In this brief article, I debunk some of the most common and deadly misconceptions about distance learning. And you want to read this. Why? Because if you don’t consider the new directions and potential of distance learning, you may be ignoring or ruling out vital opportunities to increase your professional skills, complete your degree, or expand your professional relationships. It’s true, some of these myths are killers for you, because even though the means to breathe new life into your career are in your home, you’ve decided to ignore them. Let’s change all of that together
Join me, as we explore these 7 busting myths of distance learning and unlock the doors of opportunity and empowerment that await as soon as your laptop, cell phone, and iPod.
1. You must be online at the same time in order to participate in distance learning. Many people have this idea because they may have participated in webinars in the workplace: lectures or seminars delivered live over the web. However, webinars are only one of several ways to provide distance learning. The most common format is to use asynchronous delivery (or asynchronous as we call it). This format allows participants to log in online to do their work whenever it is most convenient for them in their day. Don’t you want to choose when you learn? Another great benefit of asynchronous learning is that it overcomes timezone conflicts when they are global collections.
2. Distance learning is boring and often canned. This statement may be the case if you only read the test, or watch the video, but didn’t you attend a boring lecture? Too much of any one educational situation can make it difficult to keep people interested. Today’s well-designed distance learning courses include not only video, text, graphics, audio, and images, but also user-created material in all the same formats. Not only will a great course provide learning in a varied format that addresses multiple learning styles and learning intelligences, but it will also engage learners in active participation! Student podcasts, videos, and online role-playing games are just a few examples. Learners also post or lead topic-focused discussion boards and solve group simulations. Distance learning can provide a dimension to make learning meaningful and active.
3. I don’t like this “at your own pace” distance learning. Again, distance learning comes in so many modes now that you can take a fully instructor-led course, or a course that includes partial independence along with direct supervision. In some content areas, participants may also be in private learning sessions, just you and the teacher, or with groups. Although they are usually more expensive, if private learning, tutoring, or specific time frames suit you better, a private versus group class can be a real advantage and motivator.
4. Distance learning is much easier than traditional classes. This concern is mostly raised in connection with academic grades and it couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, students need to work harder, especially in the beginning, with online courses. They need to shift into being responsible for their own learning and investing more time in self-discipline, scheduling their studies outside of the classroom (no time inside the classroom!), and keeping track of their deadlines. For some people it is easy to adapt, for other people they should focus on developing strategies for online learning success. But once the effort is made, responsible learners may begin to soar with future possibilities. Now, doesn’t this lesson contain a lot of good reciprocal benefits? Hmmm.
5. Distance learning creates greater social isolation. I think most of the people declaring this myth, they don’t use social media. Otherwise, they would have a better idea of the intense interactions in the distance categories. Discussion boards, email and peer dialogue, and group projects all jostle for the amount of interaction in a traditional classroom. I always say that face-to-face lessons are by necessity required to play Beat the Clock; Therefore, students’ interaction time is limited. In contrast, remote classes can expand as much as students are willing to invest in. isolation? Not in our experience – we sometimes have to rein them in!
6. Teachers do not need to set up a new classroom: remote teaching is like teaching in a traditional classroom. This is a very dangerous myth, because teachers and learners will be disappointed with the results if it is followed. While distance learning is based on the principles of great teaching practice, many different or new specific issues need to be addressed. For example, being part of a cosmopolitan classroom, intercultural communication may be required more prominently than usual. Also whether classes are delivered at the same time or not, a distant audience means different dynamics. It can be vigorous and energetic, or fraught with problems, but don’t try to head into this format without preparation.
7. There is no need to direct students. Students use the same skills as a traditional classroom, just plug and play! Many organizations have struggled with this approach, and so have their participants! From technical support to study skills and time management to registration and needs to operations, people need to move away from their assumptions and rethink the needs of a remote learner. When engaged, this approach unleashes a vibrant, global classroom.
next steps. We hope this brief article has raised some new questions for you and challenged some of your previous assumptions or opinions. Consider taking a reputable distance learning course. Experience virtual learning for yourself and consider how this experience can be beneficial for you, your family and colleagues to meet your personal and professional learning needs. From completing an academic degree, to learning a language to prepare for your next trip to Spain, or strategies to restart your dream career, opportunities can be as close as a computer, iPod, or cell phone, if you give it a shot and follow the advice above.