The trend towards online learning raises the question of just how effective an online education is as compared to current traditional education models. According to a 2010 study conducted for the U.S. Department of Education, online learners perform slightly better than students in traditional face-to-face classrooms. (Source: Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies: U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service – Revised September 2010.) The study analyzed research comparing online and conventional learning at institutions of higher education and in K-12 school settings between 1996 and 2008.
A key finding of the report shows that students doing some or all of their coursework online rank, on average, in the 59th percentile, meaning these students did better than 59% of all those who were scored. Students in traditional classrooms ranked in the 50th percentile. Although this is a significant difference, the results don’t signal the end of public schools. But – the facts may help put an end to the myth that online learning is of a lower quality than current traditional learning models.