition low. We want our students to graduate debt-free. The average tuition at a traditional school is $85,000. The average tuition at an online school is $30,000. The pressure that relieves for our students is enormous, allowing them to focus on their studies without the fear of that financial burden.

Every teacher’s wish is for education to be accessible. We believe that the online model is a step in the right direction.