The Myths of Online Learning

This past week I spent everyday immersed in an online learning institute, and I have come away from it with some great ideas for my own teaching and a new appreciation for what it means to be a teacher. I am however, still concerned about the myths of online learning and how many people disregard this area as an acceptable and even effective medium for obtaining quality education. The myths continue to abound online and in many other places, see this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education for more. I understand the trepidation among many of the naysayers because ultimately it has to do with fear or change from the status quo.

Empirical evidence is beginning to emerge that supports online learning in the literature and from personal experiences. I know there is also just as much support saying the opposite as there will always be. I guess the one thing that still boggles my mind is the notion that face to face classrooms are seen as better than online learning classrooms. I think the problem when people say that certain courses can’t be taught online is basically that they just don’t understand what technology is available to teach those courses online. The other thing is thinking about course development and design. Many of these individuals don’t know how to design a course for the online environment, partly because they don’t know about the technology that exits. There is so much in the way of Web 2.0 tools and resources available at institutions of higher education that make it much easier to teach online.

The more I sit and write about this the more I think this post is not about the myths of online learning, clearly because I haven’t hardly discussed any, but it’s about the individual belief of what’s possible. It’s also about the core values one has about teaching and those values being so rigid that they are unwilling to recognize that certain courses can be taught effectively online. Now don’t get me wrong, I still want my surgeon to have learned heart surgery in the classroom rather than completely online. But, many students don’t really learn their most effective skills in the classroom anyways. In social work, because again that’s where I am coming from, the signature pedagogy is Field education. Students don’t learn or master their social work skills in a few classroom sessions by role-playing them out with one another. Certainly they do get something from it, but ultimately their best experience and learning comes from being in a quality internship.

Okay, one last caveat for me 😀 What I am really hoping to get at here is the notion of how online learning is viewed. I feel that pretty much it is looked down upon, and there are many reasons for that. Yet, I also feel that when teachers/faculty hope to teach online, that there is this resistance and somewhat negative attitude from others who believe that it can’t or shouldn’t be done. Why is this happening? Why can’t others just allow the innovation and creativity to emerge without the hidden hostility, or maybe it’s not so hidden…

I don’t know, I mean I don’t only what to teach online because I fully enjoy interacting with students in the classroom. However, I know that I can also interact with them in an online class very similarly. How or what would that look like. Well that could be a completely different post so I will have to come back to that to say what’s possible in teaching social work education online. Wow what a great title!!!

What do you think, since I know many social workers are now stumbling upon this site, I welcome your opinion whether you believe or don’t believe in online social work education. The only thing I would say when commenting is to keep it civil, keep it clean, and be respectful. Thank you for your input.


About jimmysw
Associate Professor of Social Work with a focus on the Future of Social Media, Social Work Education and all things technology.

2 Responses to The Myths of Online Learning

  1. Good blog post, thanks for sharing.

  2. Chenee Marie says:

    Hi ,

    I’m an avid subscriber of your blog and I thought you might like this piece about ” 30 Myths About eLearning that Need to Die in 2013″. You can find it here: [


    Chenee Marie

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