Nicely done article on online learning myths. Admittedly, the author of the article, John Ebersole is a proponent of online learning per his page bio, but he correctly explains the viewpoint that all of us at ASU Online believe; namely that online education done well can improve the lives of people who may not have the opportunity, flexibility, or desire to obtain a full-time campus based degree program.
Myth #1: Online learning will reduce the need for faculty. Nothing could be further from the truth. From surveys and interviews, we have come to know that the number one reason for student success, in a classroom or online, is a caring instructor. Also, online institutions are much more strict about limiting class size than traditional schools, usually setting a maximum of 20 to 25 per section. Thus, there is the need for more, not fewer, qualified instructors. Faculty are also in demand to build new courses, revise old ones, and create the learning assessments for which there is growing need. Not surprisingly, a recent Inside HigherEd/Babson survey reveals that faculty at institutions with more extensive online offerings are more positive about online learning than those who have little or no such involvement.
- Myth # 2: All online courses are the same. Again, not true. Those institutions with restricted budgets may use formats that are little more than text-heavy electronic correspondence courses. However, on the other end of the spectrum are courses that rival a Hollywood production in
their use of color, graphics, animation and simulations. Capstone assessments can test a student’s ability to apply concepts and make decisions based on their learning. These are not cheap, but they are engaging, effective, and growing in use.
- Myth # 3: The quality of outcomes is less for an online student than for one who has received the same instruction in a classroom. Research over many decades has shown that the outcomes for those studying at a distance do not differ from those in a classroom. As much as our egos might wish otherwise, students don’t have to sit at our feet to learn. In fact, there has been such consistency of finding in this regard that the phrase “no significant difference” has become the expected hypothesis in making comparisons.
- Myth # 4: “Online” instruction is synonymous with “for profit” institutions. While it is true that many proprietary colleges and universities use online methods to deliver instruction, not all do. It is equally the case that a majority of nonprofit academic institutions are also delivering instruction online, including entire degrees. This myth has been perpetuated, undoubtedly, by
the much greater publicity and advertising conducted by for-profit institutions.
- Myth #5: Credentials earned online are not accepted by employers. Over the past several years, Excelsior College and the Zogby organization have conducted nationwide surveys of employers and hiring officials to determine their perceptions of online certificates and degrees. The results of the survey in 2011 revealed that nearly two-thirds of those familiar with online education believe that a degree earned online is a credible as one earned through a traditional campus-based program. Respondents stated the most important factors in determining the credibility of an online degree were
the accreditation of the institution awarding the degree and the quality of its graduates.
- Myth #6: You don’t know if the person doing the work is the person receiving the credit. As pointed out by WCET, a partner to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher
Education, student authentication is a complex and frequently misrepresented issue and one that is not unique to online education providers.