Online and distance learning is growing in popularity as individuals are demanding a more flexible education. They need school schedules that can be easily coordinated with their career and a blooming social life. According to the research, 71 percent of students believe that this type of education can give them the flexibility they need to take more classes. Unfortunately, many people are still exceptionally hesitant about the idea of distance learning. Apart from the physical presence of a professor in the classroom, can students still be promised a great education?

It’s time to change the narrative of online and distance education for the better. Students can gain an excellent education and still feel the presence and aid of their professor. However, we have to know how to look beyond the things we see at first glance.

Falling for the Fallacy

We have always held college professors in high esteem because of their education and professional experience. Oftentimes, we tend to believe that their presence is the reason that so many students attain success. When you subtract the professor from the equation, it suddenly seems impossible for students to learn. This is sometimes referred to as the digital presence fallacy, and we must be willing to dismantle it entirely.

The physical presence of the professor can easily be exchanged for a digital presence that is equally productive. Developing this type of presence with distance and online learning can require a great deal of skill. It may be quite a learning process for professors, but that doesn’t make it impossible. When we understand that professors can be actively involved in the daily lives of students through online learning, we can stop falling for the fallacy.

Online Learning Needs to Adapt

One of the other main issues with online learning is that is hasn’t adapted. Most students sign up for online classes believing that they will be flexible enough to fit into their busy schedule. Once classes start, students suddenly realize that they can’t keep up with the workload because it is the same standard course length. Online and distance learning might want to consider extending the length of classes for students who need more time to complete the assignments.

Furthermore, few of these classes are meant for students to access on tablets or smartphones. Online and distance education should be ideal for on-the-go learners who are working their lessons in on the subway ride home or while they watch a child’s soccer practice. Instead, they are catered more toward computer users which makes the content difficult to access when students need it most.

Rewriting the Script

When it comes to online and distance learning, we definitely have a lot of room for improvement. We need to start by addressing our attitude toward this type of education and then adapt our methods to suit student needs. Until then, we are missing a great opportunity to reach students who might not otherwise be able to access higher education.


This article was originally written by Matthew Lynch and the original article can be found here.