Current Issues

Online learning a proven success

Posted on June 29, 2009

A new Department of Education study concludes that online learning often produces better student outcomes than traditional face-to-face instruction and that hybrid learning is better yet than either alone.

You can find the study at: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf. (Thanks for alerting me, Bob Seidman.).

There’s a lot of poorly done online classes out there in the market and there is still magic in a well delivered face-to-face class. Even that most maligned of teaching styles, the lecture, can be wonderful when that rare, mesmerizing lecturer holds an audience rapt.

That said, the best designed online learning classes have for some time embodied the ideals within learning theory: student-centered; media rich, constructivist and collaborative; a lot of instructor feedback offered in a timely fashion. In addition, the online course environment offers tools that simply aren’t available in a traditional classroom.

Is this praise for online learning a backwards slap at the traditional classroom? Not at all.

It is just that we have reached a point where we have shifted from “How can online learning emulate traditional face-to-face learning?” to “How can traditional face-to-face learning take back into the classroom the best attributes of the online learning environment?”.

The back and forth interaction of the two modalities strengthen both.

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