Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials • May 22, 2012
Higher educaion is acing serious challenges in he Unied Saes. Tere isincreasing concern abou rising coss, he qualiy o educaion, and ha henaion is losing is “compeiive edge.” Online learning—specically highly ineracive, closed-loop, online learning sysems ha we call ILO or IneraciveLearning Online—holds he promise o broadening access o higher educaiono more individuals, while also lowering coss or sudens. Bu is he qualiy here?In our rs repor in his area, “Barriers o Adopion o Online Learning Sysemsin U. S. Higher Educaion,” we highlighed a broad, widely held concern abouhe qualiy o learning oucomes achieved hrough online learning. Bu do weacually know how ineracive online learning sysems really compare o hein-classroom experience? Tis second repor was designed o help nd answers. We used a sricly quaniaive mehodology o compare he wo learning approachesin a rigorous way. In six dieren public insiuions, we arranged or he sameinroducory saisics course o be augh. In each insance, a “conrol” group wasenrolled in a radiional classroom-based course; hen, a “reamen” group ook ahybrid course using a prooype machine-guided mode o insrucion developed aCarnegie Mellon Universiy in concer wih one ace-o-ace meeing each week.Sudens were assigned o hese wo groups by means o a careully designedrandomizaion mehodology. Te research we conduced was designed o answerhese quesions:
Can sophisicaed, ineracive online courses be used o mainain or improve basic learning oucomes (masery o course conen, compleion raes, andime-o-degree) in inroducory courses in basic subjecs such as saisics?
Are hese courses as eecive, or possibly more eecive, or minoriy andlow-socioeconomic-saus sudens and or oher groups subjec o sereoypehrea? Or, are hese groups less well suied o an online approach?
Are such courses equally eecive wih no-so-well-prepared sudens and well-prepared sudens?Te resuls o his sudy are remarkable; hey show comparable learning oucomes orhis basic course, wih a promise o cos savings and produciviy gains over ime.More research is needed. Even hough he analysis was rigorous, i was a singlecourse. We need o learn more abou he adapabiliy o exising plaorms oroering oher courses in dieren environmens. Ihaka S+R is commited oconinuing his research and sharing our ndings broadly. We look orward o coninuing o engage wih all hose who care abou highereducaion o help deliver on he poenial ha new echnologies provide.