Archive for October 1, 2010

More students dropping out from on-line classes

In the research literature, there are signs that distance education can be done well, and there are certainly lots of calls to increase use of distance education. But on the ground, the story is less optimistic.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the local Atlanta paper, and Kennesaw is a growing university in the Atlanta suburbs.  They are finding that their on-line courses are having substantially higher drop-out rates.  Maybe part of the challenge is getting the research into practice.

Colleges in Georgia and nationwide are offering more online courses every year, but there’s a glitch in the system: Students are substantially more likely to drop classes they take through a computer than courses they take in class.

At Kennesaw State University 15 percent of students dropped one traditional business class, while 29 percent dropped the online version of the course during the spring 2009 semester, said business professor Stacy Campbell. Nationally, dropout rates for online courses are between 15 to 20 percent higher.

Faculty use different strategies to combat this problem — calling students at home, sending e-mails, even asking students to sign contracts pledging to stay on top of assignments. Campbell and five other professors at Kennesaw State’s Coles College of Business wondered whether these methods work and tested them during the spring 2009 semester.

They didn’t work. Students exposed to the strategies dropped out as often as those who weren’t, according to the study that will be published this month.

“We really tried to provide some personal touches that students may miss out on by taking a class online,” Campbell said. “The students seemed to like what we did and it helped those who stayed in the class. But it really didn’t do anything to keep students from dropping the course.”

via Professors study how to improve online learning  |

October 1, 2010 at 9:08 am 6 comments

Open Textbooks Aren’t Happening Yet

An activist group has called for open textbooks to reduce student costs, but points out that there are few books available.  The report doesn’t address the question of who will write open textbooks and why.

Altogether, that means that if all of a student’s professors adopted an open text, that student would spend an average of 80 percent less than he or she currently does on textbooks, according to the group’s report.

That scenario is unrealistic right now. While it has seen a bump in adoption this year, Flat World still offers only about 20 titles. And the open-textbook landscape beyond Flat World’s modest catalog is a bit of a wild west. An informal study released earlier this year, commissioned by Student PIRGs and carried out by the University of California at Berkeley, found that faculty members believed “there were no high-quality and reliable open textbooks currently available in their subjects that were comparable to the print/traditional textbooks they used.”

“It is clear,” the Berkeley authors continued, “that there are many, many fields and subfields with no viable and acceptable open textbooks at this time.”

via News: A Call for Open Textbooks – Inside Higher Ed.

October 1, 2010 at 8:59 am 3 comments

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