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  • Mikelle Drew

7 Common Myths (and the real deal) about Online Courses

Updated: May 3, 2021

Update: This was originally written in 2018, post-COVID, but it still serves as a great guide to how you can get the most from e-learning and online courses.

Whenever I bring up taking an online class with my company, 383 Design Studio, I get very mixed reactions. Some people are really open to the idea, but a lot of my clients and potential students are still not sold on the idea. And I can’t figure out why. An online class, in my head, is the best of both worlds. Convenient, easy access, inexpensive, live instruction, recorded sessions. Why would anyone NOT want to take an online class?

So I started asking about their concerns, and I was very surprised to learn that a lot of people’s hangups about online training are based on what they ‘think’ it’s like, not what it’s actually like. So, let’s go through a few of the beliefs and dispel some of the misconceptions about e-learning and online training.

Misconception #1: I’ll get distracted if there isn’t a real person in front of me. This really comes down to planning and knowing yourself. Yes, you can train anywhere: on the beach or in the park. But if you know you get distracted easily, the beach or the park is probably not the best place for you to learn. Shut your office door and ask for all of your calls to be held or sent directly to voicemail. Or find a conference room where you cannot only be away from co-workers but also from any other work you might get distracted by on your desk. If you’re home, make sure you find a quiet place to work and let everyone in the house know that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next hour or two. Just because you’re not in a formal classroom, it doesn’t mean your surroundings shouldn’t be similar to a classroom environment (i.e. quiet, free from distractions, and conducive to learning.) And do yourself a favor: shut down your email and put your cell phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’.

Lastly, if you’re concerned about seeing a real person, many instructors will turn on their webcam at least some of the time (if not for the entire duration) of the class. So, you’ll definitely have the feeling of a real person being in front of you.

Misconception #2: I get bored with online classes. Sometimes this is a really matter of choosing the right instructor or the material. Because you’re sitting in front of a computer the entire time, it becomes really important to find an instructor who is engaging and creates engaging material. There are many instructors creating online classes. Some are better than others, so do your research. Watch samples of their classes or find them on YouTube to see what their teaching style is like. If you find yourself drifting off or uninspired by their voice or material, find someone else.

Misconception #3: Online classes don’t teach you everything. This was probably one of the most confusing responses I received. Perhaps because of the format, there’s this idea that there are limitations to what can be taught or demonstrated. But just about anything can be taught through an online format. (And I’m only saying ‘just about’ because I can’t think of anything that can’t right this minute, but you never know!) It really comes down to the instructor’s lecture, their demonstration and if it’s someone showing an actual task (like pattern making or sewing), how it’s filmed. And as I mentioned previously, you have lots of instructors to choose from so find one (or more) that’s doing it well, and start learning!