Online studying became a part of the new reality, the living in pandemic reality. When and how fast we will be able to move on, and whether the world will ever be coming back to pre-pandemic order that we do not know. Despite the necessity of adjusting our lifestyles including working from home, conducting meetings mainly online, adapting working hours to balance work and family life, assisting kids in online schooling, thus transferring substantial part of our lives to online reality, when it comes to online studying some still hold on to common myths. It is hard to say why getting used to new order of things comes pretty easy with certain aspects of our lives and why we are clinging so tight with others such as education delivered traditionally vs. online.
Here are the five most common myths I will try to debunk.
Degree recognition –for years it has been believed that an online degree is an ‘easy’ version of traditional studies and therefore the degree itself is of less value than a degree earned in a traditional way. Some sceptics still believe that a degree earned online is recognizable locally but not worldwide. First of all, let us distinguish between the two terms recognition and accreditation. An accredited degree needs recognition of a formal professional body e.g. a lawyer who obtained a law degree overseas and wishes to practice law in their home country needs to get accredited by a Bar, contrary to an individual wishing to pursue a career as a consultant, in IT, Business or Media & Communications who do not need their degree to be accredited. The rules here may differ country to country therefore it is worth checking accreditation bodies in your home country. Majority of professional qualifications do not require an accredited degree in order to get employment. However, obtaining a recognised degree from universityy may boost your opportunity to be employed therefore it is worth investing time and effort into studying with recognized institution. Also, it is worth checking if a degree level obtained is comparable to same level in a different country, as this is not always the case.
Quality of education – stating that there exists a difference in quality of obtained education dependent on delivery method is another common myth. However, the fact is that the amount of work and effort you put in your studies whether these are online or on campus delivered is very much comparable with the main difference being time management. Whether one spends fixed amout of hours in the live class or is logging in to the online class to download lectures, submit assignments or participate in online discussions does not determine the quality of education. In the end in both cases you get as much from your studies as you want, and it is not the university that compromises on the quality but students themselves finding the middle ground and determining what works for them best. Surely, online studies offer more flexibility but at the end of the day you get to paddle your own canoe.
No interaction with students –what stops many from pursuing online studies is the fact that they strongly believe they will be somehow deprived of interaction with other students and that method of delivery will be based on reading downloadable lectures. Would you be surprised to know that online studies require actually lots of interaction with other students and quite often one of elements of assessment is based on peer interaction. What is more, the reality is that in your class you will be exposed to students coming from all over the world unlike the traditional class that quite often misses representation of students from other countries. As a result of finding yourself in a class with professionals from all over the world, this allows you to discuss problems from a more global perspective. Moreover, online studying requires from students participating, exchanging ideas, experiences, opinions, discussing problems, looking for common solutions.
Personal attention – a lot of people believe that studying online makes you feel somehow anonymous in the class and that it is very difficult to receive personal attention if needed. This however, is not the case. As an online student you are given personal attention starting from the element of class participation – getting involved in discussions with students and instructors, explaining your point of view, sharing individual experiences, commenting on peer’s work to receiving an individual feedback from instructor commenting on your progress.
Engagement – how much time it will require from me to engage is one of most common questions prospect students are asking. There is not an easy answer to this question. As a matter of fact, it depends on how much do you wish to gain from your studies. Whether it is an absolute minimum or whether you really want to make most of it and engage fully to explore and learn more. This will vary depending on the subject of your interest, your expertise or simply time you allow yourself to engage in your studies in a particular moment. To make sure expectations are met, universities provide you with information on estimated time a particular module/course will require from you to invest but how you manage this time is completely up to you. Most important is the fact that online studying does not require from you to be in the class at any particular time and through any specific time, which allows lots of freedom and flexibility and is more than manageable under one condition-that you do not leave everything for the very last moment.
Whether it is element of engagement, personal attention, interaction with peer students, quality of education or degree recognition, after reading this brief article I hope common myths related to online education will never see the daylight again and will not stop you from meeting your goal of pursuing education. While deciding on enrolling to a an online programme it is important to ask about everything you doubt in order to make a wise and educated decision of your future investment.