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Myths About Online Learning

Woman talks to her daughter while working on her laptop

Online and distance learning has evolved significantly over the past decade worldwide–and especially at Boise State University. In Spring 2019, 48% of all Boise State students were taking at least one online class. As online education has changed and streamlined however, some misconceptions still exist. We’re here to bust these myths and misconceptions with the following six facts.

Myth: Online courses are self-paced.


Online courses follow a course schedule with regular due dates and deadlines. Although the anytime/anywhere access of online courses provides more flexibility than the scheduled classroom sessions of traditional courses, you can expect regular assignments and deadlines that will require you to stay up to date every week.

Myth: Online courses are “easier” than face-to-face courses.


Just because you’re learning online doesn’t mean your classes will be easy. While you will have more control over when and where you are doing your classwork, the curriculum and instructors for Boise State’s online programs are the same if not more rigorous than their in-person counterparts. Stay motivated, engaged and active in your online courses.

Myth: Online courses do not take as much time as face-to-face courses.


Students should expect to devote a minimum of three hours each week for every credit. For example, for a 3-credit course students can expect to spend at least 9 hours each week on coursework. Instead of physically going to a classroom for a set amount of time each week, you will spend that time participating in online activities, reading course materials and working on assignments.

Myth: Online courses are not as engaging as face-to-face courses.


Online courses can be just as engaging as traditional face-to-face courses — but in different ways. Online instructors have a variety of tools to foster and support online engagement. They may create voiceover PowerPoint presentations or videos to deliver a lecture, facilitate a discussion using an online forum or encourage group projects through a wiki site; the possibilities are endless. But just as with face-to-face courses, online courses require active participation to gain the most out of the experience.

Myth: Online courses are perfect for all students.


Online courses are not a good fit for everyone. The first question you should ask yourself before considering an online class is: “Why am I registering for this online course?” It can be challenging for some students to stay engaged and motivated in an online class. Understanding the reason why you are registering for online courses will help keep you motivated and increase your chances for a positive experience.

Myth: Online courses are all the same.


Just like a traditional face-to-face class, online classes vary by instructor, subject and program. You may notice some elements are the same–such as the discussion board, the way you turn in assignments, how you take an exam–but the content and delivery will vary slightly from course to course and instructor to instructor. What is the same, however, is the standard to which all online classes are held.

Learn More About Online Learning

Self-Assessment Survey

Assess your time management style, communication skills and comfort with technology in this Self-Assessment Survey to see is online courses are right for you.


Still have questions? Check out our list of frequently asked questions and answers. You can also connect with a member of our Student Success Team by calling (208) 426-5921 or emailing