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7 Myths of Online Learning

by Monica Smith

Sep 11, 2019, 9:00 AM.

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Online isn’t what it used to be. It’s ironic that the great majority of university education focuses on truth in topics, yet myths persist when it comes to online learning. Most myths have been dispelled, but some misconceptions still abound. For Florida International University, credibility and reputation count—FIU Online has offered online learning for more than 20 years and boasts a full lineup of over 130 degree and program tracks. If you’re considering online learning with FIU, read the following points that separate fact from fiction.

Myth 1: Online classes are easier.

Online courses can be more difficult because you have to work harder to communicate ideas. This is especially true with curriculum that includes visual learning, such as with engineering. In these cases, FIU Online instructors can leverage a “Learning Glass” to record themselves mapping out more complex concepts, formulas or graphics. They also have access to a full multimedia team, which can create rich imagery and visuals to augment coursework. The idea that online classes are easy perhaps stems from the fact that learners have the flexibility to complete coursework on their own time to make deadlines—but this requires a high level of discipline and dedication.

Myth 2: Classes are low quality.

FIU maintains the highest number of “Quality Matters” certified courses in the nation for public institutions. With 400 online courses QM certified, the university ensures that students experience the most up-to-date and highest quality courses. FIU Online courses that are QM certified go through rigorous evaluation to confirm the subject matter provided is the most relevant with regard to the degree program.

Myth 3: Online courses are recordings of on-campus classes.

Today’s online programs offer dynamic lessons and are not simply recordings of what happens on campus. Each class is designed with specificity, broken down into weekly modules, and feature many digital resources including gamification to create engagement and excitement for learners. All classes are designed with working professionals in mind and organized in a way to specifically enhance the online learning platform and discussion postings.

Myth 4: There’s limited professor access.

Many instructors hold office hours through Zoom, which can help students get to know them and receive answers to absorb lessons better. Online instructors’ office hours tend to be more flexible because they teach online. Zoom is FIU’s official web conferencing application for real-time course lectures, meetings, and tutoring. Online instructors also respond to emails, many give out their personal phone numbers, and can meet in person, if necessary.

Myth 5: There’s no engagement with classmates.

Engagement with other students in online learning occurs with group projects, discussion postings and responses, and through other types of collaborative assignments. Many classes feature discussions a couple of times a week, which allow learners to build on ideas, share research and test new thoughts. This type of communication, albeit asynchronous, offers a steady stream of engagement for students during each module week.

Myth 6: Assignments can be done anytime.

Although online learning is touted for flexibility, and learners can access their coursework at any time, this flexibility does not extend to deadlines or due dates with coursework. Whether it’s an eight- or 16-week course, all assignments will have due dates within the course timeframe that must be met—usually by 11:59 p.m. on a certain day each week. Many instructors make assignments due Sunday night by 11:59 p.m.

Myth 7: Online degrees aren’t respected.

When an online student graduates, his or her FIU diploma is identical to an on-campus student’s diploma. There is no difference. FIU has a strong reputation for its research, which is a major component of the university's mission. The university is among the small percentage of top institutions designated R1 Carnegie Classification for Highest Research Activity. This is a designation it shares with some of the most distinguished and decorated institutions in the U.S. Understanding its high research activity and the flexibility of its online programs, many employers have specifically partnered with FIU Online to offer employees educational benefits. More than 115,000 FIU alumni live and work in South Florida.

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