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Study: Online Learning Outcomes Similar to Classroom Results (U.S.News)

LenitusLenitus Registered User Posts: 5,420 Senior Member
edited August 2013 in Online Degrees
The perception of inferiority attached to online learning may not be warranted after all. A recent study comparing exam scores and overall pass rates between students in traditional and hybrid* formats yielded nearly identical results. The hope here is that online instruction could offer a cost-effective solution for universities who have seen sharp budget decreases in recent years.

Study: Online Learning Outcomes Similar to Classroom Results - US News and World Report


* "hybrid" refers to an online component with an hour of in-class instruction per week
Post edited by Lenitus on

Replies to: Study: Online Learning Outcomes Similar to Classroom Results (U.S.News)

  • emberjedemberjed Registered User Posts: 1,367 Senior Member
    That assumes that people will actually be motivated to learn online. I, for one, would unashamedly go on Facebook and play online games rather than my university's page - it's so easy to do so, after all - and would likely have grades that would reflect such behavior.
  • Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder Posts: 106,392 Senior Member
    Many colleges don't care if you show up for class as long as you submit assignments and pass the tests. A student who lacks discipline can fail in-person classes, too. Presumably, good online courseware allows the prof to monitor participation and other metrics.

    Everyone learns differently, of course. I tended to be a book learner in college - the lectures didn't help much, but if I read the book and puzzled it out on my own I'd get it. I knew other students who found the book impenetrable until the prof went through the material in person.
  • Lily2015Lily2015 Registered User Posts: 255 Junior Member
    Ehh, I think the potential is there to learn just as much as in the classroom, but I took my first online class a few months ago. Economics. Should have been intense but because it was online we could use our book for everything. The professor attempted to proctor the midterm and final with Skype, but anyone could have easily had their book beside them.

    So if you're measuring the amount of actual learning going on, the potential is around the same. But if you're measuring strictly grades I'm sure 80% of the people in the class got an A and the other 20% could have if they hadn't skipped the final!
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,143 Senior Member
    I wonder if this study suffers from poor methodology/execution. I only read the study protocols for the first 3 of the 7 departments, but all 3 had issues with assessments. In the first department, the curriculum of the classroom course emphasized different topics from the curriculum of the online course, leaving students underprepared for the common final exam. In the other 2 departments, students took different exams.

    That being said, I would not be surprised at all if hybrid online classes worked better for lecture classes than traditional lectures. Online classes have the advantage that they can be interactive: students can be prompted to do exercises right when they are first exposed to the material. Lectures, in contrast, are usually very passive. Add a bit of classroom time with an instructor who can motivate the material and answer questions, and students have everything they need to succeed.
  • youknowme123youknowme123 Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    Many people play games and go on facebook in college already. If you can't self motivate yourself than you are probably not doing your greatest in college.

    With that said, I still feel the classroom is the better option for now for most. If you treat online classes like you would a normal class than the results gained would be about the same. I feel like 80% of my learning is outside of the classroom.
  • bn12ggbn12gg Registered User Posts: 519 Member
    Any student wishing a letter of recommendation for graduate or professional school might want to take sufficient face to face (traditional) classes so the professor gets to know them. It will be a cold day in hell when I write a recommendation letter for an electronically/web based individual who I have never had significant in person contact.

    .02
  • aigiqinfaigiqinf Registered User Posts: 4,032 Senior Member
    I think the issue is less with the format of the course than it is with who offers the course and what that organization's motives are.
  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom Registered User Posts: 1,378 Senior Member
    bn12gg, I understand your concern, but there are ways for an instructor to get to know the students in an online class as well as in-person. If anything, a hybrid model might make better use of your time so that you could get to know your students better.

    It is not attendance in a lecture that allows you to know that student, but his interactions with you. In an online class, that same student might converse with you via email, or blackboard, or possibly by phone. Yes, it is possible for someone else to pretend to be that student online, but that is possible in person too. Do you check each student's ID when they enter your class?

    If a student is requesting a recommendation for grad school, I would him to have made the effot to get the instructor, no matter the format of the classes.
  • brinamariebrinamarie Registered User Posts: 48 Junior Member
    Attending any class, online or in person, is an educational tool. There are many learning resources out there. I have attended classes on campuses, and have taken online courses through the same schools. The only students who will succeed in either environment are those who are willing to put forth the effort to really learn the material. Students who attend online classes are at a slight disadvantage. They should seek opportunities to apply their knowledge in real-life environments, when possible. Whether it is volunteering, internships, or in a working environment. This is particularly important for students who seek to attend graduate school. That said, students who have enough motivation to do so can be looked upon as favorably as an applicant from a school with a physical campus.

    Students who are working adults who attend online universities may not have the time to pursue such opportunties. These individuals must be motivated to do well, and to find other ways to set themselves apart.

    Employers can respect that there are adults who have families, have responsibilities, and who are trying to pursue a higher education.
  • Davidabb84Davidabb84 - Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    Many colleges don't care if you show up for class as long as you submit assignments and pass the tests.
    Correction. Many professors don't care if you show up for class. Professors generally create their own attendance policy, and they can vary widely.

    Notice the types of online classes used in the article. These are public (but more importantly, not-for-profit) colleges that exist on an actual physical campus with a library and qualified faculty. Lest anyone think that this article suggests signing up for the University of Phoenix is a good idea.

    I've recommended online programs from reputable, "brick and mortar" institutions to many people on internet discussions and even in real life. My aunt will soon be starting a hybrid program at UNC-Greensboro to get her master's in educational leadership. Meanwhile, she will continue to work and can be at home raising her children. Online education is a legitimate option, but I always recommend people stay away from blowing their money on for-profit "colleges."
  • rrahrrah Registered User Posts: 1,657 Senior Member
    First, this information is about hybrid courses which differs from fully online learning (or elearning). Second, this is old info.

    I've experienced online learning as a graduate student very recently. I also currently develop online and hybrid courses for grads and undergrads at two different colleges. One is a more traditional, small private. The other has existed for over 100 years as a career type college, but it does offer 4 year degrees.

    As I tell the faculty with whom I work, the most important thing is interaction between the prof and students and between students. Those colleges that adopt a learning management system that allows for maximum interaction, including live video/audio interaction, will offer the best courses and be ahead of the curve. Both colleges for whom I do work do not offer video/audio interaction, and I often wish they did. They do offer a chat room, but it is not the same.

    It is also important that assignments relate to real life. This includes group projects. I did not always enjoy doing group projects in my own classes, but I also realized that it is very realistic as to how many people work today. Co-workers are located around the globe.

    As to the poster that indicated online students are at a disadvantage, I disagree. As I said, I recently completed a graduate level certification from a major public university online. The work that I did in those classes certainly was real life in nature. The projects I completed required I work with actual clients doing "real life" types of activities those in my field do frequently. I worked with a major professional society, a large non-profit in another state, and a department in my city. As I recently entered a "sort of" new to me field, those projects landed me multiple jobs during and while completing my program.
  • samsw12samsw12 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    The last six months has seen the beginning of a global revolution in online learning with the creation of Coursera, Udacity and edX. I have put together a short video called EPIC 2020 which predicts the demise of the traditional higher education system. It is hosted on the web site epic2020.org which provides a wealth of information on various free world class on line programs.
  • Der72033Der72033 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Decades ago I worked my way thru college and have long recalled the pleasure of attending school. . . But with tuitions and college expenses blowing out of sight the consequence of attending college now has the burden of decades of debt.

    Online done well can avoid those costs. . .you can actually begin college studies for free today. It's also possible to obtain your degree at a fraction of the cost most students have to pay. . . In my opinion when the alternative is not possible (attending college) then Online is a no brainer for getting a degree.
  • Der72033Der72033 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Online studies are making daily strides in helping students achieve an accredited degree without burdensome debt.

    Today a student can begin their College Studies for free. . . New elements like MOOCs and ACE are developing solutions that can help bring the cost of college to a fraction of what most students are now paying.

    The question should not be whether Online is good or bad. . . rather how do I get a quality degree for under $5,000. . .The path is there just waiting to be followed.
  • jbrynsvoldjbrynsvold Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    edited February 2014
    It's definitely worth it to get an online degree from a real college. For example, you can get a degree at an accredited online college for less than $30,000 total (all 4 years). That's a pretty good deal when you consider you make about $13,000 more than the average worker if you have a bachelors degree. Just something to consider!
    Post edited by Lenitus on
This discussion has been closed.