Myths About Taking Online Courses

I feel like that's false advertising

Summer is finally here, which, for some of us, means a whole lot of sun and relaxation.

Cartoon of a surfer

But, for some of us, we have resorted to taking courses over the summer, bettering our education and getting ahead. Also, I don’t like Gen Eds. So, naturally, I’d like to get them out of the way as soon as possible.

After talking it over with my parents and working out housing I decided to spend most of my summer in Bloomington, enjoying the vastly different atmosphere, and focusing on my own personal growth and experiences. Taking my courses online sounded like a great idea– It probably wouldn’t require a lot of time and I could do it whenever I wanted, right?

Now, almost four weeks into the summer session, there are a couple of myths I’d like to dispel about taking online courses, because I was certainly thrown for a loop. And though I’m back on track and used to the routine, I’d like to provide some much needed information for those who are thinking about taking online courses over the summer in the next four years.

Myth #1: The format is built so you don’t have to really put in any effort. Just turn in assignments and read occasionally, and discussions are optional.

Unfortunately, most summer classes make this statement falseOne of the perks of taking classes online, and over the summer, is that the class isn’t as long as a semester, usually squeezed into somewhere between 4-6 weeks. Logically, however, this means that all the information that would usually be covered over the span of a semester is crammed into this smaller time period, which means more information covered in a shorter amount of time. In addition, discussions are put in place because of the lack of face-to-face communication that you would normally receive within a classroom. This serves as a way to add a little more dynamic motion in your learning, instead of just sitting at a computer and gawking at a screen. Much more work is involved, and it’s your own responsibility to keep up with it so you don’t flunk out and waste your time (and money, tbh) on a class that was just a little more work than you’re used to.

Myth #2: I have all the time in the world to do these assignments, so I’ll just do them when I feel like it.

This statement has elements of truth, but for the most part, this is also false. Because of the nature of these classes and the professors that are taking time out of their summer to teach you, there are due dates that you need to follow in order to keep up with the pace of the class. Granted, a lot of classes have assignments due at 11:59pm, which theoretically gives you “all the time in the world” to finish them, but, just like normal classes, finishing your assignments before they’re due date saves you, and your professors, a lot of trouble. Summer is a time for enjoyment, and if I have to take an hour or two out of my morning to finish my assignments for the day, that’s going to make me feel a lot better when I want to go hang out with my friends for the rest of the day, and I don’t need to cut the party short to go watch a lecture on hurricanes.

Myth #3: I can contribute a minimal amount of effort to the class and still get a good grade. Everything’s online, so I don’t have a teacher breathing down my neck.

Again, I’m afraid I have to tell you that this statement is falseEspecially for a lot of online courses, the purpose of projects and group projects is to take the focus away from the computerized aspect of the course and add a little more communication with real people. Also, these teachers aren’t robots grading these assignments; many assignments are short-answer, so teachers can better grade students on their progress. So you can’t hide behind good grades on multiple-choice tests. It’s a normal class in a different format, so you should expect to behave the same way as you would if you were sitting in a classroom. (But let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that I don’t have to go to Ballantine ever again.).

Myth #4: You can use your notes on tests and assignments. Google is your friend.

Now, I’m happy to say that this statement is true. Normally, taking a class requires you to study and learn information over a longer period of time, which gives your brain ample amount of time to process it and put it somewhere in your mind where you can retrieve it while taking a test (I’m taking an educational psychology class right now so I know all about this stuff). Because of the shortened amount of time within the class, and the added online textbook option which is really saving me from lugging around textbooks everywhere, it’s expected that you have your notes and textbooks handy with you when you are taking a test or finishing an assignment. There also isn’t a teacher to tell you, “Close that tab! You can’t have your notes out during a test!” That is just absurd, given the nature of the course. Google is also your friend, and I’ve definitely had to research a couple of topics that I didn’t quite understand from the lectures and the textbook, and there is no harm in finding more resources to help you better comprehend a concept. As always, plagiarism is never tolerated, so trying to Google the question and find the answers on Quizlet is worthless.

I hope that I was able to dispel some of these myths for you, but I also hope that I haven’t driven you away from the concept of taking online courses. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s only an hour or two out of your day, Monday-Friday. That way, you can go out and enjoy your summer without having to sit through an entire day of classes. I did my homework on a sunny day in front of the Simon Music Library, took some notes from the text at the union, and watched my lectures at the Starbucks on Indiana where I had a chance to just hang out and do my homework, without the added stress of sitting in a class and feeling like I had no control over my work progress.

As always, thanks for reading! I encourage you all to take the opportunity to take some classes online, as it’s part of a new way of teaching, and I’m definitely all for it.

Miller Susens
Miller Susens

Music Education Major, Dallas, TX, Class of 2018

Yes, Miller is my first name. I prefer blue cheese bacon burgers on the first date and I'm pretty sure that I only own brown sandals. Lover of yoga, tumblr, pilates, fried chicken, sweet tea, and colors. Member of Alpha Gamma Delta (peace luv alpha gams). Cellist in the Jacobs School of Music. Native Texan. Very, very clumsy.

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