[LINK] Two views on online Learning
brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Aug 9 15:40:59 AEST 2010
Bill Gates: Forget university, the web is the future for education
Aug. 7, 2010 (7:54 am)
By: Matthew Humphries
Bill Gates attended the Technonomy conference earlier this week, and had
quite a bold statement to make about the future of education. He
believes the web is where people will be learning in five years from
now, not colleges and university
During his chat he said:
Five years from now on the web for free
you’ll be able to find the best lectures in
the world. It will be better than any
However there is a big difference between having access to "the best
lectures in the world." and getting a good education - see below.
And let's not forget that Bill Gates knows more about business than
software engineering and even less about education.
Rushing Too Fast to Online Learning? Outcomes of Internet Versus
Aug. 8, 2010
A combination of fiscal constraints and improvements in technology has
led to an increased reliance on online classes of all types -- many of
which use Internet versions of traditional, live lectures. Now a new
study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) raises
questions about that fast-growing trend in higher education.
"Online instruction may be more economical to deliver than live
instruction, but there is no free lunch," said David Figlio, Orrington
Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University
and primary author of the NBER working paper released this month.
"Simply putting traditional courses online could have negative
consequences, especially for lower-performing and language minority
The rush to online education may come at a greater cost than educators
suspect, according to Figlio and study co-authors Mark Rush and Lu Yin
of the University of Florida. The release last summer of a report by the
U.S. Department of Education added to the growing trend.
"Our findings suggest that universities interested in exploiting
economic efficiencies should carefully consider whether they want to put
traditional lecture classes online," said Figlio. "Our study for the
first time presents experimental evidence about the relative efficacy of
face-to-face versus recorded traditional lectures.
"We didn't test whether Internet courses are good or bad per se," said
Figlio, who teaches in Northwestern's School of Education and Social
Policy and is a faculty fellow at its Institute for Policy Research.
"But we did find modest evidence that live-only instruction results in
higher learning outcomes than Internet instruction."
The study, "Is it Live or is it Internet? Experimental Estimates of the
Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning," is by no means
definitive, according to Figlio. It does, however, provide the first
"apples-to-apples" comparison of live versus online delivery of
The study's strongest findings in favor of live instruction were for
relatively low achieving students, male students and Hispanic students.
While they may be better served by face-to-face education delivery,
often those are the students who are most likely to receive online
"At the least, our findings indicate that much more experimentation is
necessary before one can credibly declare that online education is peer
to traditional live classroom instruction, let alone superior to live
instruction," the authors write.
The study made use of data from an experiment conducted in a Principles
of Microeconomics class taught at a large, selective doctorate-granting
Typically, students register for a "live" section of the microeconomics
class in which they can watch the lecture in a room with 190 seats or
they can register for an online section in which they watch the lecture
online. Because 1,600 or more students typically participate in the
class taught by a single instructor, most students register for an
Prior to the Spring 2007 semester, the instructor of the class offered
students the opportunity to participate in the experiment. Of nearly
1,600 registered students, 327 volunteered to take part and, in return,
were given a half letter boost in their grade at the end of the semester.
The volunteers were randomly assigned to watching the lecture live or to
watching the lecture online. Measures were taken to ensure that
instruction delivery was made only in the manner in which students were
"Until further studies on the effectiveness of online learning versus
in-class learning are necessary, universities would be wise to recognize
that all Internet courses are not created equally," Figlio said. That,
he added, was the salient point of last year's U.S. Department of
email: brd at iimetro.com.au
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