Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, have found that online lectures are not really very good teaching tools. Ken Koedinger and his team studied results of nearly 28,000 students who took massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the Coursera platform and found that video lectures were actually the least effective way to learn.
Students who only watched the provided video lectures did the worst on the 11 quizzes and final exam given during the 12-week course. Those students who used a combination of reading and video lectures did only slightly better. Students who did nothing more than complete the interactive exercises used in the course did about the same as those who combined reading and watching the lecture videos.
“People have such strong intuitions about their verbal learning experiences: ‘I learn from listening to a lecture,” Koedinger said in an article that appeared in U.S. News and World Report. “It sure feels that way. But in fact, lectures do very little to change your brain.”
The study recorded every mouse click to calculate how often a student read a passage, watched a video, or completed an interactive exercise, according to the report. Findings from the report were presented by Koedinger at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Learning at Scale conference.
“We have all kinds of assumptions about what works in learning and education,” Koedinger said. “But what we find out, not just in this field, but in almost every field, is that when you put those assumptions to the test, they’re more often wrong than right.”