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Online education fact and fiction

As technology advances how we learn and interact socially is evolving.
As technology advances how we learn and interact socially is evolving.Photo by Nigel Treblin/Getty Images

I have been an online instructor for the past 5 years. In that time I have taught thousands of students both online and in traditional settings. There are some similarities and some glaring differences and each side has their pros and their cons.

The Myth is that online students are lazy, unprepared, and generally lack the work ethic to attend traditional schools. The truth of the matter is that online students choose to attend online schools for a variety of reasons. Some choose the school for convenience, because of jobs or family and some simply cannot make it to a traditional campus near them. In the past 5 years and countless semesters I have taught soap stars, Olympians, and more active duty soldiers than I can count. While I enjoy the students in those classes, I do not have the same connection that I have to my on campus children.

The other myth is that online students do not do their own work. This is simply not true. With advances in technology it is becoming increasingly more difficult to "buy" papers. In one school that I teach for every paper I receive must be sent through the student portal and the school checks every paper for instances of plagiarism.

As technology changes schooling has changed as well. The first year I taught on campus. Everything was done on paper, except the students final reports which were handed in on flash drives. Now even on campus papers are emailed. In my current term which starts next Monday, my students will receive video clips of the weeks assignments from me (an exciting and scary change).

Finally, unless you are attending your local community college's e-campus, this is not a cheap option. In addition to books or ebooks, you will need a computer and reliable internet connection. You are also paying for the privilege of attending school in your pjs (or less). Whichever option you choose, you should speak with the schools guidance counselor and research to ensure that there are employment opportunities in your field.