Distance learning isn’t a new practice. According to Susan Imel in the publication “Distance Learning Myths and Realities” for the Ohio State University College of Education, correspondence or distance-learning courses have existed for over 100 years. The Internet has helped facilitate and increase awareness about this form of instruction, and Imel states that online education effectively supports cognitive-based learning theories despite some unfounded claims.
Fallacy: Online Education is Simpler
When you complete classes online, you must have better time management skills and focus than a traditional student. Because you aren't obligated to meet attendance requirements, you must have the discipline to keep up with the new lessons and information provided online. Because you may not have face-to-face contact with your professors or peers when you take an online class, it may take you longer to understand difficult concepts. Just as some traditional classes have accompanying labs, online classes may require you to participate in a virtual lab; instead of seeing specimens in person for a traditional science lab, you may have access to images of specimens for an online lab.
Fallacy: Online Credits Don’t Transfer
If you participate in online classes from an accredited university, the credits that you earn online should transfer in the same manner as credits earned from a traditional academic institution. However, not all online schools are accredited. To verify that an online institution is accredited, check with a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Distance Education and Training Council, Accrediting Commission also accredits schools that offer distance learning programs.
Fallacy: Employers Don’t Accept Online Education Degrees
Like a transcript, when you receive a diploma from an accredited university, it generally won’t state that you completed your studies online. According to a Jacksonville State University online article, “Debunking Common Myths about Online Classes at JSU,” college transcripts do not indicate the format in which you took a class. Additionally, in the Forbes magazine article, “The Myths of Online Learning,” John Ebersole shares that over 60 percent of employers think that an online education is as legitimate as one obtained in a traditional classroom setting. Regarding employer tuition reimbursement programs, companies view all accredited colleges in the same light, regardless of the delivery method.
Fallacy: Only For-Profit Institutions Offer Online Education
With the ability to extend their reach and accommodate the busy schedules of students on campus, many nonprofit colleges and universities, including state schools and community colleges, offer online classes, such as the University of Colorado. In addition to offering online classes, some nonprofit educational institutions also offer online degree and certification programs.
Fallacy: Online Education Reduces the Need for Professors
The instructors of online classes must have the same qualifications as those who teach in college and university classrooms. In his article “Challenging the Myths about Distance Learning,” in the magazine Distance Learning Today, Robert Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University, states that teaching online actually creates more work for a professor, because the students expect a higher level of interaction than traditional students. Because of this, many colleges limit the number of students in a virtual classroom.
- Ohio State University College of Education: Distance Learning Myths and Realities
- Distance Learning Today: Challenging the Myths about Distance Learning
- Forbes: The Myths of Online Learning
- Jacksonville State University: Debunking Common Myths about Online Classes at JSU
- U.S. Department of Education: Accreditation in the United States
- University of Colorado: CU Online
Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.