Online Learning Gains Approval; Study Finds It Effective for Adults, Maybe Not Children

Article excerpt

Byline: Caroline Bourdeau, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Time spent away from teachers and in front of a computer screen may not be as bad as once thought.

According to an analysis released by the U.S. Department of Education on June 26, instruction combining online and face-to-face instruction is better than instruction simply done online or only face to face.

The analysis, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, was compiled from research literature ranging from 1996 to July 2008 as well as more than 1,000 empirical online learning studies. It was conducted by a private contractor, the Center for Technology and Learning, to help educators answer questions concerning the increased interest in online learning.

This new report reinforces that effective teachers need to incorporate digital content into everyday classes and consider open-source learning management systems, which have proven cost effective in school districts and colleges nationwide, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement released by the organization.

Mr. Duncan urged teachers and schools to make immediate technological upgrades before the stimulus money runs out.

Blended conditions of online and face-to-face learning also produced larger student achievement because they included additional learning time and instruction that was not given to students in the control group, according to the study.

The study showed an increased interest in hybrid approaches and found that policy-makers and practitioners want to know about the effectiveness of Internet-based, interactive online learning approaches and need information about the conditions under which online learning is effective. …