Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Online Learning is Better?

Jonathan Kaplan in the Chronicle of Higher Ed notes a recent study that indicates that online education can be more effective than traditional forms of learning. In fact, the study based on 12 years of educational studies, shows that "online learning has clear advantages over face-to-face instruction."

He then goes on to wonder about the apparent lack of discussion and commentary about this report and suggests that would have been different if the report confirmed educators preconceived notions and bias' about how learning happens (Chron):
But imagine for a moment that the report came to the opposite conclusion. I’m sure that if the U.S. Department of Education had published a report showing that students in online learning environments performed worse, there would have been a major outcry in higher education with calls to shut down distance-learning programs and close virtual campuses.

I believe the reason that the recent study elicited so little commentary is due to the fact that it flies in the face of the biases held by some across the higher education landscape. Yet this study confirms what those of us working in distance education have witnessed for years: Good teaching helps students achieve, and good teaching comes in many forms.

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