Students Avoid ‘Difficult’ Online Courses, Study Finds

Ann Schnoebelen, Observatoire de Paris, Apr 26, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The report states, "Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting." Again, we have to keep in mind that by studying "students" the reserachers are limiting their domain to people who (a) have already excelled in traditional education, (b) have the means to pay for tuition, and (c) have already done so, and are currently attending college. So of course they would shun the online option in cases where their privileged position will give them that in-person advantage. Yes, it's true that "A 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Education actually found that students in online courses fared better than those receiving face-to-face instruction." And in the real world, people flock to these challenging courses. But students, given the option, make choices that preserve their advantage, rather than forcing them to compete with strangers in a new and (to them) unproven environment.

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