Around the world, much of the population faced its most significant education challenge when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted institutions to pivot to online learning.
Questions and pushback from students and faculty regarding the effectiveness of online learning rose among academic circles.
Is online learning effective? Will it provide quality education like an on-campus experience? Will these courses help move student learning forward?
While online learning cannot provide many of the informal social ‘interactions students have on campus, virtual education is now more accepted than ever as more individuals take on remote studies.
This article aims to answer how we got here. But before we get into why stigmas regarding online learning are slowly fading, let’s first look at common misconceptions about it.
Online education is easier and requires less work.
When online education initially became popular, questions and concerns were raised about its rigor as opposed to university classes.
Many students believe an online degree is easier to complete than traditional courses. However, this is far from the truth.
As students quickly realize, these courses are just as demanding and, in some ways, more challenging than face-to-face classes.
Instructors, especially those handling an online MSN-FNP program at Carson-Newman University, expect the same quality of work from virtual students as they would in face-to-face classes.
Moreover, they also assign the same number of assignments, but students are often required to complete them in a shorter amount of time.
This ensures that students will not lose out on any content. They have similar opportunities to learn the material and sometimes in a more interesting manner than with an in-person class.
The reality is not everyone can succeed in an online course. Success depends on several factors, but some of the most important ones are time management and discipline.
As you won’t have someone to remind you in person that an assignment needs to be completed by the following class period, it’s up to you to turn everything in on time.
Online degrees are not respected.
Another stigma about online degrees is they people think they are not valued, let alone respected, by employers and top business organizations.
However, more and more employers agree that for busy professionals who want to generate more career opportunities for themselves, online degrees are a reputable and flexible alternative to traditional academic programs.
But while it is easy to share anecdotal evidence of how an online degree is as respected as a traditional classroom-based experience, there is also a significant amount of research data to prove it.
According to the Department of Education, online students performed slightly better on average than those teaching the same educational material through face-to-face instruction.
Moreover, research shows that students will likely retain 25% to 60% more information when learning online.
If that’s not reason enough, a CareerBuilder survey further revealed that 83% of employers believe online learning provides quality education, similar to traditional on-campus experiences.
This is because online degrees concentrate more on helping students learn skills that can be applied in real-life scenarios.
Cheating is common in online learning.
Prevalent cheating is another previous misconception individuals have about online learning.
You cannot blame them, though. After all, what stops you from opening Google during an online examination if you are left in a room alone by yourself with your computer?
Surprisingly, this is not the case with online learning. Professors, universities, and colleges offering online courses have adopted clever ways to prevent this from happening.
Depending on your chosen academic institution, professors usually use powerful software to disable new browsers from being opened while exams are in progress.
In some cases, professors will ask you to download dynamic tracking software platforms to allow them to watch your every move during exams.
Although these tracking systems might not be foolproof, academic professors can also create tests that are not easy to cheat and require critical analysis related to the course.
Alternatively, other instructors have set exam periods to ensure there is little to no window for cheating.
Lack of interaction and camaraderie between students and professors
Little interaction with professors and classmates is another commonly held belief about taking online classes.
To put it bluntly, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Peer-to-peer learning is the core of online learning.
There are several ways to interact with other students, from discussion forums to group projects involving building wikis and presenting group projects using video conferencing tools.
Many online degree programs, particularly healthcare-related ones, require regular weekly interactions.
Based on your chosen online university, professors usually anticipate this issue by structuring their courses to ensure that it includes interactive aspects such as live lectures.
This way, students can get to know one another and ensure they get the most out of the class.
Online instructors also understand the importance of being in regular contact with their students and offer numerous ways to do so.
From Q&A forums to emails and chat and video conferencing apps, you can communicate with your professor, whether you need to ask questions on that week’s assignments or request a deadline extension.
It would be best if you were tech-savvy.
Technology is at the forefront of online learning, so it is not uncommon to be anxious about this, especially if you don’t have significant knowledge about recent technological advancements.
However, there is no need to worry. While you need basic technology skills, such as connecting to the internet and navigating a browser, many of the tools and programs you will be working with when learning online will likely already be familiar.
In addition, many online degree programs provide you with a wide range of links and tutorials in case you have questions or issues.
If that still sounds like it could be challenging, you can always turn to your instructor or other students when you encounter trouble with the activities or assignments your degree program requires.
How did we get here?
Now that we have established some of the most common misconceptions about online learning, let’s look at how these myths have been debunked and how online learning has become the new normal.
Necessity is perhaps the most significant reason online learning has been unanimously accepted among academic circles.
While the pandemic has altered the lives of everyone, it did not necessarily break people’s hunger for education and innovation, particularly those in the healthcare sector.
With over 115,000 healthcare workers dying during the pandemic, the need for nurses, doctors, and other medical practitioners becomes more apparent in preventing the next pandemic.
Data shows that in the Unly understaffed rural healthcare groups struggled to handle COVID-19 contact tracing.
With th in the United States next health crisis likely to happen in rural regions due to deforestation and novel pathogens, the urgent need for enough personnel within these communities is too hard to ignore.
Without skilled healthcare workers in rural regions, diseases can go undetected for months or even years.
To mitigate upcoming health crises, healthcare organizations need new professionals to fill up those vacancies and bolster the public healthcare workforce in rural regions.
With social distancing measures and most academic institutions closing due to the pandemic, many students interested in healthcare are now turning to online degrees to get their certifications.
Unlike traditional courses, online degree programs usually take as little as two years to complete, depending on your chosen university and courses.
This is because it allows you to learn and review course materials at your desired pace while still meeting curriculum requirements.
In doing so, healthcare organizations can fill employee shortages quickly and work towards catering to increasing patient needs effectively.
Rise of new technologies
To expand on the previous point, technology has also played a crucial role in disproving the stigmas surrounding online education. Opportunities for collaboration and communication between online students have expanded due to technology.
Technology has made it easier for online students to achieve similar experiences as they would in a traditional classroom setting, from productivity software tools to video conferencing applications.
Moreover, powerful technological advancements such as learning management systems (LMS) have made it easier for professors to track the academic progress of online students. Online colleges and universities use a dynamic LMS software tool to carry out educational initiatives and ensure effective learning.
An LMS platform supports academic courses’ management, automation, and distribution.
In short, it helps academic institutions have a centralized location for communication and a hub for delivering various training materials to their online students.
It is also geared with powerful features such as data analysis and reporting that empower professors and instructors to evaluate student learning and personalize the entire experience. By conducting adaptive quizzes and assessments that mirror the learner’s performance throughout the course, professors can tailor classes to prioritize improvement areas for each student.
Even before the pandemic, the cost has been among the primary factors for students choosing a college.
On average, the tuition fee for a public Division I university in the United States costs around $18,200.The costs could double or even triple if you want to study in a private academic institution with sufficient educational resources to bolster your learning.
With the pandemic prompting people to focus on basic needs, education often takes a backseat, especially for individuals with families to feed and support.
As many people realize the cost-effectiveness of online education and its overall reputation in the job marketplace, stigmas over it have started to die down.
Not only that, but there is also a wide range of scholarships available for online education these days.
In short, the monetary investment is less, but the results can be as good as or even better than the traditional option. This makes online learning an attractive option for busy professionals and individuals wanting to further their careers.
An increasing number of positive experiences
The increasing number of professionals who have successfully graduated online and made their mark in the workforce has also contributed to the acceptance of virtual learning.
Recent data shows that 21.3% of employees in the workforce have earned their degrees online or at least have taken an online course.
From constant engagement and communication to ease of access and lack of wasted time due to travel, many students have reported positive experiences when taking an online course.
In contrast to traditional education, online learning has prompted professors to give more frequent assessments, which can improve performance and overall student experiences. Furthermore, it helps academic instructors tailor their teaching based on student needs to ensure positive learning outcomes.
What to expect from an online degree program
Now that we’ve gone over the common misconceptions of online education and how these stigmas are slowly fading, you are likely wondering what you can expect from an online degree program, especially an MSN-FNP course.
Wide range of assignments and projects
The kinds of projects and assignments you can expect when taking an MSN-FNP course depend on your instructor and other factors.
In many advanced nursing classes, you’ll have access to group chat boards where you can ask relevant questions to a professor and other students.
Online nursing courses usually focus on statistical principles, epidemiology, and population health, so proctored evaluations are common.
In some other online universities, you will be tasked with capstone experience near the end of the online nursing program. This includes completing a thesis, a research project, and several exams.
Clinical rotations and residencies
Every online nursing degree program that is clinically focused will require clinical rotations and assignments at residencies where students can put their knowledge and skills into practice.
Many clinical rotations and residencies can be coordinated with healthcare facilities near your home.
However, some programs may require you to travel to rural locations determined by your chosen academic institution. That is why it’s important to review each program’s clinical rotation and residency requirements and the clinical placement process before deciding on an online university.
During clinical placement, you will practice in real-life situations with expert supervision, diversify your experiences and form essential relationships with potential employers, not to mention receive counsel from an accomplished mentor.
Multimodal learning experience
Nursing students will find the online learning experience to be multimodal and able to fit numerous learning styles.
Courses can occur simultaneously when the professor gives instruction, whether through an LMS software tool, a video conferencing app, or whenever it fits your schedule.
These courses may include several tasks, such as the following:
- Written examinations
- Scholarly writing
- Group projects
- Independent projects
- Case-study-based scenarios
- Online lectures
Through multimodal learning, instructors can engage students and improve overall learning quality.
For admission into an online MSN-FNP program, you will need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited National League for Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, a minimum GPA of 3.0, multiple letters of recommendation, and an active RN license.
MSN-FNP classes will also differ depending on the academic institution you choose to enroll in.
However, here are some courses you will most likely take when working towards an online MSN-FNP degree at Carson.
In this course, you will learn about advanced pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of common drug categories. This course will dig deep into the importance of high-quality, safe, cost-effective drug therapy for client care.
This course will tackle the different physiologic and pathologic mechanisms of disease. It will present and analyze these mechanisms based on the provision and management of client care at the advanced level.
Advanced Health Assessment
This course will talk about the comprehensive health assessment of the client. It also tackles the advanced application and synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and physiologic concepts as implemented in complete health appraisals of community groups, families, and individuals.
Research Methods and Design in Nursing
This course explores the quantitative and qualitative methods and the number of research designs useful in clinical research for health-related trends in healthcare delivery.
Advanced Primary Nursing Care for Adults
This course tackles the discovery and implementation of innovative nursing theory in providing a broad range of health promotion and care services for adults, such as the elderly.
Get your online degree today
Online learning is growing in popularity, and from the looks of it, it’s here to stay. You can take advantage of the benefits of enrolling in an online program today and start making a difference in the world.