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Online learning: breaking down five big misconceptions

Online learning: breaking down five big misconceptions

Though online courses have been growing in popularity over the last few years, there’s no denying there’s some confusion around them as well.

A part of this is simply because the term “online courses” is used to describe so many different types of learning. This can lead to aspiring students being fed the wrong information when they start researching about studying remotely.

To help you decide whether distance learning is right for you, we’re clearing up five of the biggest misconceptions about studying online.

Misconception one: online courses are just stripped-down versions of on-campus options

A programme that offers an academic qualification (such as a BSc or an MBA) always needs to meet specific requirements relating to the depth and breadth of learning it provides.

This means that a postgraduate or undergraduate course conducted online will have the same amount of content as an on-campus equivalent.

While some educational institutions do offer shortened, online versions of full-length courses, these can’t provide a recognised qualification – though they can sometimes count for credits if you decide to study the complete programme later.

Misconception two: you’ll have to teach yourself all the material

This misconception has been perpetuated by massive online open courses (MOOCs) – heavily automated courses designed to serve as many individuals as possible with minimum involvement from the accrediting institution.

MOOCs don’t set entry requirements for people interested in joining them. Therefore, if the university you’re considering requests certain qualifications before you can begin, it’s typically safe to assume you’ll receive individualised academic support.

For example, at UCLan you’ll be taught directly by our academics during live, weekly webinars. Our online tutor team also oversees regular activities and group work to reinforce these lessons, meaning you’ll be constantly learning from experts in the field.

With UCLan online, you can access your course at any time, from anywhere in the world. Find out more about the online learning experience:

Discover how you'll study online

Misconception three: there’s little to no interaction with academics or other students

This concern is closely linked to the one above – but you’ll be glad to know that many universities offering accredited online programmes often have several ways for you to engage with others.

As a UCLan student, in addition to being able to speak with your academics during webinars, you’ll be able to email them directly as well, to ask any questions or discuss feedback.

You’ll also be able to message and get to know all your course mates via our forums. In fact, you may even work together on projects, depending on your programme. Many of our students go on to form groups on WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and other platforms to chat regularly.

Misconception four: you need to be very tech-savvy to study remotely

All you need to take on an online UCLan course is a laptop or PC, along with a reliable internet connection. This is true of plenty of other universities with distance learning programmes as well.

You’ll access all course content via Moodle, our easy-to-use virtual classroom. Study materials can come in range of formats, from PDFs to videos to podcast links – with everything presented in a clear, straightforward way for your use.

In the unlikely event that you do get stuck with something, we have a team of student advisers on hand to guide you through such practical issues, so that you’ll be back on track in no time.

Misconception 5: Degrees earned online aren’t valued in the outside world

Last but not least, let’s address what might be the biggest misconception about online courses: that they don’t hold the same value as on-campus degrees.

It’s important to state here that if you’re studying for an accreditation, there’ll be no difference between a degree earned online versus one earned on campus. Our graduates attend the same ceremony and receive the same degree!

As an online student, if you graduate from a postgraduate or undergraduate course, you’ve met the same standard of excellence required from anyone else who studied the subject.

While there may be a few employers who hold outdated views on remote learning, they are few and far between, and they certainly can’t refute the validity of your qualification.

Have more questions about online learning? Thinking about starting one of our Master’s courses? Get in touch with our friendly Course Adviser team using the form below to get more information and talk through your options.

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We'll get in touch to discuss your course of interest and answer any questions.