Last updated 3-8-2013
True or false…have you heard these rumors about online learning?
There are many rumors floating about online learning. Have you heard any of these? Do you think they are true or false?
True or False? Online courses are easier than traditional face-to-face classes.
Online courses cover the same material and learning objectives as their corresponding face-to-face classes. They generally require more reading, writing, and time online, since no live class time is required. If you have more limited computer skills, you may find the class more challenging as you learn computer skills and course content. The convenience of not having to get to campus saves time, but the course is not going to be easier than its face-to-face counterpart.
True or False? Online courses do not count toward an accredited degree.
Online courses may be taken for college credit or non-college credit. You may earn an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree online, just as students taking face-to face-classes can earn these same degrees. Black Hawk does not specify whether your degree was earned online, face-to-face or some combination on your transcript. What is important is whether the online degree is accredited by a regional accreditation agency such as the Higher Learning Commission (BHC’s AA and AS online degrees are accredited by the HLC). For more information, visit the Online Learning Center.
True or False? Online courses are essentially electronic textbooks.
Most online courses at Black Hawk College require textbooks, so the majority of reading will be from printed textbooks. Some additional reading or listening to course content may be required online, such as video or audio lectures, downloadable documents or articles, and links to content-relevant articles on other Web sites. As innovative learning strategies have been developed for online delivery, online courses have evolved into highly interactive courses, with discussion and other activities that encourage deeper conversations between the instructor and fellow students. Reading of electronic or print textbooks is only one aspect of most online courses.
True or False? Online courses are not as high quality as face-to-face courses.
Most studies find there is no significant difference between online courses and traditional face-to-face courses when they have the same learning outcomes. For example, Thomas Russell’s research has concluded from 355 studies that there is no significant difference in learning outcomes that can be attributed to online learning:
http://www.nosignificantdifference.org/. Accreditation bodies require that online courses with the same course number and objectives that focus on the same learning outcomes.
What is expected of me as an online student?
In face-to-face (F2F) classes, you are usually expected to take notes, turn homework in on time, participate in class discussions, and attend classes. Expectations of online students are often quite different:
- Turn homework in on time (OK, this one is the same as for F2F classes!)
- Participate in class discussions, like face-to-face classes, but this time it is all in writing, since active online discussion will keep you involved and engaged with your fellow learners, much like phone calls and text messaging keeps you connected to your friends and family.
- Have easy access to the Internet (preferably high-speed access); have a backup location for accessing the Internet if your home or work Internet connection is not available when you need to access the course or turn in assignments.
- Have at least 10-12 hours per week available to devote to each course.
- Be able to apply basic computer skills such as MS Office, internet navigation, downloading and uploading files to complete assignments, and participate in online activities; recruit a friend or colleague with more computer skills than you have to help you troubleshoot in a pinch.
- Be self-disciplined about managing time, since there is no peer pressure or regular class schedule to keep you on task.
- Be prepared to take proctored exams on campus or make arrangements to take them at a location close to your home. The hours for proctored testing on campus can be viewed at the Independent Learning Center (ILC). The ILC staff can assist you in finding other locations, as well. Many online do not require proctored exams, but many others do.
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