7 Myths in the Online Classroom

7 Student Myths of the Online Classroom
Photo credit: Lincolnian (Brian) via Photopin / CC

Online learning, or distance learning, or eLearning (or even e-learning) has been around now in various guises for quite some time.

This article from eLearn Magazine “7 Student Myths of the Online Classroom” highlights some of the more popular myths surrounding the student’s perspective of online learning. Please read the full article using the link above as the below is only my interpretation of them:

  1. I can log into the class any time I want.

Yes, you can, but obviously the materials, resources, activities are (or rather should be) designed to encourage interaction, collaboration, and engagement with your fellow students. While you may not be scheduled to be online at 8PM every Thursday evening (remember any differences in time-zones) it is likely you ought to try and work out when others will be online so you can coordinate responses and make the most of your time together.

  1. Instructors are available 24/7.

Don’t be silly. No one person, while at work, is available 24/7 (and if you are please stop it!). Even if the customer service of your supermarket or bank is available 24/7 you can be sure that it is staffed by a rotating shift pattern to rest the individual. We live in an always-connected world but we still need to disconnect and do something else. Online/distance learners do need support and guidance and, if their study pattern is in the evening and at weekend ‘should’ the Institution put something in place to support them during those hours? Discuss … !

  1. Online class is just like texting or emailing.

Really? I would rather see the students own writing style than have them try and produce something that is not natural to them. I don’t want to see bad spelling or grammar I’ll admit, but is a discussion post the same as a written assignment? Even if it’s assessed, the student should be comfortable in producing a post according to their own style.

  1. I’m too busy to take an on-campus class, so I’ll take an online class. Online requires less time and less work.

Flexibility is often what is used to sell an online course, and is a very important facet for learning in the modern economic climate … “Earn While You Learn” as I call it. Any student who believes it’ll be easier has not spent much time investigating the course, or the course has not been properly signposted. I’m not saying the marketing blurb should cover the doom-and-gloom long hours or reading and the such, but it should highlight, or the student should be aware, that online/distance learning is not for everyone. The student will need a good deal of self-discipline and motivation to continue to read, write, discuss, engage, etc. even when they’re not feeling well or think their time is needed elsewhere (family, TV, etc.).

  1. My instructor can help me with any computer problems I have.

I doubt this. The Instructor should know the profile for the student they are hoping to get on the course and therefore design the course and the materials and activities accordingly to suit the technical competencies of the learner. If you think the students will not be particularly computer literate then don’t provide your materials in difficult or complex ways that require specialist software to be installed and maintained. Don’t make it hard for the student to engage with you or your materials.

  1. I am the only older/younger/freshman/senior/international/working/unsavvy tech/etc. student in class.

Hopefully the course, materials, reading list, online environment, etc. is introduced to you in an appropriate manner and sensitively by way of induction materials and activities. This will help you increase your understanding and comfort of the tools you will use as an online/distance learner, no matter the level of expertise you may or may not have prior.

  1. Online faculty are not as qualified as on-campus faculty.

I would hope this is not the case, I can’t speak for other Institutions, but the people I have worked with in the last 6 years or so are extremely professional, extremely competent, and extremely proud of the work they do to generate and support online and distance learning. Developing and supporting an online course often takes up more time and resources than many people think, and I know just how hard these people work (often in their own time).

Do you agree with the above or have anything to add? Please leave your comments below.