Is Online Learning Right for You?

Nine Myths About Online Learning

Myth 1 - Online courses are easy credits.

Fact: No. Online courses have the same rigor and expectations as face-to-face courses. They allow flexibility and convenience but online courses have definite time frames, deadlines and due dates for accomplishing assigned reading, writing, participating in discussions and other activities. Expectations for an eight week 3 credit hour course are that you will put in 15-20 hours of work per week.

Myth 2 - I can take as long as I want to complete my online course.

Fact: No. Like classroom-based courses, online courses have definite time frame for the entire class and for specific assigned readings, writings, participating in discussions and other activities. Deadlines and due dates keep any course progressing and on track.

Myth 3 - Broken computers are great excuses.

Fact: No. Most instructors will not accept excuses involving broken equipment.   You need to have a computer with reliable internet access, and if something happens to your computer or internet connection, you have to find another one.

Myth 4- You will be taught how to use a computer.

Fact: No. Students taking online courses must have basic computer skills. Take this online self-evaluation quiz  and rate your tech skills.

Myth 5 - I can hide out and remain anonymous.
 No. Online courses demand engagement and a high level of participation. Discussions require the exchange of ideas and provide opportunities for all students to contribute in an nonthreatening environment.   Writing skills are more important than your verbal skills.   Some students respond that the online environment helps them gain confidence in their ability to interact with others.

Myth 6 - Cramming your work into one log-on session is fine.

Fact: No. Hesston’s online classes require students to log-on at least 5 different days per week. This practice ensures active participation and maximum learning. The nature of online learning requires more interaction to establish community and presence in the virtual environment of a course.

Myth 7 - It is okay to procrastinate.

Fact: No. Studies indicate that students who succeed in online courses are self-directed and independent learners who can take responsibility for completing assignments on time and meeting deadlines. Since there are no face-to-face reminders, online students must have excellent time management skills and discipline to develop and adhere to schedules.  Again, you are to be “in” the class at least five days per week.

Myth 8 -  It will be easy to fit in an online class with my busy schedule.

Fact: You must have a manageable balance of employment, classes, and family commitments. You must be able to budget sufficient time to study and complete assignments and exams. You may be required to have several face-to-face class times for interaction and for major exams.    Expectations for an eight week 3 credit hour course are that you will put in 15-20 hours of work per week.

Myth 9 -  Anyone can do an online course.

Fact: Online learning is not for everyone. You must have appropriate personal management attributes. Do you stay on course-related tasks without direct supervision? Can you prioritize your own study workload? Are you good at assessing your own progress?  Can you meet deadlines?

If you buy into any of these myths, you may want to rethink the online learning option. While online learning programs have made great strides to deliver personalized, engaging lessons, it’s up to students to stick to a study schedule, meet their course deadlines, and do large amounts of work independently. Some students find online learning courses are a very comfortable fit for their lifestyle, while other students need the kind of structure a classroom provides.

If your learning style is one where you are a self-starter, usually read and understand without needing help, can understand written instructions, can write well, and aren’t afraid to ask when you have a question, an online class may be right for you.