Thursday, October 8, 2009

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning

Via Clive Shepherd & Donald Clark

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning (819KB, PDF)

You might die from boredom reading this report from the US Department of Education. Please get Steve Jobs involved for the next report. I suppose it could have been simplified and presented in a more creative, visual, and mind (or eye) stimulating way.

Luckily, Donald Clark has swooshed out some of the juice, which is replicated right here...
  • "Online better than face-to-face
    “The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving traditional face-to-face instruction.”

  • Jury out on blended
    “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.

  • Online and on-task
    “Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning.”

  • Online is all good
    “Most of the variations in the way in which different studies implemented online learning did not affect student learning outcomes significantly.”

  • Blended no better than online
    Blended and purely online learning conditions implemented within a single study generally result in similar student learning outcomes.”

  • Junk video & quizzes
    “Elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that students learn in online classes.”
  • Let learners learn
    “Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.”

  • Online good for everyone
    “The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.”

  • Get them doing things
    “Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.”

  • Groups not way forward
    “Providing guidance for learning for groups of students appears less successful than does using such mechanisms with individual learners.”

..."One should note that online learning is much more conducive to the expansion of learning time than is face-to-face”. In other words it’s better at getting learners to continue learning after the event. What more can you ask for?"

If you ask me, I would argue that all this whoa about delivery methods is not the real essence to effective learning, instead we should focus more on the actual actors in the learning events: Educators and Students.

If your educator or learning facilitator is crap, it does not matter what method you use, the outcome is probably going to be crap. But then again, if you are a die-hard learner, it does not really matter what method you use, because you are going to learn anyway. But let's face it, would you rather wait for a whole semester to learn something, or learn-it-yourself right now.

In short, today with all the free online resources, communities, communication/collaboration/learning tools available to us, we can practically learn whatever we want, whenever we want, and no crappy lecturer is going to distract us with outdated rubbish, or silly scheduled course is going to slow us down in the process.

Did I just say that? But, sadly in many instances it is a reality. I know, I have been there :(

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