Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Effectiveness of Online Education

Online students perform better than students receiving face-to-face instruction

A systematic search of research literature by the U.S. Department of Education identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened the studies and then conducted a meta-analysis. One important finding of the study was that, “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

This report holds special interest because online learning is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. Other conclusions of the study include the following:

  • “The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.”
  • “Inclusion of more media in an online application does not appear to enhance learning.”
  • “Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection. Studies indicate that manipulations that trigger learner activity or learner reflection and self-monitoring of understanding are effective when students pursue online learning as individuals”
  • “Providing guidance for learning for groups of students appears less successful than does using such mechanisms with individual learners. When groups of students are learning together online, support mechanisms such as guiding questions generally influence the way students interact, but not the amount they learn.”

The entire U.S. Department of Education report, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Leaning (2009) is available here.

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