A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
The report examined the comparative research on online versus traditional classroom teaching from 1996 to 2008. Some of it was in K-12 settings, but most of the comparative studies were done in colleges and adult continuing-education programs of various kinds, from medical training to the military.
Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference.
“The study’s major significance lies in demonstrating that online learning today is not just better than nothing — it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction,” said Barbara Means, the study’s lead author and an educational psychologist at SRI International.
Continue reading at www.nytimes.com.
Smart Technologies aims to change how kids learn.
Children who marched into their grade school classrooms this autumn found the usual assortment of crayons, glue sticks and light-up globes. Thousands found something else: large interactive screens affixed to a classroom wall, known in playground lingo as "Smart boards."
When attached to the Internet, these boards are a portal to the digital world. Students can manipulate what's on the screen with a finger or a stylus. Changes get saved to a laptop computer and then printed or sent home via e-mail. Teachers like the boards. They're cool and digital--but if you want to use them like a blackboard, you can do that, too.
Sales of wall screens, which cost between $700 to $4,500, have zoomed from 170,000 units in 2004 to 700,000 worldwide this year, mostly to schools. Almost a third of k--12 classes in the U.S.--and three-quarters of the schools in the U.K.--now have one. "This is the first tool that's transforming our classrooms and showing how they're different from the past hundred years," says Diane A. Garber, principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Burlingame, Calif.
Continue reading at www.Forbes.com.