Myths about online learning

Over the years online learning has been met with many different perceptions, or myths. Some may say that online education does not share the same rigour as traditional classroom-based learning. However, with the increase of online degrees, online education is becoming more mainstream as today’s students value flexibility to balance commitments as well as the opportunity to study from anywhere in the world.  

As a provider of online postgraduate programmes, we want to help you discover the benefits and opportunities of studying online with Liverpool. Therefore, in this post we will delve into five common myths associated with online education.

Myth 1: It’s not as rigorous as campus-based study

Our online postgraduate programmes are carefully designed and taught with the same rigour as our on-campus programmes. While studying online, part-time allows you a greater flexibility to complete your master’s degree around your other commitments, there is no difference in the level of qualification, or the ability and aptitude you need to earn it. Therefore, your award will state the name of the programme that you have completed without the reference to the mode of study, reflecting the equality of the online postgraduate degree at the University of Liverpool.

Throughout your chosen online master’s programme you will be expected to engage on a regular basis with the weekly module content and submit various tasks by the deadline. As the structure of our online courses has the same level of commitment as on-campus programmes, we expect our students to allocate 15-20 hours of part-time study per week to ensure you keep up with the reading material, written assignments and other activities such as discussion forums.

We also understand that many students who choose to study online are looking for a programme that will support their professional development. For this purpose, our online postgraduate courses gravitate around real-world scenarios and case studies, including sessions led by industry experts.

Myth 2: You’ll have to teach yourself the course material

At the University of Liverpool our online postgraduate programmes are delivered via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) allowing for interactive and engaging module content rather than a passive learning experience. The weekly module resources are provided in different formats including lecturecasts, reading lists and discussion forums.

In contrast to a standard pre-recorded lecture, a lecturecast encompasses a range of multimedia content that is broken down into smaller sections consisting of videos, tasks, reading pieces and quizzes, just to name a few. Lecturecasts are supported by extension activities, such as group debates or blogs, to allow you to engage thoughtfully and critically with the content.

As a student, you can navigate through the VLE to access your course materials at any time. The platform is designed to be responsive across tablet and mobile devices, allowing you to study on-the-go from wherever you have an internet connection. The online mode of study gives you the structure and resources required for the successful completion of your chosen online master’s degree.

Learn more about how the module of study is structured by reading our recent blog here.

Myth 3: You’ll have no interaction with peers and tutors

Due to the nature of online learning, you may be wondering what kind of engagement you may expect to have with fellow students, tutors and student support services.

All our online postgraduate programmes are designed to facilitate interaction with fellow students and develop an online community with your peers. Throughout your studies you will have the opportunity to engage with your lecturers and other students to discuss module content such as case studies.

In terms of peer-to-peer interactions, you will be able to participate in group projects, tutorials, and virtual social events. This will allow you to delve deep into the topics you study and build your international awareness by conversing with students from various parts of the world.

Myth 4: Online courses lack accreditation

We are proud to say that many of our online postgraduate programmes and department accreditations are gold standards in higher education, which is an ultimate reflection of the world-renowned research and teaching that the University of Liverpool provides.

The University of Liverpool Management School, for example, holds triple accreditation (AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS) which puts it amongst an elite group of business schools. Choosing to study any of our online master’s programmes means you can have confidence your qualification is meeting industry standards.

Learn more by visiting our accreditation page.

Myth 5: There isn’t enough support for online students

At the University of Liverpool, we are committed to supporting our online postgraduate students by providing access to specialist help, such as advice from our Student Support Team, Study Skills Team and Student Welfare Team, as well as resources such as career development, VLE technical support and eLibrary assistance.

Our students can get in touch with our advisors throughout their studies, whenever they require study guidance, wellbeing advice, disability support or help navigating the VLE. Additionally, throughout your modules you are encouraged to contact your module tutor if you have any academic questions. Your tutor contact information, including their office hours, is always available under the module home tab when you log in to your VLE account.

What does a module of study look like and how is it structured?

By studying online with the University of Liverpool you can not only obtain a postgraduate qualification from the original ‘redbrick’ university, you can also study from anywhere in the world. If you are considering one of our online master’s programmes but would like to know more about the aspects of remote learning, in this blog post we will dive into what you may expect from an online module of study. 

How might an eight-week module be split up?

At the University of Liverpool, we have structured the programme so that you can undertake one eight-week module at a time. Once you complete your two-week induction, you will enter the first week of interactive learning. Typically, the first week of each module takes the form of an introduction to the content that will be covered over the following weeks. You will be expected to engage on regular basis within the module and submit all assessed and non-assessed tasks by the module deadline. While we want our students to enjoy the delivery of the programme, we aim to ensure it remains rigorous. For this reason, we advise that you allocate 15-20 hours per week to study to ensure you absorb the programme content effectively.

Usually, each week introduces you to a new topic as part of the module scheme. The resources and your timetable are accessible through your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) account, where we have produced interactive materials to enhance your learning experience. Throughout each week, you will typically have an activity to complete to build on the knowledge you gained in the virtual class. In terms of working through the content and assignments set out on weekly basis, you will be able to create your own schedule and complete tasks at your own time and pace. While there may be occasional live sessions depending on your programme, these are normally recorded to ensure you can view the material at your own discretion in case you are unavailable to attend as we understand many of our online postgraduate students have other existing commitments.

Module Home Page VLE
Module Home Page
Virtual Learning Environment

What kind of interaction is there with a tutor or other students?

Over the course of your studies, and depending on your programme, your schedule may consist of both synchronous (live), and asynchronous (not live) sessions, where you will meet with your lectures and your peers to discuss module content such as case studies. Other interactions may include participating in group projects, tutorials, and social events to delve deep into the topics you study and share knowledge with peers from various parts of the world. Additionally, you will be able to socialise with your fellow students via the VLE messaging feature.

What sort of activities / assignments might be completed?

Even though you will be studying online, you are expected to undertake several rigorous assessed and non-assessed tasks. While most of your module material will consist of content that you will need to study in your own time, you will have lots of interactive activities, some with other students, and some with lecturers.

One of the key activities you will be required to complete each week is a lecturecast, which is similar to a standard lecture you would attend in a classroom. In this case, however, the lecturecast is broken down into smaller multimedia components as opposed to being a pre-recorded presentation. Components might include an introduction, individual topic aims, short tasks, infographics, multiple-choice questions, or check your knowledge activities. This multimedia material can also take the form of a short video, podcast or written case study. You will also be able to track the progress of each section of the lecturecast, allowing you to dip in and out of the material and complete it at your own pace.

Module Week 1 VLE
Module Week 1
Virtual Learning Environment

In addition to a lecturecast, you may find activities that are assessed and some that are not assessed. An example would be an assessed discussion forum, where you would select material topics to discuss in-depth with your peers and tutor. In some cases, such discussion forums would run over the course of a few weeks, where each week you would need to submit a written response and interact with your module peers. There are typically 20 students per module, ensuring the quality of teaching is maintained. In terms of tasks that are not marked, throughout each week you will carry out extension activities such as debates on relevant topics or reading relevant course resources from our online library.

Your final results are based on the coursework you complete as there is usually no need to take formal exams. As our aim is to prepare you to enter the professional environment, coursework may entail tasks you would be expected to complete in real life such as reports or presentations.

Student Dashboard VLE
Student Dashboard
Virtual Learning Environment

What support is available?

We are committed to supporting you during your online studies by providing access to numerous resources and advisors such as our Student Services Team, which consists of the Student Support Team, Study Skills Team and Student Welfare Team. Additionally, if you have any questions throughout your module, you can always contact your tutor either during any live sessions you have or via the Q&A forum; your tutor contact information is always available under the module home tab.

Depending on what type of support you need, whether it is academic, wellbeing or disability support, our team is on hand to aid you with any queries to ensure you are getting on with your programme comfortably. For instance, if you ever experience any circumstances which may impact your ability to study or submit an assessment by the deadline, you should get in touch with the Student Support Team as your first point of contact.

While the Student Support Team will be able to answer any general queries, for any matters regarding academic skills (such as planning assignments, using the online library, research or referencing), our Study Skills Team is there to offer the support you might need throughout your programme.

Additionally, if you need any help within the VLE, for example accessing your module resources, there is a live chat feature where you can speak with one of our student support advisors in real-time.

If you are wondering about whether you will gain access to our career resources as an online student, the answer is yes. All our online students are still University of Liverpool students, therefore, you will have equal opportunities in exploring career development through tutorials or CV support.

If you would like to know more about our online programmes, please get in touch with our Admissions Team.

What can I expect from my programme induction?

Studying our postgraduate programmes online provides a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is wanting to obtain a qualification from a high-ranking British university. A qualification that has the same standing in the UK as the master’s degrees received by students who attended on- campus courses.  

Regardless of whether you have studied online before or not, to ensure you get off to a successful start, you will have a chance to attend an induction prior to beginning any of our online master’s programmes.

What is the purpose of the induction?

The main purpose of the two-week induction is to familiarise yourself with using the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) so that you can become confident when it comes to finding resources and navigating your modules. Whether this is your first time studying online or not, the induction is an opportunity to not only settle into your online programme but also to meet virtually with the Student Support Team, the Study Skills Team, and your lecturers. This is also the time for you to truly engage academically so that you are able to make the most of the learning content throughout your online studies.

Who organises the induction?

The induction involves departments such as our Academic Team, Student Support Team and Study Skills Team. You will meet with each department during the induction and if you will need additional support the teams will be able to offer it to you. Additionally, prior to your course beginning, the Student Support Team will give you a 15-minute scheduled welcome call to discuss the details, confirm everything and answer any questions you may have.

As the induction is the time for you to get yourself acquainted with the VLE, it may seem daunting not knowing whether there is anyone you can turn to if you feel stuck in any way. Therefore, the Student Support Team will reach out to you several times during these two weeks to check in and ask how you are finding your feet. Needless to say, you will be able to contact your academic, support and study skills advisors long after the induction is concluded as we are committed to supporting you during your time with us.

What activities happen during the induction?

During the induction, you will be able to take part in numerous activities that will give you a taste of what it will be like studying your programme online. One of which is a live welcome session hosted by the Student Support Team. This will give you a chance to learn about key aspects of your course and the additional support available. As all our online postgraduate programmes are delivered through the VLE, the session will also cover a short introduction to the learning platform where you will access your module resources.

You will also have a chance to submit an induction assignment, as you would any other piece of work in the following weeks. The purpose of this activity is to identify your strengths and weaknesses based on the personalised feedback so that you can begin your first programme module with a deeper understanding of where you stand.

Other activities which you can participate in include quizzes, discussion forums, additional reading to academic writing resources, and many more, to keep you engaged throughout.

Do students meet each other during the induction?

The induction is the ideal time for you to meet students who will be studying the same course as you, giving you a chance to develop an online community with your peers. There are plenty of ways this can happen. For instance, you can socialise with your fellow students through the VLE messaging feature, as well as through various activities such as discussion forums.

If you have any questions regarding the induction, contact our admissions team.