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There are a lot of urban myths floating around out there. Likethe one that says a tooth left in a glass of pop overnight willdissolve. (It won’t.) Or the one your older brother used to tellyou about how your face would stay like that if he hit you in theback.

There are also a lot of myths about online education. It’snatural for people to be suspicious about new ideas or new ways ofdoing things, and the incredible growth and development of onlinelearning over the last 10 years was bound to attract scepticism.Here are some facts about the bigger myths about onlineeducation:

Myth: Online distance education is a new, untested way tolearn

Actually, online distance education has been a reality for thebetter part of 20 years. Right from the beginning of the World WideWeb, businesses, universities and researchers have been using theInternet to pool information and deliver training materials tostudents or employees. Throughout the 1990s, universities began touse their school Intranet networks to disseminate courseinformation, and later course content. Eventually, they began todeliver courses to remote students via the World Wide Web, andfinally, complete online degree courses.

Also, distance education itself is nothing new – the Universityof Wisconsin, for instance, started offering correspondence coursesbeginning in 1892, long before most households even had telephones.The rapid development of multimedia Internet technology and theexpansion of Internet access has improved this old approach toeducation by making it possible to complete coursework and connectto instructors and classmates wherever you can access theInternet.

Myth: Online learning isn’t “real”

Some people have the idea that online learning is like one ofthose virtual reality social sites, where you have a virtual house,virtual friends and virtual pets. But with schools like Stanfordand the University of Michigan offering onlinedegrees, it’s pretty easy to rebut that idea. As long as youare attending a regionally accredited institution, you’re earning adegree that counts.

Some online students find it reassuring to attend the onlineoutlet of a college that has a bricks-and-mortar campus. Whenresearching online degreeprograms, you can always check the accreditation status of aschool by visiting the U.S. Department of Education’s website,ope.ed.gov/accreditation.

Myth: Online degree courses aren’t academically rigorous

There’s an incorrect notion that when you take a degree online,the curriculum isn’t as challenging as it would be if you attendedclass on campus. This isn’t true: most universities are now able todeliver video lectures, readings and other course material via theInternet that are the same as or equivalent to the materialsstudents in face-to-face classes receive. And because you’reonline, you can review the information as often as you need. Trygetting a professor in a campus-based course to deliver the samelecture twice.

Also, there’s generally more reading and writing in onlinecoursework. Like any student, you have to complete readings andthen discuss them in class. But because your class discussions takeplace on a message board or chat program, you’re actually writingout your responses. Many online classes make responding todiscussions mandatory, so you can’t hide in the back of theclassroom. You have to think about what you’ve read and compose aresponse to it.

In fact, the level of reading and writing in online courses,along with the fact that you can review materials at your own pace,may lead to better learning. Twelve years of evidence about theoutcomes of online education suggests that degree-level studentswho attend classes online (whether fully online or partiallyonline) actually perform slightly better than students whose entireeducation is classroom-based. This probably wouldn’t be the case ifthe online students were receiving a less academically rigorouseducation. The analysis of this evidence, conducted by the U.S.Department of Education, can be read in the report “Evaluation ofEvidence-Based Practices In Online Learning.”

What online learning does make easier

Online learning doesn’t make the academic side of earning adegree any less challenging. But online education does make iteasier to take college courses while you’re working. It makes iteasier to finish your degree while you’re at home with your kids,or deployed with the military. It makes it possible for you tocomplete your education or gain new skills without having to giveup your current responsibilities or lifestyle. In other words,online education is convenient. If that convenience will help youachieve your academic goals, don’t be afraid to go for it.

This article is presented by Colorado Technical University, anetwork of online and on-ground campuses offering career-focusededucation at the associate, bachelor, master and doctorate levels.To find out more about CTU’s online degree programs and campuslocations, visit www.coloradotech.edu

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the HigherLearning Commission and is a member of the North CentralAssociation of Colleges and Schools.(CTU does not guaranteeemployment or salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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