Myths about Online Learning

Online learning is easier.

Online courses are as rigorous as on-campus courses. Students taking two classes online are expected to spend around 20 hours per week on coursework. The time commitment is equivalent to having a demanding part-time job. Online courses tend to require more reading and writing than a residential class. Like all forms of learning, you get out of it what you put in. 

Online students miss out on interactions with instructors and other students.

Virtual discussions are very robust and in some cases will exceed what students have experienced in the classroom. The quality of online discussion is cited regularly as a favorite component  of the program. You are not on your own, by any means. Instructors, administrators and fellow students are available and more than willing to support you. Student support extends to advising, library services and other campus resources. Past students overwhelmingly agree that they feel part of an online community.

Online courses are self-paced and, thus, less structured.

While flexibility is the key in e-learning, flexibility does not equal loose and unstructured. Courses have a syllabus and schedule of assignments with strict deadlines and high standards for participation and performance. Students must log into online courses regularly to meet expectations. Students need to be self-motivated, capable of independent study and self-discipline.

Tips for Success as an Online Student

Communicate clearly to avoid confusion and miscommunication.

Because of the independence inherent in e-learning, it is crucial that you build good relationships with your instructors and fellow students to eliminate or significantly reduce miscommunication. You will have multiple avenues of connecting with both faculty and other students. Check your university email regularly.

Prepare and read materials thoroughly.

Read course syllabus and other course content carefully. Learn expectations and requirements ahead of time. Pay attention to detail, particularly when following written directions. Obtain and/or explore resources, like e-Reserves, textbooks, course links, before the course begins.

Don’t get sidelined by technical issues.

Ensure your technology (computer, email, course management system, Internet connection, etc.) is working before the start of the course. Post to the “technical help” discussion board or email an administrator if you are experiencing difficulty with technology on any level that is impairing your participation in courses or completion of assignments. You are not on your own. Your instructor and administrators as well as fellow students are there to assist you.

Take responsibility to manage your time.

With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes self-discipline. Log in every day, or as often as possible, and at least 3-4 times per week. Do not procrastinate: It is much easier to handle the course load if done regularly in small chunks rather than in large ones less frequently. Students must be able to organize and plan their own best “time to learn” to stay on schedule with readings and assignments. There is no one best time for everyone, but the key to learning is to make the time to learn.

Stay motivated.

Online learning is an endurance sport. Per course, students should expect to spend an average of eight to ten hours per week on readings, class discussions and other assignments. When you’re feeling burned out and tired of staring at a screen, don’t slack. Remember that everyone has good days and bad. The key to online class success: never give up. Develop your own strategies to stay engaged.

Participate thoughtfully and actively in online discussions.

Meaningful and quality discussion is an essential part of online courses. Remember quality over quantity. The asynchronous nature of our courses allows for the careful consideration of your posts to the discussion board. Make sure you are substantively adding to the discussion with each post. The testing and challenging of theory is encouraged. However, posts that do not add to the discussion (e.g. “I agree”) are not encouraged. We suggest you begin participating in the weekly discussion early. Waiting until late in the discussion can be overwhelming. You might find that all of the points you’d like to raise have already been covered.