A steady growth in online learning is not only evident at Berkeley College. A 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board revealed that the number of students in the United States taking at least one online course had surpassed 6.7 million. Yet, despite its growing popularity, there are still common myths about the validity of distance learning.
Myth 1: Undergraduate students do not have the skill set or discipline to handle the rigor of online classes.
Fact: Reputable institutions using best practices will evaluate a student’s skill set before enrolling him/her into an online program. “At Berkeley College, the Road to Success in Online Learning course is a prerequisite to registering for online courses,” said Carol Smith, Assistant Provost, Online. “It is designed to evaluate and determine students’ motivation, commitment and ability to function effectively in an online environment. Students who do not pass this course cannot enroll in the College’s online program.”
Myth 2: Faculty who teach online courses are not subject to the same kind of teaching evaluation as those who teach face-to-face courses.
Fact: Faculty who teach online are evaluated more often than faculty who teach onsite. At Berkeley College, all faculty are evaluated by students through an evaluation process that occurs twice a year. In addition to the student evaluation process, all faculty who teach online are evaluated once a year by chairs and seasoned faculty peers. In addition, all online courses are reviewed for compliance and effective practices prior to the course being taught and during the quarter in which it is being taught.
Myth 3: Faculty who teach online courses are not trained to teach online.
Fact: All faculty who endeavor to teach online at Berkeley College go through the Online Faculty Training Program, a robust, quarter-long training. Faculty are mentored and supported throughout the quarter in the preparation of their courses by online chairs, instructional designers, and the Assistant Provost, Online. “Our online courses are taught by credentialed content experts who bring real-life scenarios into the online classroom environment,” Ms. Smith said. “Course instruction includes a mix of multimedia and text-based lectures, discussion and various assignments to encourage student engagement, participation and learning.”
Myth 4: You cannot receive the same level of education in an online environment as you can on-site.
Fact: Accredited online programs are subject to the same rigorous standards as on-site programs. Berkeley College Online is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, Berkeley College Online is one of only a handful of institutions worldwide to receive USDLA/QS certification for excellence in distance learning.
Myth 5: Online students don’t have access to faculty or support services.
Fact: Berkeley College Online students can email faculty at any time, and they have additional access to instructors through discussion groups established for individual courses. In addition, distance learners at Berkeley College have access to the same support services as on-site students, including Advisement, the Academic Support Center and Career Services.
Myth 6: Online students miss out on peer interaction.
Fact: Engaged online students benefit from more interaction with faculty and other students. “In a traditional classroom there is not enough time to get input during discussion from every student, whereas in the online world, everyone has a say. Input is written, but everyone has a voice,” Ms. Smith said.
Eric DeJonge, who transferred from a community college to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Management through Berkeley College Online, doesn’t feel as though he missed out on the classroom experience as a distance learner.
“I actually found that pursuing my degree online was more rewarding," said Mr. DeJonge, who graduated in 2009. “A greater number of students participated in online discussions and that made the discussions more interesting.”
Myth 7: Online students miss out on a sense of college community.
Fact: Berkeley College Online campus life experiences include social media engagement, wellness and personal development programs and virtual workshops that focus on student success. Distance learners also can participate in numerous online clubs, including a book club, the Healthy Café, the Parent Club or the Student Government Association.
“Other online students provide a great support system. No matter what time you log on you are almost always likely to get in touch with other students,” said Ladilvia “Sabrina” Lee, a mom who took most of her courses as an active-duty Marine stationed in Japan, and graduated in June 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. “I connected with other students who had children and they were a wonderful support as I pursued my degree.”