Seven myths about elearning programs

Posted by Greten on 05 Jul 2023 under Theories, Tips

Elearning has gained popularity as a flexible alternative to traditional classroom education. However, several misconceptions persist regarding eLearning programs. This entry will debunk seven common myths surrounding elearning. It will explore the misconceptions related to academic rigor, time management, quality standards, the role of instructors, interaction and community, cheating, and accessibility as they relate to elearning programs.

By dispelling these myths, you will better understand elearning's true nature and benefits.

Myth 1. The quality of elearning is lower than traditional learning

Contrary to what some people believe, elearning courses are not inherently of lower quality or held to lower standards than traditional courses. While it is true that there may be poorly designed courses, the same can be said for classroom learning programs as well. In fact, many elearning courses undergo a rigorous design process to ensure they meet high standards and incorporate best practices for effective online learning.

A pharaoh using a laptop in the style of ancient Egyptian muralThe ways readings, lectures, exams, and other components are delivered to learners are carefully evaluated. Elearning programs use strategies and technologies that promote engagement, interaction, and effective learning outcomes. Instructors in elearning courses know the challenges and unique characteristics of the online learning environment. They can adapt their teaching methods to engage learners effectively and foster meaningful interactions. Through various online tools and platforms, instructors can facilitate discussions, provide timely feedback, and create opportunities for collaborative learning among learners.

Moreover, elearning courses often incorporate multimedia elements, interactive exercises, and real-world applications to enhance the learning experience. These elements are carefully designed to promote deeper understanding of the subject matter. Institutions offering elearning courses also have quality assurance processes to ensure that the courses meet rigorous standards. Course materials and assessments undergo reviews to maintain a high level of educational integrity and to ensure that learners receive adequate instruction.

The quality and standards of an elearning program depend on various factors, such as the expertise of the instructors, the instructional design, and the technological infrastructure supporting the course. When designed and implemented effectively, elearning courses can provide learners with a high-quality learning experience comparable to traditional classroom learning.

Myth 2. Elearning is less challenging than traditional classroom learning

The process of learning any topic or any skill is in itself a challenge. Suppose you find yourself coursing through an elearning program without any challenge. In that case, you are either already an expert in what you're studying, or the elearning program is poorly designed, from which you might not learn anything. Learners venturing into elearning should be prepared to encounter courses of similar rigor to their traditional in-person counterparts. Regardless of the financial investment involved, learners need to expect and receive valuable education that challenges them to expand their knowledge and skills.

One of the unique hurdles of elearning revolves around self-motivation and efficient time management. Without physically present instructors or classmates, learners may experience a false sense of detachment and a higher tendency to procrastinate. Succeeding in online courses requires staying motivated, establishing clear goals, and effectively managing time. Individuals who thrive in structured, face-to-face learning environments might find the lack of external motivation particularly challenging.

Myth 3. Elearning requires minimal to no time management

Effectively managing time becomes a critical factor in achieving success in elearning. Unlike traditional classes that often provide reminders and fixed schedules, learners are responsible for submitting assignments and actively engaging with course materials. This demands discipline and organizational skills to ensure tasks are completed promptly. However, elearning offers flexibility, allowing learners to access course materials at their convenience. This adaptability caters to individual preferences, accommodating those who are more productive in the morning or prefer studying late at night.

Bronze or gold clock with several cogs.

Elearning courses are often offered in shorter duration compared to traditional classroom courses. However, this does not mean that the workload is reduced proportionally. The misunderstanding lies in assuming that less time is required due to the shorter duration. Elearning courses often maintain the same level of assignments, readings, and lectures as their traditional counterparts but are condensed within a compressed schedule. Learners must dedicate ample time to cover the course material within the given timeframe.

Opposite the assumption that elearning courses have an easier workload due to their short duration is that they can be completed without a time limit. While self-paced courses were once prevalent, the landscape of elearning has changed. Many elearning courses are now integrated into structured learning programs and operate within specific timeframes, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Failing to complete the course within the designated timeframe can result in negative consequences, including a failing grade. Learners must be aware of the course duration, workload, and their own time commitments before enrolling. Seeking insights from those who have taken the course before can provide valuable information for making informed decisions.

Myth 4. Elearning is solely a self-learning endeavor

Related to the assumption that elearning is entirely self-paced is the belief that it is solely a self-learning endeavor. While it is true that learners are not physically present in front of their instructors, it doesn't mean that they are left to navigate their educational journey alone. Of course, some learners might need minimal interaction with the instructor and might thrive learning in such a manner, making their experience closer to self-learning.

Instructor engagement is crucial for a successful elearning experience. Facing challenges or needing clarification is a normal part of the learning process, and it's essential to have avenues for reaching out to instructors. Fortunately, most online instructors recognize the importance of maintaining regular contact with their learners and provide multiple communication channels. Instructors are there to support learners such as answering questions about the course content, assistance with accessing materials, or providing extension to a deadline if reasonable. They understand the significance of being available and responsive to learners' needs. Through email, Q&A forums, virtual office hours, and regular announcements, instructors create an environment where learners can easily connect and address any concerns or queries.

Furthermore, the role of instructors in elearning goes beyond just delivering content. They have the responsibility of guiding learners throughout their online learning journey. Instructors put extra effort into creating well-structured syllabi, organized units, and clear assignment instructions. They ensure that learners receive proper guidance and understand the subject matter. In turn, learners also play an active role in their elearning experience. Just like in traditional classroom settings, learners must proactively seek clarification when something is unclear. They can ask questions, participate in discussions, and engage with course materials to enhance their understanding.

The myth that elearning is a pure self-learning endeavor overlooks the valuable role of instructors in online education. It undermines the efforts they put into designing and delivering quality instruction and their commitment to supporting learners. Elearning is a collaborative process where learners and instructors work together to achieve educational goals.

Myth 5. Elearning provides no interaction within the learning cohort

Contrary to popular belief, elearning platforms leverage technology to enable various forms of communication and foster interactions among learners. Through various tools and applications, learners can engage in face-to-face conversations across distances and collaborate seamlessly with their peers. This technology-driven connectivity transcends physical boundaries and enhances the learning experience.

Learners are encouraged to actively participate in the course forums to express their thoughts, share insights, and engage in discussions with their classmates. These forums often serve as a platform for meaningful exchange of ideas, where learners can gain valuable perspectives from their peers. The written format of these discussions allows for thoughtful expression and encourages a deeper level of reflection.

Zeus using a laptop while surrounded by clouds and lightning.

Elearning courses recognize the importance of peer-to-peer learning and provide ample opportunities for learners to interact with other learners. Collaborative projects, group assignments, and peer reviews are common components of elearning programs. Learners can engage in group work, create wikis, and present assignments using web conferencing tools. These activities foster collaboration and enable learners to learn from one another, broaden their horizons, and develop essential teamwork skills.

Engaging with peers in elearning goes beyond academic collaboration; it also contributes to forming a supportive learning community. Learners forge connections, build relationships, and create a sense of belonging by frequenting discussion forums and actively participating in interactive activities. The online learning environment facilitates diverse perspectives and encourages an inclusive community where everyone's voice can be heard.

Myth 6. It is easier to cheat in an elearning program

The misconception that cheating is more common and easier in elearning classes is understandable. It's easy to assume that the online format provides ample opportunities for individuals to exploit readily available resources. However, no solid evidence supports the claim that cheating occurs more frequently in elearning than face-to-face classes.

One way to prevent cheating is to design assessments to maneuver rather than outright prevent typical cheating methods. For example, instead of looking for ways to prevent students from opening their notes during exams, just let everyone open their notes and design the assessment to focus more on higher-order thinking skills and less on rote memorization. In contrast, others opt for alternative evaluation methods like projects or portfolios. Regardless of the approach, instructors and course designers prioritize ensuring the integrity of learner accomplishments.

Some instructors actively take measures to uphold the integrity of their elearning courses using methods that can be considered unethical or have questionable results. One example is using AI writing detectors to check if a student used AI to write their essay. These tools tend to produce many false positives and should not be used to determine students' guilt. Another example is employing a system of several cameras in the learner's study room, which was used by several universities during the height of the pandemic. Such a method is very unethical as it infringes on students' privacy while simultaneously telling them their instructors cannot trust them not to cheat.

Myth 7. You need to be technologically savvy to take an elearning course

Technology has become an integral part of our lives in today's digital age. From ordering food to staying connected with friends, we rely on user-friendly platforms and tools to simplify our daily tasks. Similarly, elearning has embraced this technological wave, offering accessible and engaging educational opportunities. However, there is a common misconception that one needs to be technologically savvy to embark on an elearning journey.

Regarding elearning programs, it is true that having basic technology skills is helpful. Connecting to the internet and navigating a web browser are fundamental requirements. But here's the good news: many tools and programs used in elearning have familiar features encountered in everyday digital interactions. They are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, making the online learning experience accessible to learners of all backgrounds.

Sun deity Apolaki inside a datacenter

Moreover, elearning courses often provide resources to support learners in their technological journey. Tutorials and documentation are readily available to assist learners in familiarizing themselves with the platform and tools. These resources serve as valuable guides, addressing common questions and providing step-by-step instructions. Instructors also play a crucial role in supporting learners' technological needs. They understand that not all learners come into the course with advanced technology skills and are there to help.

Furthermore, the online learning environment fosters a sense of community and collaboration. Learners can connect with their instructors and fellow learners, creating a support network beyond technological assistance. Instructors and peers are always ready to lend a helping hand, offering guidance and support when learners encounter challenges with assignments or course activities. The online learning community thrives on mutual support and shared learning experiences.

Elearning is not about being a tech expert; it's about embracing the opportunities that technology provides to enhance our educational journey. Elearning courses can be designed to be inclusive and accessible, catering to learners of all backgrounds and technological abilities. By leveraging the resources available, such as tutorials, documentation, and the support of instructors and peers, learners can confidently navigate the digital landscape and excel in their elearning endeavors.


It is vital to debunk the misconceptions surrounding elearning programs. This entry has revealed the truth about elearning's challenges, the importance of time management, the quality assurance process of elearning courses, the role of instructors, interaction and collaboration among learners, the potential for cheating, and the accessibility of technology. By dispelling these myths, there can be more opportunities for learners to engage in online education confidently.

Elearning is not an easier path; it demands self-motivation and effective time management. They can also be as rigorous as traditional classrooms. Quality is not compromised in elearning; meticulous design processes and trained instructors ensure an enriching educational experience. Instructors play a crucial role in elearning by providing guidance and fostering engagement.

Interaction and collaboration thrive in elearning, facilitated by technology and a supportive community. Cheating is not more prevalent in elearning, and instructors can modify course requirements to minimize it. Lastly, technological literacy is not a barrier; elearning platforms are designed to be user-friendly, and support is readily available.

Elearning has revolutionized education, providing flexibility, accessibility, and a vibrant learning environment.


Flavin, B. (2019) "8 myths about online learning: the truth behind the screen", Rasmussen University, retrieved 5 July 2023

York, J. (2017) "10 common misconceptions about online courses", Illinois Online, retrieved 5 July 2023

Last updated on 05 Jul 2023.

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