Wed, 23 Jan, 2013
For this weeks blog post, I'd like to dispel some of the biggest myths that are out there regarding online education. Distance education actually traces its roots back to the mid-1800s when correspondence courses were used to help educate disperse groups of people throughout the country. However, the invention of the Internet led to a rapid influx of online learning at the higher education level.
As popular as online education is today, there are still many myths that are floating around society that need to be disproven. Here are my "Top 5 Myths of Online Education" and the truth about each one:
Myth #1: The curriculum is less robust in online education. This thought, to put it bluntly, is just plain wrong. The syllabus for an online class is the same as the syllabus for that same class in a traditional setting. Here in the Distance Ed. Department at Campbell, we are committed to making sure that our online classes meet the requirements for being a quality class and that our instructors are DECIDE Quality Certified. The main difference between an online class and a traditional one is how the content is delivered...not that one is easier or more difficult than the other.
Myth #2: Technology is too unreliable for online education. Many people that I have come into contact with are fearful of technology. Most of these people are from a different generation that did not grow up around technology (or so they think). However, the only technology that is needed for online education is an Internet connection and a computer. The online education community has not been allowed itself to be ensnared by the use of software or expensive computer programs that could cause problems for their students and/or teachers. It's as simple as getting online, engaging in the content, and completing your assignments.
Myth #3: Online education does not lend itself to collaboration. Au contraire! Online education very much lends itself to collaboration of students between their peers as well as their instructor. At Campbell, we use Blackboard for our online classes and Blackboard incorporates discussion boards for students to share their thoughts about different topics discussed in the class. It also contains a component for blogging and even has virtual classrooms and chatting capabilities. Collaboration is one of the buzz words right now in the education field, but you will not find a lack of tools to promote collaboration in online education classes.
Myth #4: Students will not finish assignments without having a teacher standing over them. Students who are not self-motivated will fail whether they have a teacher standing over them or not. Taking a class online does not require a student to work at a specific time of the day, but it does give guidelines and specific due dates just like a traditional class. The real question for students who fail at an online class is whether or not they are motivated enough to get their work done and work on it as their week progresses. Instead, some students will wait to the last minute to complete work, but that really isn't any different than college students in traditional classes. Ultimately, it is up to the learner to take ownership of their own education experience.
Myth #5: Online education is too impersonal. Online education has gotten a bad reputation for being too impersonal in the learning environment. This just isn't the case. As I discussed before, online education lends itself to loads of collaboration, which helps to make learning exciting and useful. Instructors of online classes routinely use Skype to give lectures or mini lessons on selected topics. At Campbell, instructors use Tegrity so that students can view lectures, PowerPoints, and other media all at the same time. These capabilities make eLearning anything but impersonal and new content is being added everyday. As you can see, there is lots of misinformation when it comes to the field of online education. I have personally taken part in online education and find it to be a breath of fresh air when it comes to the field of higher education as a whole. I hope that you find that I have debunked these 5 particular myths and that you will continue to educate yourself about online education and distance education in general. Please continue to check our blog for more information on this and other topics!
Instructional Design & Training Coordinator
Campbell University Online