Department of Education: Online Education Beats Classroom

    August 20, 2009
    Chris Crum

An interesting study from none other than the US Department of Education says that students using online education actually perform better than those who just learn in the classroom. The findings are all the more intriguing, considering the source.

The study examined a number of other studies on the subject to reach its conclusions. Online education programs should be pleased with the results.

Some of the key findings from the study:

– Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.

– Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.

– Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning.

– Most of the variations in the way in which different studies implemented online learning did not affect student learning outcomes significantly.

– The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.

– Blended and purely online learning conditions implemented within a single study generally result in similar student learning outcomes.

– Elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that students learn in online classes.

– Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.


"The ability to share ideas with anyone in the world is a major benefit of online education," says Dr. Sal Arria, CEO/Co-Founder of the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). "24/7/365 worldwide access makes the exchange of ideas as simple as an email or message board."

"Once people experience the fun, ease, and power of online education, they won’t want to stop learning," adds Arria, "Online education allows people all over the world to expand their knowledge base, at their own pace, and in the way that works best for their schedule and lives."

You have to wonder if the findings will lead to an increased presence of online training programs in classrooms across the US. You have to also wonder how that might affect teaching jobs, many of which are already in peril, due to the state of the economy. Here is a look at the Department of Education’s full report (pdf).