From authenticity to employability, don't let these myths about online education stop you from studying a degree.
Online education is becoming more commonplace. As students interrogate the tuition costs of traditional university and explore how to mix education with other commitments, the flexibility of online education sees it growing in popularity.
Yet, while the interest in online education is rising, myths and misconceptions about it also grow. In this article, we’ll look at ten common myths and see what we can do to dispel them.
1. The quality of an online degree is lower
While academic standards may vary from university to university, reputable online universities go through rigorous certification processes to ensure they meet the Government’s required academic standards.
Some online courses may actually be of a higher standard. As all course texts and lectures are digital, it gives tutors the ability to instantly change materials as new research or developments happen.
At Arden, we work closely with employers, business leaders and professional bodies to ensure our courses develop workplace-ready students with qualifications that are recognised globally.
2. Online courses are not accredited
Courses at reputable online universities are always accredited; this is something students must check when applying to any further education provider, online or otherwise.
All UK universities that offer degrees must have Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP). This gives higher education providers the right to award bachelor’s degrees with honours and other taught higher education qualifications. Any university you apply to should clearly state whether they hold TDAP.
Many of our courses are accredited by professional bodies which means you can be sure your qualification is meeting industry standards, and will be valued by employers around the world.
3. You don't have any contact with your tutors
Although your degree will be studied online, you can have as much or as little contact with your tutors as you require.
Online degrees may be set up in many different ways – but they are commonly taught through online, pre-recorded lectures that students can watch whenever suits them, pausing and re-watching sections as required, along with online study materials that students can work through at their own pace.
These are then supported with online, real-time chat between students, lecturers and their peers, with one-to-one telephone and email support as required, and feedback on assignments. Online students sometimes have greater access to their tutors than those at a traditional university.
Find out how we support our students.
4. Cheating is common
As with all types of further education, cheating can occur. There are websites where students can get their coursework written for a price – but these are accessible from both online and ‘bricks and mortar’ institutions.
Online professors use tools such as plagiarism software to spot where students have copied, lifted from texts or had their assignments written for them.
5. Employers don't like online degrees
This depends on the individual. You may meet some employers who have an outdated view of online learning. However, in our experience, employers welcome employees with qualifications from reputable universities – online or not.
Many employers are becoming aware of the advantages online learning offers – employees can study while remaining in work. Employers therefore retain their in-house talent whilst upskilling them. Many employers will now pay, or at least part-pay, for employees to study online alongside their work.
It’s not easier to gain an online degree. Courses at reputable online institutions are as challenging as those at traditional universities and present their own set of challenges.
Unlike a traditional university setting, online students may be required to plan and manage their own workload. In addition, online students are more likely to have additional commitments, such as work or family, which they need to plan their university work around.
A university qualification is designed to challenge you. Whether you study online or offline, you will need to work hard to achieve your goal. However, universities should work with you before and after you enrol to ensure you are studying at the correct level. At Arden, we have dedicated Admissions and Student Support teams to help our students stay on track.
7. You're lonely if you study online
Distance Learning used to be a lonely experience. However, as technology has advanced and as more people are choosing the flexibility of online study, this has changed.
With degree forums, discussion groups, blogs, wikis, Skype chats and more you can participate as much or as little as you need to. As technology has developed, rather than sitting at the back of a 300-person lecture theatre, you can now be up close and personal watching a lecture from the viewpoint of the front row
8. You have to teach yourself
Just because you study remotely, doesn’t mean you have to teach yourself. Online tutors will be there to guide and teach you throughout the duration of your course, through a mixture of online materials, video lectures, Skype one-to-ones, online seminars and email support.
Tutors at online universities are responsible for engaging with and teaching their students, just as in any other traditional university setting.
9. You have to be a tech whizz
Technology has changed the way we interact with everything in the world and this includes education. The virtual classroom uses many of the technologies you already use at school or in the workplace.
Technology is more and more accessible, and we are becoming more and more tech-savvy. The technology required for an online degree is the same you would use for messaging friends, watching videos on the internet or making a call online.
There is no need to learn programming code or technical skills, unless you’re taking a computing degree!
10. You have to find your own resources
Just like with any other course, resources are supplied by your university and tutors. And just like any other university, you may be given a reading list of books to buy to supplement your course.
Online universities provide online material in the shape of wikis, blogs, digital texts, videos and online lectures. In addition, some online universities have agreements with local colleges and universities enabling students to use facilities such as their libraries and computer rooms.
If these myths have been deterring you from taking an online degree, then it’s time to look again at the online opportunities out there.
As with any course you take, remember to do your research and speak to the admissions teams about any queries or doubts you may have.
If you still think online learning is not for you, why not look at Blending Learning, with its mix of online learning and face-to-face seminars, it might be the right educational blend for you.
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Arden University is reviewed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the independent body entrusted with monitoring and advising on standards and quality in UK higher educationClick here to read Arden University's latest review report