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.
Download Report


Anonymous said...

I am not totally convinced that online learning is the panacea many purport it to be. While it serves a finite purpose- I feel that there is much more to the learning process then online studies alone can provide.

Classroom peer interaction plays a crucial role in the learning process-

While online interaction shows better results then not having this element present, I believe that a student in the classroom has a better advantage with regards to the ENTIRE learning process then a student utilizing online media- even if the online media supports student-teacher interaction. The student-student interaction is missing and I feel this is a crucial element in the education process.

Palm said...

I think alot has to do with how you define learning per se.

If you're " learning" mathematics"-
the fundamentals surely can be learned either online or in a classroom.

If you eliminate the classroom student-student interaction and/or student-teacher interaction from the definition of learning you remove a key attribute of the entire learning process.

Sure, you can learn mathematics online- but in my opinion there are many components that need to be included when we define learning.

Elimination of the core classroom environment and associated interaction(s)that encompasses the ENTIRE learning process changes my definition of an educated person to some degree.

I know when I hire employees- I look differently at someone educated online vs. in a classroom.

No factual basis for this.

While two different people with the same degree in a given field may- on the surface- hold the same educational standards- I would hire the individual educated in the classroom before I hire the online candidate.

Sorry I deviated from the original post's context.

Gail Devoid said...

I earned my undergraduate degree in a traditional classroom. My masters and my Ph.D. degrees I gained in online environments. The points I would like to make:

1) I learned more in an online environment.
2) I learned more in the online environment that foster team projects, which required my intensive virtual interaction with classmates. This was at the University of Phoenix.
3) The speed of accessing materials, posts, downloads, etc. played a critical part in how much I could take away from the classroom.
4) Most importantly, the closeness of the relationships I developed with classmates and professors was intensified by the virtual environment. When you write to someone for two years, you form a much tighter bond than you do speaking with them. You also create the framework for continued contact subsequent to the dissolving of the class. I have very little contact with anyone from my undergraduate program. I still have regular contact with those from my graduate study programs.
5) The interpersonal skills I developed in the face-to-face environment are skills upon which I improved in the workplace. I lost nothing by learning in a virtual environment.
6) The written communication and virtual work and team skills I gained from online programs were NOT something that I learn in my workday. These are skills that are applied at work and give me a distinct advantage over my colleagues who have not had the opportunity to learn virtually.

7) All other things being equal, I would hire the online graduate over the face-to-face learner because I know his/her skill set is more robust.
Like most, however, I would make distinctions between what university or college the potential candidate attended. I would choose a graduate of UoP over Capella University because of the aforementioned teamwork required by UoP. I might choose a graduate of Harvard over a UoP graduate, but quick frankly, I consider the pros and cons to equal things out between those two.
You may disagree, but I have had the blessing of personally comparing the experiences of on-ground to online, as well as studying online learners for a decade.

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