A new study reported that using online content in the classroom does boost productivity and student results. The 18-month study by the research firm Ithaka S+R compared the use of digital course materials provided by massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera, the Carnegie Mellon University Online Learning Initiative (OLI), and Pearson.
The study, Online Learning on Campus: Testing MOOCs and Other Platforms in Hybrid Courses in the University System of Maryland, looked at how faculty members used the different platforms and how students responded. It found a few more students passed and received slightly better final grades in the hybrid classes than students in traditional classes. The study reported similar results for students who were at risk academically.
However, faculty members said the online material didn’t always work well with the way they had set up the class. Some students failed to see how the material related to classroom instruction, while others retained less information from video lectures watched on their own time.
“One key takeaway is that careful planning for the implementation of new course formats and technologies is absolutely critical, and the results of any individual test are influenced by a large variety of factors that have nothing to do with the technology,” the authors of the report wrote. “Course redesign can take several iterations to fine-tune as platforms get better and instructors grow more comfortable with the technology.”