Let’s take a look at common myths and misconceptions regarding online courses. If you are considering taking an online course based on any of the assumptions below, you may find yourself in a difficult situation.
Common Myths and Misconceptions:
- Online Courses are easier than face-to-face courses
Online courses are often more demanding and take more time than traditional face-to-face courses.
Since the majority of the content and interaction in an online course is done through the written word, students must actively interact with the content delivered to them, be able to effectively communicate in writing with their instructor and their peers, and have superb time management skills. In an online course, students are responsible for their own learning and for keeping on task. So, while the content delivered and the learning outcomes of an online course section may be identical to its face-to-face counterpart, the method of delivery often adds an additional level of difficulty that an unprepared student may find problematic.
- There are no due dates in online courses
Although there is the flexibility of logging in at your convenience, online courses are not self-paced. The requirements of each course is different, but most will require you to logon several times per week and participate in course activities according to a set course schedule that indicates when assignments are due. It is very important to understand what is due when and to check in frequently to your course to see any announcements posted by your instructor.
- I can complete all of my work for a module in a single online session
In the vast majority of online courses, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most online courses require students to log on multiple times per week to participate in discussions, check course messages and announcements and complete online activities. In addition, students are typically required to complete a portion of their work offline and then submit it online. There may be different due dates for different assignments, discussions and quizzes, and the successful online student learns early on that logging on regularly to the course is one of the keys to doing well.
- Since the class doesn’t meet face-to-face, I can remain anonymous and don’t have to participate
This is not the case in most online courses. Online discussion and other activities requiring instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction are frequently a significant portion of an online course. Since these interactions do not occur in a “real-time” environment such as a face-to-face classroom, students have the time to reflect on their thoughts prior to posting their questions or answers. So while it most likely isn’t entirely possible to not participate and remain anonymous, there is a benefit to participating in an online environment, particularly for those whom may not be inclined to participate in the “live” interaction setting of a face-to-face class.
- My instructor will teach me all of the computer skills I need in order to take this course
The instructor in an online course is the content expert who delivers material and interacts with students to assist them in achieving the defined learning outcomes for the course. While the typical online instructor does have a great deal of technical expertise in the Learning Management System used to deliver the course, it is not reasonable to expect that they will spend time teaching you how to use your computer or how to perform the basic computer skills that are necessary for students to succeed in an online environment. An online student should have these skills prior to beginning an online course.
- Online course discussions should be easy for me because I frequently participate in online chat rooms and text people all the time
A discussion forum is a formal written exercise that requires students to think about the topic and answer in a clear, concise, and thoughtful manner. It is important to review your instructor’s rules and requirements for discussions as most do not allow any form of the shorthand text or chat speak that would typically occur in instant messaging or texting. Discussions are usually graded and, as such, should be treated as more of a short essay, using rules of proper grammar and spelling. Prior to posting to a discussion it is extremely important that you review your work so that your posting portrays you in the most positive light.
- As long as I log in, I am considered as “attending” for that day in my online course
Logging in alone typically does not count as attendance in an online class. Many instructors use participation in discussion, submission of an assignment or quiz or other meaningful content-related contribution on the part of the student to measure attendance. It is important to read the course information provided by your instructor to find out what the attendance requirements are for your particular course and ask if you are unsure.