Figlio, D., Rush, N. and Yin, L. (2010) Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning Cambridge MA: National Bureau of Economic Research
See also: Carter, D. (2010) e-Learning under the microscope e-Campus News, Vol. 3, No. 10
This is another useless comparative study between online and face-to-face teaching, This study looked at 312 undergraduate students in one microeconomics course in one unnamed state university and found that male, Hispanic and low achieving students did worse online than in face-to-face classes. From this the NBER had the cheek to conclude that online learning is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
However, the online courses in this study were just video recordings of the classroom lectures. Is it surprising that the online students – especially the more disadvantaged – did less well? Will someone please tell universities and colleges in the United States that they need to redesign courses for online teaching? Look at the home page of my site and repeat it one hundred times: ‘Good teaching may overcome a poor choice of technology, but technology will never save bad teaching.’ Indeed, it usually makes it worse (the magnifier effect). Merely putting lectures (good or bad) online is bad design. See e-learning quality assurance standards, organization and research.
There should be a law against any university or college that fails to adopt well tried and tested standards in its teaching, face-to-face or online. This is criminal negligence, no less, and students should sue for fraud. But don’t blame online learning for this. It’s academic laziness and ignorance that’s at fault.
And will someone please tell researchers that they have to look at other variables besides the mode of delivery – such as the quality of the teaching – when making comparisons? Correlation is not the same as causality.
Boy, the holiday did me good.