Many view digital learning as a way to make it easier for students to be more successful while cutting the costs of education at every level. A new study from the National Education Policy Center, a research institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder, suggested that might not be the case.
The report found that despite all the hype and money spent on digital learning, it rarely improves student outcomes and costs more when it does. By comparing online-only learning with blended-learning methods where students used digital materials to prepare for class, researchers discovered the online-only course had no extra impact on learning. The flipped classroom, did improve learning, but cost more than traditional methods.
“On the whole, it is very difficult to have faith in the path we’re going down,” Noel Enyedy, a researcher from UCLA who helped conduct the study, said in an NPR report.
As one might expect, not everyone agrees with the findings.
“We have the best chance that we’ve ever had to dramatically improve achievement rates for students,” Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart and author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World, told NPR. “That’s me looking through the front windshield. It’s entirely possible to look through the rear windshield as this group did and say, ‘That was dumb, and it didn’t work.’”