More Myths About Online Education, Debunked

In the U.S., there are 5.8 million college students currently enrolled in an online course. That’s more than a quarter of all students currently enrolled in college according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Despite the continuing prevalence of online education, stigma and misinformation run rampant.

The simple fact is, non-traditional forms of education have become the new normal for higher ed in the U.S. As an increasingly viable option for the average student, it’s time once and for all to continue busting the myths surrounding online education. We’ve already debunked some of the most common misconceptions, and here are six more you can erase from your mind for good:

“Online degrees are easy.”

It’s often thought that degrees earned online allow students to slack off because they don’t require the same rigor as in-person courses. The reality is that online courses are often adapted from the same syllabi as in-person courses, and are taught by the same professors. In fact, obtaining a degree online requires an additional level of discipline, time-management and self-motivation to keep on top of deadlines. According to the Sloan Online Learning Consortium, 77 percent of academic leaders said learning results in online courses were equal or superior to traditional classes. ASU alumna and registered nurse Sandy Marques holds four degrees from various institutions and multiple nursing and teaching certifications. As she puts it, “I worked harder for my BSN degree through ASU Online and then my Master’s degree than I did for anything else.”… Busted.

“Online credits are non-transferrable.”

We know transferring credits can sometimes be tough. However, the institution receiving the application often has no visibility into whether credits were taken online or in person. Credits earned at an accredited university or community college will be considered as such.  If a student plans to transfer schools, those earned online and those earned in-person will have equal weight… Busted.

“Cheating is rampant in online programs.”

You may think taking classes remotely opens the door for more academic dishonesty. Many educators are experienced in detecting cheating in both online and on-ground classes, and many agree that cheating is no more likely in online classrooms than in lecture halls. And now, technology is giving professors cutting-edge ways to cut down on cheating. Through the use of webcam technology, professors can now proctor exams remotely, and when it comes to papers, plagiarism detection software is better than ever. Some universities have even implemented keystroke technology as a way to certify online students’ identities… Busted.

“Reputable universities don’t have online programs.”

Online degree programs have been historically thought of as “lesser-than.” But the tides have long since changed. Innovative technologies are bringing online education into the 21st century, so much that there are now 250 Ivy League classes that anyone can take online at no cost. When it comes to earning a degree, many universities do not even distinguish degrees earned online from those earned on campus. ASU alumna Devon Probal, who works for US Pacific Command, says her degree, which she earned through ASU Online while living in Australia, was well-respected by her employer. “When I was hired at USPACOM, they looked at my resume and were impressed that I went to ASU.”… Busted.

“Online degrees are not engaging.”

Potential students often voice the concern that they will be unable to interact with their professors and classmates in an online program, and worry they cannot handle working alone. The good news—they don’t have to. Online programs offer a variety of ways to stay engaged even when remote. At ASU, group work is common for online courses, which requires students to connect and collaborate outside of the online classroom. Similarly, features like discussion boards, email, chat rooms and live-streamed lectures allow for ample interaction between students and professors… Busted.

“Good professors don’t want to teach online.”

There’s the pervasive idea that online classes are taught by professors with little experience or that are not affiliated with a university. In reality, online courses are likely to be taught by tenured or tenure-track professors, and these professors often adapt their online courses from their in-person class syllabi. Eighty-five percent of professors who have taught a course online say it actually takes more time and effort to prepare for an online course than a traditional course... Busted.

If these busted myths have piqued your interest in online education, check out ASU Online’s Newsroom to learn more about the benefits of online education, Sun Devil Life stories and online learning tips.

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