Online-alone isn’t as good as online plus face-to-face
I found the article below in this summer’s Harvard Education Letter, then had to hunt to find the reference US Department of Education report. It’s a meta-analysis that came out in October 2010. They do find that online plus face-to-face seems to be the best combination for student learning: The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes…was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. The Harvard piece is pointing out that that’s changing the online schools’ practice. In times of rising higher-education costs, that probably should be changing brick-and-mortar institutions’ practice, too.
Fast forward to 2011. Connections Academy operates in more than 20 states and serves more than 30,000 students. And it’s not alone. In just one decade, virtual learning has exploded, with two massive statewide full-time virtual schools in Florida and North Carolina, and more on the way.
But just as online learning is taking off, new research is finding that it may not be the most effective way to teach children, and virtual companies have begun to see that a purely virtual approach has its limits.
A key report put out by the U.S. Department of Education in September 2010 demonstrated that a blend of face-to-face instruction and online learning produced the greatest academic gains. Now, not only are traditional schools looking for more online options, but virtual schools in turn are adding bits of brick and mortar to their offerings.