Normally I don't share things that I find USELESS - but since this study is clearly going to get a lot of attention, I want to share my views about it and why it is useless.
The study asks whether "online classes" are better or worse than "face to face classes" - and it does so simply by examining the grade transcripts of all these students. Was the class online? Check this box. Not online? Check this box. Tote up results.
Results: online classes are not as good as face-to-face classes.
But... we know NOTHING about what was going on in those online classes that could/should/must be improved... and, for that matter, we know nothing about what is going on in those face to face classes that could/should/must be improved.
So, this study is a perfect example of comparing things simply because the data is available, not because the results will be useful.
Does this study tell us anything that is useful in improving a curriculum? Not really - unless people want to use the study to attack online learning, as they no doubt will do. But we need more than a blunt instrument like that (Online courses BAD) to improve a curriculum.
More importantly, does this study tell us anything that is useful in improving a course, online or face to face...?
Nope. Nothing.
Did I already know that ALL courses need to be improved, online or face to face? Yes, I knew that already.
Do we need help, lots of it, in order to improve our classes? Yep, we do.
Does this study provide us any help of any kind in doing that?
No. It does not.
So, for me at least, waste of time, waste of effort. If only they had chosen at least two or three parameters of the online courses (types of student activities, types of assessment, software tools utilized) to actually study instead. With zero information provided about "the online environment" as it VARIES from one class to another, we get zero use out of the study as far as I can tell.
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