5 Myths About Online Courses Debunked

By Alicia Geigel on December 7, 2018

With the fall semester coming to an end and the spring semester approaching quickly, you probably are trying to decide what classes to take for the next semester. Usually around this time of year, students look through a course list and try to put together a class schedule that reflects both their interests and includes the necessary course fulfillments. Trying to blend all of these interests while also trying to figure out major obligations, especially on a deadline, can be a breeze for some and a nightmare for others. Piecing together a schedule of courses all while taking into consideration day of the week, time, location, etc. makes choosing courses even more of a hassle. However, one convenient option when choosing courses is opting for online courses, which not only eliminates the stress of putting together a schedule that doesn’t overlap, but it also gives you better control over how you spend your time.

Taking online classes is completely different than the classic, classroom method of learning. As someone who took online classes all throughout college, I can attest to this as I’m sure you can too! Online courses not only can give you the opportunity to efficiently balance your classes and time, but they can also give you more freedom to engage in other activities outside of class like work, sports, etc.

Because online classes are different than traditional classroom methods, there are a lot of myths that can get circulated around about the difficulty of online classes, the quality, the teachers, etc. Are you currently a student interested in taking online classes? Have certain myths and ideas about online classes discouraged you from wanting to take them? Be sure to read these top five myths about online classes so you not only can gain a better understanding of online courses, but you can also put those myths to rest!

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1. Online Courses are Easy: One of the common myths that people assume about online classes is that they are easy by nature. This is a complete myth! Online courses have the same curriculum as any course taken in a classroom, the teaching method is all that is different- and by that I mean, it’s merely taught online.

In fact, online courses can sometimes pose more of a difficulty than traditional classroom teaching because students have more responsibility, says Lynn Atanasoff, a career counselor at Penn State University. “At reputable institutions, students have to complete the same material as in-person, except they also have to really manage their time because online no one is reminding them when assignments or projects are due,” she says.

2. The Quality of Education is Lower: Just because the course is online, does not mean that the quality of education is lower. The course itself has undergone some sort of process or evaluation by your university to ensure it meets specific standards and adheres to the set curriculum of the course. Online courses and instructors do not just get made up out of the blue and put onto your registration choice list, there’s a process.

Jeff Davidson, a strategic initiatives manager of the Free Education Initiative at the Saylor Foundation comments, “I don’t think there’s any weight to the belief that quality suffers in online education any more so than with a lot of brick-and-mortars. We know brick-and-mortar degrees vary in quality, and that’s the same with online.”

3. Zero Interaction with Instructors or Classmates: Another assumption about online classes is that because it’s completely virtual, there is zero interaction with your instructors or classmates. While in some cases there isn’t a physical interaction like in a traditional classroom, teachers and students are available through other outlets like phone, email, etc. Teachers are even sometimes more available through online avenues than other ways!

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4. Teaching Yourself Material: Because the teaching method is different, another myth is that you have to teach yourself the material of the course. This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of education being lower and zero interaction with instructors.

This myth isn’t true at all! Online courses are no different than traditional ones, where there are assignments, quizzes, readings, projects, etc. The teacher creates outlines and presentations to help just as much as a teacher in-classroom would. From my experience, I’ve had some traditional classroom courses that I’ve had to teach myself more than any online course I’ve taken!

5. Cheating is Common: It’s obvious to think that because online courses are all on the internet, that it’s almost a given that students will cheat and automatically get away with it. This is not the case! It is no easier to cheat on online courses than in a traditional course. In fact, it can be a little bit harder! Teachers typically have a plagiarism section software to see whether or not a student has cheated on an essay assignment.

Additionally, Terri Williams of U.S. News writes, “In addition to plagiarism detection software, some online programs require students to take a test at a physical location, or to use a webcam while completing an exam. In both cases, students need to show proof of identification.”

Though online courses can mistakenly be viewed as easy or not engaging, they are quite the opposite! Always remember that taking courses online does not make you any less of a student or whatever criticism you may have heard before. Everyone has different wants and needs, and online courses can be a great option to balance your classes and college life!

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