Till recent years, distance education or distance learning is largely associated with the education of students, especially who could not make it to the regular colleges or working professionals, who take admission in any university that offer distance learning courses just to earn a degree or enhance their knowledge.
However, it’s no longer just that anymore. Today, distance learning involves online education and is known by various other terms such as e-learning, online learning, m-learning, virtual classroom, etc.
However, with the increase of online learning courses, various myths and misconceptions have cropped up from all angles giving a false impression about distance learning. Many are under the wrong impressions that online courses are not as good as regular or face-to-face courses, they don’t offer decent degree programs, that courses have zero value on the job market, and what not. Well, the way education is delivered and students learn today have changed, and all such myths are simply not true.
Whether you are a student or parent, or someone looking for a distance learning course but confused because of the several myths doing the round, this post will enlighten you and help dispel some of the most commonly held misconceptions concerning distance learning. Take a look.
1. Distance learning platform doesn’t offer decent degree program
Many people believe that online education platforms do not offer full-time degree programs. However, this is not true. You can not only earn legitimate academic background, but also earn degrees ranging from an associate’s degree to a doctorate. Yes, there are online course platforms that offer educational opportunities without a degree attached, but they focus on skilling or upskilling the students or learners. In fact, there are many online students who are solely focused on learning a new skill or improving a skill they already have.
2. Low quality or no high-quality teaching standards
Many people think quality of online courses is lower, and afraid that they won’t get the same quality as compared to traditional courses. It is easy to assume that online learning could never match with the on-campus learning experience. Yes, while there are online courses that are designed poorly, content delivered haphazardly, and organized terribly, but the same is true for traditional courses.
Many online courses, in fact, go through a design process that ensure not only that the course is well organized, but that the content is delivered in a way that conforms to best practices for online learning and learning in general. There are now many online courses, such as the ones offered by Skillshare, which are offered with a higher quality than many traditional ones.
3. All online courses are self-paced
Well, this is not true. Just because you are not physically sitting in front of your instructors doesn’t mean they aren’t there or won’t be there to guide in the learning process. While there are plenty of self-paced online education options available, many programs are structured much like an on-site school. Instructions, assignments, doubt clearance, and all whatever is being done in the physical classrooms are followed in online learning.
Just as they would in a brick and mortar class, online class instructors are responsible for engaging their students and teaching them the subject matter. However, if you are looking for self-paced online courses, there are plenty of options available.
4. No interaction with classmates or other students
Many assume that since online courses are not conducted face to face, they provide less or no interaction with their classmates or other students. However, this is not true. Peer-to-peer learning is central for many online course providers. They allow learners ample opportunities to interact, work together, and learn from each other during the course. In fact, many online courses require regular peer interactions multiple times for certain group projects. Students can interact with other classmates/students using online collaborative tools such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
5. Online instructors are not real teachers/professors
While there are certain tech companies that are working to transform teaching job by replacing the human teacher with machines, we haven’t reached there yet. So far, all online lessons are taught by a human teacher. In fact, universities and edtech companies that offer online distance learning programs don’t pick just anyone to teach their students; many of the lectures and lessons are taught by renowned professors or educators in their field.
6. Online courses are simple and easier than on-campus courses
It is widely assumed among many that distance learning programs and online courses are stupid-simple, easier than face-to-face courses, and anyone can succeed without any difficulty. People also believe that such courses are specifically designed to be impossibly difficult to make them appear to have the same competitive vigour as the traditional courses. However, they are not true. These courses are just as demanding, and in some ways more demanding, than many face-to-face courses.
In fact, distance learning courses require the same amount of work and effort as traditional courses. Instructors carry out all tasks and assign the same amount of work as they would in regular courses. Students don’t lose out on any content and enjoy just as many opportunities to learn, sometimes in more interesting ways, as they would in face-to-face courses.
7. Distance learning courses don’t help students in their career goals
This is simply not true. Online or distance learning courses are perhaps the most convenient and effective way to learn new job skills and enhance their career goals. Most online course providers offer their programs with so much flexibility, offering a perfect match for anyone with a busy schedule. In fact, seeing the traditional educational system no longer works for students to fit in the 21st century job market, most distance learning course providers focused on job-oriented courses, helping them build the skill as per industry needs.
If doesn’t matter which industry you work for or want to work in, you can always find an online course that would benefit or enhance your day-to-day work performance. If you are too busy, there are plenty of online learning platforms that offer completely self-paced experiences.
8. Have to be tech-savvy to take online courses
While it’s true that one needs some basic technology know-how, such as how to connect the internet or navigate a browser, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to take online courses. Most online learning platforms require very little computer knowledge, as many tools and programs you will be working with are simple and have familiar aspects. Many platforms offer various tutorials and links to help those who have any questions or run into any problems.
9. You can’t build a network
Many are of the opinion that distance learning or online class limits building relationships with friends and other people. While it is true that many people rely on college networks to land jobs and learn about opportunities, the belief that online learning can’t help build a network is not true. While building that kind of networks might seem hard at first in an online space, it is not an impossible thing to do. As many instructors are leaders and celebrities in their own field, maintaining an engaged and supportive alumni community can help build a fantastic network.
10. Online courses have zero value in the job market
One of the biggest misconceptions about online learning is that employers don’t value online degrees or online courses have zero value in the job market. This is simply not true. While it is true that there are several non-accredited online degree programs that are not widely regarded on the job market, these are exceptions to the rule. Contrary to the myth, distance learning programs and associated skills attained are highly valued in the job market. They have, in fact, given students highly-skilled training in the career of their choice.
For many, when they think about education, they still only see the traditional classroom setting – complete with a blackboard, benches, desks, chair, table, pen, textbooks, notebooks, and a host of students. While that’s how learning has been for decades, things have changed. Now, taking courses and learning online can be just as rewarding and educational as traditional and face-to-face classes, with the added benefit of taking them on your own schedule.