Busting the myths of learning online
There are many different perceptions surrounding learning online, some could even be called myths. As a provider of online Masters courses we want to help you see through these and start looking at the opportunities learning online could provide you with.
So read on, and find out how the University of Sussex’s online courses could be the route to achieving your aspirations.
Myth 1: Lack of credibility of online qualifications
Some people have concerns that online qualifications do not carry the same value or quality as on-campus courses’. As a student at Sussex the qualification you’ll receive from your online Masters holds exactly the same credibility as our campus based courses. They’re taught by the same academics with the same academic rigour and in many cases a very similar, if not the same curriculum. Upon completion of the course, you’ll graduate with a fully accredited Masters from the University of Sussex and will be invited to attend our graduation ceremonies alongside campus based students.
Myth 2: Limited interactions with academics and peers
We often hear students are deterred from studying online as they consider it an isolated mode of learning and worry they’ll have little engagement with fellow students, faculty staff and student support services.
As an online student at Sussex you’ll join a global network of students, academics and practitioners. Online learning removes geographic barriers and allows busy working professionals to fit study into their lifestyle. You can expect to join a cohort from a diverse range of cultures and professional backgrounds, joining the course from all over the world.
To ensure you receive the collaborative and social learning experience of a Masters, our modules include group work and assignments and peer-to-peer learning. As well as lecturers and independent study you’ll join online discussion forums, project and seminar groups, working collaboratively and learning from one another. You’ll have regular contact from the courses academic team who are there not only to conduct your course, but support you through it. As an online student, you’ll also be given a dedicated Student Success Advisor, who will be your main point of contact for all non-academic queries during your time studying with us.
All students studying at Sussex are encouraged to play an active role in the learning and development of others by sharing valuable insights from their own work and life experience.
Myth 3: Quality of education and faculty teaching isn’t great
Some may question how an online course can deliver the same quality of education and student experience as an on campus equivalent? If you’ll actually ‘be taught’ by the world-leading academics or just receive some slides they’ve put together and be sent off to learn the subject by yourself?
At the University of Sussex our online Masters are developed and delivered by the same passionate and experienced academic team who teach on-campus. Courses are interactive and require students to actively engage with learning activities, contribute to group work and projects and join and lead discussions. As well as live lectures you’ll have regular contact with your academic team and module tutors who’ll guide you through the course.
We also understand that many students who choose to study online are looking for a course which supports their professional development and is relevant to their current or future job. Our Masters courses focus on real-world examples and case studies and include lectures and sessions led by industry experts.
Myth 4: There isn’t enough support for online students
Providing support to all our students, whether they are joining us on campus or online is one of our top priorities. Our specialist services for online students include dedicated Student Success Advisors who provide pastoral support throughout your time studying with us. They’ll help you with things like setting up and navigating the Virtual Learning Environment, keeping on track with your studies and reminding you of assessment and assignment deadlines. They’ll also be on hand to offer guidance around managing your finances and paying fees.
You’ll also have access to the University’s specialist services such as the Careers and Employability Centre, library and learning centre and student health and wellbeing.
Myth 5: Online learning means you don’t get value for money
A common worry for students, whether studying online or on campus, is how they will finance their studies. Some also raise concerns as to whether studying online provides the same kind of value for money as a traditional campus courses?
Our fees are structured to provide value for money and represent the quality of the course. As an online student you’ll receive the same academic rigour and expertise as students joining us on campus and equivalent support for the learning mode.
You’ll also benefit from the option to pay module by module, meaning you’re not required to pay a large sum at the start of the course, and if at any point you are struggling financially, you’ll have the option to take a break from the course and rejoin when you feel financially secure enough to do so*.
By studying online you also eliminate costs such as travelling to and from campus or on campus accommodation; and by choosing a course that fits around your career and life, you can continue to work and earn whilst you complete your Masters.
We are always open and transparent about our fees, so you’ll know exactly what your course will cost.
*N.B. a maximum break time does apply to courses.
Myth 6: It’s too difficult to motivate yourself when studying online
Juggling work and life commitments alongside studying for a Masters is challenging and takes motivation whether you are studying on campus or online. A concern we sometimes hear from applicants considering online courses is that without having to physically attend lectures and seminars how will they keep themselves focused and on track?
We believe a key part of being motivated, is being organised. As a Sussex student you’ll be invited to an induction module before the start of your course which is designed to help you prepare for their first few weeks of your Masters and plan your future study time. During the induction you’ll also be given access to an online study planner, which will help you manage your time effectively. The study planner is an interactive guide and will help you plan the week ahead and identify the best time to study around your job and other commitments.
Keeping your eyes on the ‘prize’ can also be a key motivator. We’ll provide you with an interactive graduation planner, which will map out your course, module by module, right up to your graduation date.
Our dedicated Student Success Advisors are also there to answer any queries during your time studying with us and part of their role is to offer guidance and support.
Myth 7: Online learning is dated
Our online courses have been designed to offer students the opportunity to study at Sussex from anywhere in the world. Our VLE is a specially designed virtual learning environment and acts as a digital alternative to the University of Sussex’s campus. It’s a one stop shop where your lectures and learning materials will be stored, where you’ll interact with fellow students and academics, attend live lectures of view recordings of classes and seminars on-demand, and find all the information you’ll need about your course. The VLE is easy to use, easy to navigate and accessible 24 hours a day.
The way we work is changing, businesses are moving with the digital age and need employees who are comfortable working in virtual environments and teams. Education is also shifting into this more flexible and current way of learning. By studying within a virtual environment, you can develop new skills and demonstrate your ability to work in an agile way, communicating with co-workers and working in teams across the world.
One of the key factors we consider when developing our online courses is the flexibility required by our students. As well as delivering courses via the VLE, allowing you to study when and wherever you like, courses are designed using a carousel module, with modules starting every two months. This means if you need to take a break from your studies at any time, you can simply ‘step-off’ the course and rejoin once you have the time to concentrate on your studies again.
Traditional online learning can conjure up images of clunky intermittent correspondence, with dated presentations and videos. But, we’ve come a long way since then. If you’re interested in finding out more about studying online with the University of Sussex and our unique Masters courses why not join one of our regular webinars. Sign up now and we’ll invite you to our next event.