Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Online Learning is in the News

Some people are linking to a new study and claiming that it says that a blend of online learning and face-to-face teaching is better than strictly face-to-face teaching. The study specifically warns against that. Take this post, for example. (Note: this is taken from a different site, which probably edited it somewhat. They might not have missed the caveats.)
Meta-Analysis Shows Online Learning Benefits
by ASCD Bloggers, Aug. 24, 2009
A recent meta-analysis of research comparing online learning with traditional classroom learning [pdf] showed that, on average, students performed better in online learning conditions as opposed to exclusively face-to-face instruction. Researchers found this effect was larger in situations that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face.
So I went to that study, helpfully linked and found the caveats in the abstract: "the positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se." and "the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education."

A glimpse at the executive summary shows: "The most unexpected finding was that an extensive initial search of the published literature from 1996 through 2006 found no experimental or controlled quasi-experimental studies that both compared the learning effectiveness of online and face-to-face instruction for K–12 students and provided sufficient data for inclusion in a meta-analysis. Extending the search through July 2008 identified just five published studies meeting meta-analysis criteria."

Well, that doesn't really fit the headline all that well, does it?

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