Throughout the country the trend of online learning has spread and more college and universities offer fully accredited psychology degrees online than ever before. With this dramatic increase come many questions and criticisms. One of the most widely asked questions remains ‘is an online psychology degree as respectable as a traditional on campus degree?’ Despite the boom of online learning, there are still a number of myths surrounding online education. A New York Times article written by John Ebersole, The Myths of Online Learning, outlined and discussed the top six myths surrounding an online education.
Myth #1 – Online Learning Decreases the Need for Faculty Members
While it is understandable where this myth came from, the truth is that an equal amount of faculty, and in some cases more, are required for the online learning system to operate successfully. The opinion that online courses are created by faculty and run autonomously is not the case. If an online psychology program aspires to be granted accreditation, the school must prove that students are receiving direct faculty interactions on a regular basis. It is also worth nothing that class sizes are often much smaller in an online learning setting. This means that more faculty members are needed to teach these courses.
Myth #2 – All Online Courses Are the Same
Many people surmise that all online courses are mundane and bland. However, many students report that their experience with online learning is more interesting, innovative and cutting edge than sitting in a classroom. With options like Whiteboards, video instruction, online research tools, video chatting and advanced graphics, some professors claim that online learning gives them more creative options to utilize in lesson planning.
Myth #3 – The Quality Of Outcomes Is Less For Online Students
Several research studies have been conducted over the past twenty years to compare learning outcomes in a distance-learning environment versus a traditional classroom environment. What this research has shown is that the level of success for online learning is very similar to those outcomes in a traditional classroom environment. Some studies have even indicated that outcomes are slightly better in online programs.
Myth #4 – Online Degree Programs Are Offered Mainly By For-Profit Organizations
In the early stages of online learning there were a host of online academic institutions that appeared largely to earn a profit. The level of education was sub-par and hence the stereotype was born. This is no longer the reality for the vast majority of online learning. The majority of universities (including nationally ranked, highly respected institutions) are now providing students online learning with a high level of academic respect.
Myth #5 – Online Degrees Are Not Accepted by Employers
Several surveys have been conducted in the United States asking employers their feelings regarding hiring applicants with degrees from online programs. The employers surveyed have overwhelming agreed that their feelings about hiring online degree holders is very positive. Some potential employers even see this type of learning as a sign of self-motivation. Most employers are simply concerned with the accredited college or university the degree was earned from.
Myth #6 – You Do Not Know If The Person Doing The Work Is The Person Receiving Credit
The final myth can be said of both online and on campus learning. The Internet, mobile devices and other advances in technology have made it significantly easier for students to submit work that is not their own. The majority of collegiate institutions are taking measures to reduce plagiarism and hold students accountable for completing their own work.
As distance learning continues to grow at a feverish pace, these negative opinions are being expressed much less readily. While there were issues in the early days of online learning, they are becoming a thing of the past. With the growth of online, hybrid and web-enhanced programs, most of these myths have been remedied. As the myths of online learning become dismissed, more students can feel assured that their online psychology degree is highly respected.