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Brian Udermann, director of Online Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, thinks that proponents of distance education might not know all that they think they do about the subject. In a recent conference presentation, “Twenty Things You Should Know about Online Education but Might Not,” he illuminated some intriguing facts and fallacies designed to make participants better-informed advocates. Below are a few his findings.

Cheating: “There certainly is a perception among instructors that more cheating occurs in online courses as compared to face-to-face courses. However, this is not substantiated in the literature. The research I could find suggests cheating rates in online and face-to-face courses are almost identical,” Udermann says.

Instructor workload:
“Another topic that surprised instructors was the idea that it is not really more work to develop and teach an online course. I've seen survey research that between 60 and 70 percent of faculty believe that developing and teaching online courses are more work as compared to face-to-face courses. However, the studies I could find on this topic that actually quantified and measured work performed were very mixed with approximately a third of them suggesting that online was more work, a third of them suggesting that face-to-face was more, and a third of them suggesting there was no difference in developing and teaching online and face-to-face courses,” Udermann says.

Student achievement and satisfaction: “
I think many instructors are surprised to learn that both academic achievement and student satisfaction rates for online and face-to-face courses are nearly identical. There does appear to be a misconception among instructors that students don't like or are not satisfied with their online courses and students don't learn as much when they take a course online. Neither is true,” Udermann says.