When it comes to learning, the norm is that each individual learns at their own pace and in their own way. In the classroom, each student is taught the same way, and thus, all students learn the same way.
What Makes Online Learning Different From In-class Learning?
By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Business & Finance Week — New research from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has examined learning and teaching methods in the classroom versus how students use online learning tools, e-books, educational apps, online assistants, and other digital tools to reach their learning goals in learning. The finding are in the February issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which does not list the paper in its subscription price but asks magazine subscribers to pay for the magazine anyway (see also Consumers Union ).
“The fact that online learning includes more than just the classroom is exactly what makes it a system that should benefit students,” said Connie Dolan , senior director of public education for Consumers Union , which is the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “It’s often easier and more cost-effective for a student to sign up for an online class than a traditional classroom program. You can build a curriculum and customize course assignments at home, and you can choose any learning tool of your choice.”
CMS Commissioner Seema Verma reviewed online learning, including virtual reality, and training programs offered by two federal agencies, in the February issue of Consumer Reports. Verma concluded that e-learning was not an effective way to address barriers to education:
“Satisfaction with virtual reality training varied based on how much time students spent in VR training. Subjects like theater and meteorology performed better, and communication was the least relevant. On the other hand,, STEM subjects tended to do better, with subjects like engineering, mathematics, and computer science performing better than in the real world.”
“Students can learn about almost any subject in virtually any way, for free, as long as they are interested and willing to participate,” Dolan said. “Other web resources, like online assistants, are also available to help students help themselves. If you or a student are feeling overwhelmed, it might be time to branch out and find a more relevant program.”
The CMS report describes outcomes in four different ways: how learning happens in the classroom; in-school, online, and off-school environments; and even in off-campus locations. Using data on more than 17,000 high school students, the study reported mixed results on students’ assessment skills and how engaged they were in the learning process.
The lead author of the report, Dr. Pamela Stoddard , a market intelligence specialist with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), found that classroom learning sessions were often taught in an atmosphere that is designed to “engage students.” An online learning environment used frequently by students in other studies is a more “activist environment” or an “independent environment.”
“It’s easier for students to be passive learners when the classroom is designed for group discussion,” Stoddard said. “Off-campus online instruction could lower the bar for teacher effectiveness. It is important to understand that what is being learned may vary dramatically from one circumstance to another. Students tend to be a little more flexible than teachers, so if a program works for them, it can really make a difference.”
Consumer Reports’ new press release explains the difference between online learning and traditional classroom learning:
“In-school, online, and off-campus environments differed in terms of student engagement, as well as learning experiences and classroom content. Curriculum, class scheduling, and exam requirements varied from campus to campus. In addition, off-campus learning was less frequent than on-campus classes and was often located outside the university or college campus. The study found that off-campus online instruction would be similar to in-classroom classwork or blended learning, and therefore “mature and comfortable.” It is important to note that campus-based or on-campus online instruction in blended learning was acceptable for non-selective learners in all subjects except science.”
Keywords for this news article include: Education, Online Learning, Technology.
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