To Put This in Context:
Online learning is rapidly becoming the delivery method of choice for the younger generation. Nearly 25% of college students are now enrolled in some form of distance learning — and its popularity is rising. However, widespread misconceptions about online education still exist, which can skew public perception. If you are considering an online education to learn new skills or advance your career, separating fact from myth can be paramount in your academic journey. To help you decide if online education is right for you, we have debunked four of the most common myths.
MYTH #1: Online courses are easier and require less time.
One of the most common online education myths is that an online course is easier than its on-campus counterpart. People falsely assume that an online course provides more flexibility at the expense of rigor. In reality, online education is often very labor-intensive, and it requires copious amounts of reading and writing. You can expect the same coursework in an online course as on campus. In addition, online students face the challenge of conveying their ideas via writing or video technology, which requires different skills than traditional classroom participation. In many cases, tests are taken while on webcam, and students are required to show identification.
Online courses require more self-direction than traditional courses. While face-to-face interactions with instructors on campus can help remind students when assignments are due, online students must keep themselves on task. Many students need the flexibility that online courses afford, but it can add to the challenge for those who struggle with time management.
MYTH #2: Online learning is a lower quality alternative.
Another misconception about online courses is that, because the delivery method is different than a traditional course, the structure and concepts are also different. In fact, at most reputable institutions, students study the same material as those who take traditional classes for the same program. Professors who teach online courses must be skilled at time management and communicating effectively across different channels. This means online courses tend to be taught by highly skilled practitioners, adding to the value students receive.
Some students fear that online courses can inhibit them from networking and socializing with their classmates, or even effectively communicating with their professors. This is a valuable part of college that students don’t want to miss when taking courses online. However, many online programs require frequent video conferencing, group projects, and even digital presentations, all of which give online students the opportunity to interact with their classmates and professors. Online students are also encouraged to take part in online clubs and organizations just as they would if they were on campus. Penn State’s World Campus, for example, has a Psychology Club for its online students that boasts 124 members from several different states and even a few foreign countries.The group frequently hosts video lectures for its members with Q&A sessions and networking opportunities, 100% online.
90% of students feel their #OnlineEducation is equal to or better than their classroom experiences. #Context
MYTH #3: Employers do not like to hire prospects with online degrees.
Some students may fear that employers and recruiters will prefer candidates who received their degree on campus over those who obtained their degree online. However, the evidence shows in many cases employers actually prefer candidates who got their education online. In fact, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 70% of employers surveyed had hired someone with an online degree in the past 12 months. 
Employers look for self-motivated people who can work independently and collaborate online with colleagues. In this way, online degree programs not only mimic what is going on in the workplace, but also prepare candidates for the emerging work environment. More employees are working remotely or with colleagues in other locations, and online degree graduates already have proved they can effectively communicate and engage online. “Companies that discriminate against candidates simply because they have online degrees overlook a diverse pool of potential hires,” said Gerry Crispin, co-founder of CareerXRoads, a talent acquisition and consulting firm. In addition, those who earn their degree online receive the same degree as on-campus students. Diplomas do not distinguish an online degree from one earned on campus.
MYTH #4: Online courses are not accredited.
Accrediting agencies — national, regional, and program-based — exist to establish and uphold a high level of quality in education, and they review online and on-campus programs with the same rigorous standards, which means an accredited online degree is equal in quality to an on-campus degree. Accreditation for online courses depends on the school or degree program, just as with traditional courses. Most online programs from reputable schools are accredited, and the number of available courses continues to grow. A report by the Council for Higher Education revealed a 25% increase in accredited programs from 2011 to 2013 alone.  According to a study conducted by the Learning House, accreditation status is the top indicator online students use to determine a school’s reputation.
Online learning can not only be just as valuable as traditionally delivered courses, but it can also provide students with time management and communication skills that employers search for in potential candidates. Bill Gates once said, “Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.” This is illustrated by online education. The power of knowledge is now at your fingertips. Let Context find the right online degree that could give you the edge to help take your career to the next level.
In 2014, 5.8 million students took at least one online course. #themoreyouknow #findyourcontext #Context