Myths of Online Learning

Myth #1 – I can do assignments anytime

Actually you can log on to complete assignments anytime day or night but assignments have due dates. Deadlines and due dates keep the class cohesive and the class learning together. Online classes are structured and organized by the instructor. Check the class syllabus for the schedule of assignments and their due dates. Your written assignments and discussions are completed at your leisure (of course, within the parameters of the syllabus) from your personal computer and submitted via the Internet. So, if you want to complete an assignment at two in the afternoon (if that's when you are at your best, instead of 8 a.m. when you're not) you can!

Myth #2 – Online courses do not follow the regular semester

In reality, nearly all online courses follow the same semester calendar as on-campus courses. Attendance policies are in effect for some online courses. Payment, scheduling, policies for withdrawing and other procedures are typically the same for online courses. Assignments, textbooks, tests, papers, lectures, discussions, group projects, etc. are present in an online environment just like a traditional class. There are deadlines for these assignments just as there are in the on-campus courses. Be sure to check your syllabus for due dates.

Myth #3 – I can "hide" and remain anonymous in an online class

The truth is there are a lot of required discussions and other activities between students and instructors and among the students enrolled in the course. This allows for an opportunity to get to know one another in an open and honest way, so students really cannot remain anonymous. Since these interactions are not face-to-face, however, it allows for shy individuals to participate in a non-threatening environment.  You will have a lot of interaction with your classmates and instructor but not face-to-face as in a traditional class. You always have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics. This is generally accomplished through the use of email, discussion boards and/or chat communications.

Myth #4 – Personal attention doesn’t exist in an online class

Actually students who take an online course say there is more attention since professors log on daily and respond quickly.  “Popping” in and out of classes will create a feeling of disconnection with the class. You should start the course at the beginning with the other students and keep up with the pace and expectations. Remember you can still call your instructor on the phone. In addition, many professors have created “virtual office hours” with established prescribed times to logon and interact. Online classes create an important community of learners with expected interaction between students and the instructor.

Myth #5 – Online classes are easier

Because of the nature of online courses, they are more demanding and take more time. Extensive reading requirements and time management are required for student success in online classes. Online courses are not easier than traditional courses, just presented in a different format and still have deadlines and due dates. Try to find someone who has already taken an online class and ask them about it. Do not underestimate the time commitment, pace and demands of an online course! Plan to spend two - three hours of homework for each hour of class time per week. If your online course is a three credit hour course, you can expect to spend six - nine hours per week to participate in online discussions and complete the readings, assignments and homework.

Myth #6 – Broken computers are an acceptable excuses

With computer accessibility on the rise, students have many options available to them for a back-up plan; most online instructors will not accept the excuse that your computer was broken. A motivated and committed student can always find a computer to turn in assignments on time: college computer labs and the public library are both locations where a computer is generally available. Upfront planning and critical thinking is required in an online class, and that extends to making sure you have access to a working computer and internet connection when its time to complete your assignments.

Myth #7 – Procrastination is OK in online classes

Online learners need to be independent, motivated and self-starters since there is no one enforcing what is due when. Student must be able to set their own schedules and stick to them. Students need to be able to manage the flexibility of an online course.

Myth #8 – Online courses are just online textbooks

It's true that some online courses just provide the same materials a textbook would, but those are, more often than not, the least successful online courses on the Web. A good online course provides the complete instructional package, and is heavily committed to collaboration among students and applying knowledge to develop skills. A complete online course goes well beyond just text and pictures; it harnesses the best that the Webhas to offer. It is constantly changing, being updated, linking to new sites. It may include audio, video or animation. Students may interact through e-mail, threaded discussion, collaborative Web spaces, chat clients or in person.

Myth #9 – I will be taught how to use a computer in my online class

Do not expect your instructor to spend time teaching you how to use your computer or how to use the internet. When you sign up for an online course in a specific subject, that subject is what you should expect your instructor to focus on.  If your course requires the use of specialized software of some kind, your instructor will make sure you're taught how to use that specialized software. You should plan to learn to use your computer, how to access the internet, and all the standard online tools such as email, web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, etc, on your own. In general, you should have these skills prior to beginning your online course.

Myth #10 – I can do everything in a single online session

It is generally difficult to be successful in a course when you only log in once every week or two. First, most students learn best when they have an opportunity to learn smaller amounts of material and then have a chance to reflect on it before attempting to learn more. Additionally, many instructors require regular participation in online discussion. Not only does this discussion help students understand new concepts, in some cases grade points are awarded for regular class participation. Your grade can suffer in many ways if you only log in once every week or two.