Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning

A new study by the US Department of Education (2009) entitled, “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies,” reports that:
Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.
The methodology for the study was a meta-analysis of 51 study effects, 44 of which were drawn from research with older learners. The study also found that:
Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.... [Moreover,] elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that students learn in online classes.
The report took care to note that more research is required before extending the implications of the study into education segments outside of adult learning, such as K-12 programs.
Educators making decisions about online learning need rigorous research examining the effectiveness of online learning for different types of students and subject matter as well as studies of the relative effectiveness of different online learning practices.
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