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Study Finds that Online Education Beats the Classroom

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Students' performance in online education settings tended to trounce that of those receiving face-to-face instruction, according to a study SRI International carried out for the U.S. Education Department. The study analyzed the comparative research on traditional versus online education over a 12-year period, with the bulk of the studies done in colleges and various adult continuing-education programs.

The report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses, and an analysis determined that students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance on average, versus the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile.

Lead study author Barbara Means says the report indicates that online learning often outclasses traditional instruction, and the report suggests that online education could experience sharp growth during the next several years. Experts say the real promise of online education is delivering learning experiences that are more customized to individual students than classrooms, which facilitates more learning by doing.

Philip R. Regier, with Arizona State University's Online and Extended Campus program, expects continuing education programs to exhibit the most growth in the near term, and he also predicts that online education will continue to gain ground in the transformation of college campuses. Regier says the growing use of social networking technology will hasten the evolution of online learning into a model where students help and teach each other by creating new forms of learning communities.

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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