Online learning has come a long way since its early champions saw it as a supplement to classroom learning. Skeptics initially questioned the viability of the new model, wondering if it would provide the right levels of support, curriculum, and engagement needed to ensure student success. And while online learning has more than proven itself to be both an alternative to and complementary offering for traditional classroom instruction, some misconceptions still persist.
For example, because virtual instructors aren’t physically present in a classroom, their qualifications and expertise can come into question. The subject matter itself—often thought of as “boring” or “unengaging”—is another area where myths persist. And finally, online skeptics are still talking about issues like lack of teacher support and low student success rates.
Dispelling the myths about virtual learning
To help dispel these myths and provide some insider knowledge on how online education really works, here’s a five-point list of things that you may not have known about virtual learning.
1. It hasn’t reached its peak yet.
Students of all ages are learning online—from the third-grader who wants to get a jump on her foreign-language skills to the college student who takes half of his credits online to the supply chain executive who wants to learn about the latest tech trends in her industry.
Related: An insider’s advice on creating an effective virtual learning program
According to Stratistics MRC, the global e-learning market accounted for $165.21 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $275.10 billion by 2022, growing at a 7.4 percent compound annual growth rate during that time. Key drivers behind this growth include flexibility in learning, low cost, ease of accessibility, and increased effectiveness through animated learning.
2. Online teachers know their stuff.
Anyone who is teaching online coursework in public schools must have a teacher’s license. Online educators must meet the same education standards as their non-virtual counterparts, which means earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in teaching (depending on what grades he or she is going to teach).
The problem is that online courses offered by for-profit providers often have high student-to-teacher ratios, limiting the time teachers can spend one-on-one with students. This leads to issues ranging from boredom to an inability to understand material to students feeling like they’ve been left out in the cold and unsupported.