Which Of The Following Is Not True Regarding The Effectiveness Of Online Learning?

Online learning is the latest buzzword. It has been the subject of numerous books and documentaries.

While online learning seems to garner a lot of attention lately, all the studies that support the inefficacy of online education are actually not very compelling. As an example, in one study, college professors that replaced interactive course materials online with corresponding print textbooks were actually more effective than the professors who still used these interactive materials. On the other hand, some online learning programs are effective, although we don’t yet know exactly why.

Here is a quick breakdown of the reasons why online learning programs may be ineffective and/or have a minimal effect.

1. Only a small percentage of the American population are considered to be “cognitively elite” enough to make online learning effective.

In one study, over 80% of participants stated that they are not cognitively skilled enough to take full advantage of the online learning opportunities. As a consequence, only 1% of those enrolled in the online learning program actually completed the course. Again, I know this is surprising to some people. However, this reinforces my original point; you would have to be truly bright and talented to take advantage of the online learning opportunities that may be out there.

2. As seen in the above example, the higher the academic rank of the teaching assistants in a specific online learning program, the less effective it was.

Higher academic rank causes a change in identity for the students. In the above study, those teaching assistants that had a higher academic rank than the students’ collective grades were also less effective with online learning. One reason is that they may try too hard to meet the expectations of the higher ranked staff members. Another reason is that they may believe that some of the students are being given special treatment and therefore become needy and patient in their grades. Both of these behaviors can make it harder for the students to do well on assignments.

3. Online education does not support interdisciplinary learning, because people outside of the academic classroom usually do not interact with one another while in the classroom.

Interdisciplinary learning requires more interaction than online learning does. In addition, in interdisciplinary courses, course material has to be adapted to meet the different needs of different students. Unfortunately, interdisciplinary courses are still extremely rare in higher education.

What this tells us is that online learning might be useful in smaller classes, but in large classes, they are not helpful. Also, it is not true that an online program only works well if it can accommodate over 100 students at a time. This claim is simply not supported by any data.

4. The effects of interactive materials could be primarily psychological, but they could also be scientific.

Imaging studies that provide convincing proof of the superiority of online learning over the traditional “in person” approach are very hard to come by. These types of studies might be of more interest to colleges that have a large body of evidence supporting their value in classroom learning. In addition, the academic studies that exist are not very compelling. A current example would be those to determine the effectiveness of online learning on students of low intellectual ability. However, the reason that these types of studies do not exist is because the scientific study itself was never run. The controls were not properly set up in the control group and therefore the non-students did not receive a true comparison to their peers. This fact makes it more difficult to accurately predict whether or not the test results represent the benefits of online learning.

Other research findings contradict these results. An Australian study published last year actually found that students using the OCR Program increased their writing scores by 45 points. This is a significant increase in the average performance of students; indeed, it was actually ranked as the best achievement among all student performance methods tested. There is still much to be learned about the educational uses of online learning, but as a result of this study, it appears to be one that could have a significant impact on the next generation of students.

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