“Online learning can be a lifeline to those who have obstacles, such as geographical distances or physical disabilities.” – Paul Levinson
“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing as an add-on, an afterthought, on an event.” – Heidi Hayes Jacobs
“When I wanted to learn something outside of school as a kid, cracking open my World Book encyclopaedia was the best I could do. Today, all you have to do is go on-line.” – Bill Gates
Learning online is becoming our reality each day. Online education became especially popular after the COVID pandemic, which broke out in early 2020 and continued for almost two years. In fact, online learning was no longer a matter of choice, but a necessity: in a situation where, physical contact was potentially dangerous, distance learning became educators’ preferred choice.
Now that pandemic is over people, face-to-face education is making a comeback. However, online education is not going anywhere. It is here to stay. Since online education is a recent phenomenon, there have been many falsehoods and misconceptions about it. According to these misconceptions, online learning is not as beneficial as face-to-face learning. Obviously, this is not true. In this article, we are going to look at the most common misconceptions about online learning. We will look at them carefully and tell you the truth.
So, what are the most common myths about online learning?
Myth 1. When learning online you will not be interacting with your classmates.
Wrong. We all know that technology brings people together. Thanks to technology such as Skype and FaceTime we can speak to our friends, living in other countries. In fact, technology will help you to speak with anybody and anywhere. So, if the same technology is used in online learning, why is communication between classmates impossible?
Some people may ask – but how is genuine communication possible if everyone is sitting at home? Well, the answer is simple. You will be interacting with your classmates in special chat rooms. You will also be communicating with your classmates while working on group assignments and projects. It is important to remember that online communication can be less casual. That means that your teacher will expect you to provide more thoughtful and meaningful answers.
Myth 2. Online courses are easy and way less challenging than traditional courses.
Well, very often, reality turns out to be different. Online courses tend to be as rigorous as traditional courses. Sometimes they can be even more difficult.
So, if you have signed up for an online course, then you should expect the same content and level of learning – but they will be presented in a unique way. Very often students learning online must do a lot of reading and writing. While in traditional classrooms it is possible that you do not get a chance to speak, in the online setting everyone gets a chance to speak and to be heard.
Sometimes online courses can be so challenging that not all students succeed in them. That is why it is important to be ready for learning online. It is important to realize that you will have to work as hard as you did in a traditional classroom.
Myth 3. While learning online, students have to teach themselves.
Although online learning implies a certain degree of freedom, it would be wrong to believe that students receive and do assignments without being properly explained what to do. During online classes, your teacher’s instructions will be as detailed as those that you receive during face-to-face classes. If there is something that you are struggling to understand, you will always be able to ask a question. You will be able to do that by sending your teacher a text or an email. You can also set up an appointment via video with your teacher if you need to.
Myth 4. Employers tend to regard online courses with suspicion and disrespect.
Wrong. The task of every hiring manager is to make sure that the hired person possesses all the needed qualification and experiences for the job. Most hiring managers do not really see any difference between face-to-face or online instruction.
All you need to do is to demonstrate to them that you really have the skills and knowledge they need from you. That is, it. Considering that not online education has gone online, but many careers have done so as well – skills that you will acquire because of online learning will come in handy.
For example, communicating online, setting up online meetings, and taking part in online conferences – all these skills will be highly valued by your future employers.
Myth 5. It is impossible to stay focused during online classes and that is why they are useless.
Of course, if you have never had any experience with online learning, then it may indeed seem that learning from home can be more distracting than sitting in the classroom. Especially if you have noisy neighbours or your parents like to watch TV. Or you have a dog barking outside.
The truth is that these distractions are perfectly avoidable. All you need to do is to make sure that you are able to find a quiet place where you can focus on your class. You can also make sure that you are fully prepared for your class – the way you are prepared for your face-to-face class. Following these two simple pieces of advice will help you avoid distractions and make the most of your online experience.
Myth 6. If need to be on good terms with technology, otherwise your online learning experience will be bad.
The truth is that you do not need to be tech-savvy when learning online. All you need to know is how the Internet and computer work – and most people know how these two things work for sure. Those people who have been reluctant to familiarize technology, have had to do so because of the COVID pandemic. So, it is extremely hard to find someone who would be completely unaware of how technology works.
Myth 7. When engaging in online learners, students are tempted to cheat and most of them do. That is why learning online is not ideal.
It is understandable why many people may think this way. Your teacher is not standing over your shoulder and thus indeed this may create an impression that you can get away with cheating. The truth is that most teachers have embraced online learning to such an extent that they have produced many ways of making sure that cheating is less likely in their classroom. Or impossible altogether.
Creators of online courses are also designing online materials in a way that makes it impossible for students to cheat. So, rest assured that when learning online it will be difficult for anyone to undermine the course’s integrity. And let us be adults – we learn for our own benefit and not for good marks. So, if we remember that and treat education as something that we need – then cheating will be unnecessary.
Myth 8. Teachers are difficult to reach and have a word with when you are learning online.
Indeed, not being able to talk to your teacher when you need to can be frustrating. It can also negatively impact the educational process and undermine your motivation to study. Staying in touch with your teacher while taking online courses is vitally important and your teacher understands that.
Your teacher will make every effort to make sure that you are able to reach them whenever such a need arises. Teachers usually offer many ways of communication to their students, which include – forums, app messengers and email.
In this short and informative article, we have reviewed the most common and widespread misconceptions about online learning. As you can see, online learning is something that we all need to embrace and deal with. And with the right approach and attitude, learning online can be as beneficial as face-to-face learning. Despite the existing misconceptions and falsehoods.
So, make sure you are fully prepared for your online class and that you have a quiet place where you can study undisturbed. If you want to learn more about online education – check out our recent articles on our Shiminly blog!
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.