Online education has in no way replaced the brick-and-mortar institutional setting, but it has certainly earned a significant amount of attention and visibility in recent years. The internet plays a valuable in all types of education; in some cases it is used exclusively for research. In others, the majority of class time takes place online and students physically gather only a few times per semester. Still others are solely internet-based, comprised of students all around the country – or world – and never meet each other in person.

With the rise of the internet’s presence in education, there has been no shortage of assumptions and opinions about its validity and effectiveness. They range from skeptical to favorable; many are quite accurate but most are entirely unfounded.

For instance, it is a common belief that online courses cannot offer the levels of interaction and attention from instructors that on-site classrooms can. Those who enroll in online courses with expectation are typically quite surprised. Participation requirements often include regular chat sessions, seminars, project presentations, and ongoing discussion forums. Additionally, instructors hold regular office hours, making themselves available online or by phone.

These are in-depth requirements. Students are generally required to post comments and questions on the discussion boards multiple times per week. Furthermore, they are also expected to respond to regular questions regarding the material being covered. Basic paraphrasing of textbook content is unacceptable. Instead, clearly articulated responses must be analyzed and applied to personal experiences.

Another unfortunate myth regarding internet-based education is that in-depth and productive class discussions are nonexistent. They are comparable to traditional classroom settings, however. Again, students are required to participate. Semesters often begin with participants making short, overly general comments. As everyone becomes more comfortable, interactions grow into polite debates.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating assumptions about online learning is that it is effortless, that online students do it the easy way. The work itself is immensely challenging, and the participation requirements are demanding at best. Every week, numerous hours must be dedicated to each online course a given student might have in progress.

As internet-based education becomes more normalized, these and many other unfair myths are likely to be dispelled. Overall, the better option is highly individualized. While one student may thrive academically through online coursework, another may struggle immensely. Each learning environment is unique and beneficial, but must be considered based on subjective needs and desires.