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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Study Shows Potential of Online Learning

A new report found that college students using an interactive learning online (ILO) system with one hour of classroom instruction each week scored the same in standardized tests as students taking the same course through traditional classroom methods. Results from the study may lessen concern about students’ learning results when taking online courses.

“This method appears to have potential,” says Matthew M. Chingos, a senior research consultant for Ithaka S+R.  “I view this research as a proof of concept that at least one instance of a high-quality online course can produce equivalent outcomes, and hopefully future versions that are higher quality will do even better.”

In fact, students in the hybrid course scored slightly higher and devoted 25% less time to coursework, according to the report Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials. However, students also reported enjoying the hybrid course less than students taking the traditional class.

Chingos says he believes the ILO course lacked features students expected from an online course, which led to the lower score. He also speculated that better features would produce better results.

“If you could imagine a future version of a course like this, taking advantage of more addictive, interactive, exciting features, getting students even more involved in it, the hope is that in the long run, this won’t just produce the same outcomes in less time for less money, but will actually improve the quality of the educational experience,” he says.

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