Is Online Education More Effective?

Is Online Education More Effective?

Online education can indeed be more effective, but more effective than what exactly? Well, the top performing online colleges prove that online instruction is more effective than in-person education when it comes to reaching marginalized communities, creating affordable access, and promoting the development of 21st Century skills. By contrast, online education is not a particularly effective way to rush a sorority, participate in intramural sports, or take advantage of your dining hall’s all-you-can-eat policy. It really depends on what you want out of your college experience.

Whatever its drawbacks, online education is now a permanent fixture on the education landscape. After two decades of evolution at the post-secondary level, online education is not just a promising alternative. For many students, it is the only path to an accredited degree.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the now-constant threat of disruption to traditional classroom education, remote learning has now become an essential tool in the arsenal of K-12 educators as well. Web-mediated instruction has become a critical lifeline for students and educators who are otherwise separated by circumstance.

For a closer look at the top performing online colleges, check out the best online colleges for 2022.

How Effective is Online Education?

Online education is very effective when implemented properly. But how often is this the case? As countless schools, educators, and students have been forced to move abruptly into the online space, this question has taken on added importance. Indeed, many schools have struggled to adjust due to a lack of preparation, training, or resources. At a time when it is absolutely crucial for us to establish a working model for online education at every level, many institutions are grappling with the basic question—is there a way to make online education more effective?

For a closer look at some of the challenges public schools are facing today, check out Online Education and COVID-19—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Or read on to find out how online education can indeed be more effective than traditional education…

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Effective Online Education Requires Effective Preparation

There are a number of challenges that are unique to online education. The social engagement and real-time dynamics of the physical classroom truly are difficult to replicate, particularly without planning and preparation.

In the wake of the pandemic, countless educators were thrust into online instruction without meaningful training. Schools were forced to implement online strategies without prior testing or experience. Students everywhere were forced to adjust, unarmed with strategies for adaptation to this new mode of learning. Schools were particularly unprepared for the psychological toll that this transition would take on students and faculty alike.

Online education quickly became the only show in town. But few public schools were ready for primetime. According to Education Week, Just like in brick-and-mortar classrooms, online courses need a strong curriculum and strong pedagogical practices. Teachers need to understand what students know and what they don’t know, as well as how to help them learn new material.

Unfortunately, these conditions were far too often absent during these first two years of pandemic life. This consequently obscured the full potential of online education not just to be effective, but to create immediate access to an excellent education in a safe, accessible, and affordable environment. On the bright side, the multitude of online success stories at the post-secondary level offer substantial proof of concept.

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Online Education May Be More Effective Than Traditional Education

In fact, as early as 2004, researchers began yielding evidence that online education does have the potential to be more effective than traditional education. According to an article in the Journal of Communication, distance education course students slightly outperformed traditional students on exams and course grades. The average effect was heterogeneous, and the examination of several moderating features (presence or absence of simultaneous interaction, type of channel used in distance education, and course substance) failed to produce a homogeneous solution. The results demonstrate, however, no clear decline in educational effectiveness when using distance education technology.

...as early as 2004, researchers began yielding evidence that online education does have the potential to be more effective than traditional education.”

This is to suggest that with the proper training for educators, adoption of proven technology by educational institutions, and some level of meaningful preparation for students, online education can be at least as effective as traditional education. This is to say nothing of its unique ability to transcend the physical, practical and socioeconomic impediments that can sometimes stand in the way of classroom access. Online education offers massive potential to provide effective educational access and experience to students from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, and facing a wide range of challenges.

But once again, achieving the best outcomes means adopting best practices. Here, we can learn a great deal from the very best in online colleges, those schools that have mastered remote learning, and in doing so, have demonstrated the true potential of online education to achieve outcomes which can’t always be attained in a traditional classroom setting.

For a closer look at exactly how online education might be a better option for you, check out 5 Ways Online Education Can Be More Effective Than Traditional Classroom Education.

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1 Comment

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1.
Winston Ewert
February 25, 2022 | 08:22 PM
I once took a class that I wasn't very good at online, it was a very bad idea.

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