A report on online learning and educational productivity: disappointed!!!!

Tony Bates, online learning, distance education resources, Mar 22, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I couldn't help but chuckle after reading this review by Tony Bates of Bakia, M., Shear, L. Toyama, Y. and Lasseter, A. (2012) Understanding the implications of online learning for educational productivity (Washington DC: Department of Education Office of Educational Technology). The authors conclude, "a review of the available research that examined the impact of online learning on educational productivity for secondary school students was found to be lacking. No analyses were found that rigorously measured the productivity of an online learning system relative to place-based instruction in secondary schools." However, as Bates notes, the absence of any evidence at all does not prevent the authors from listing nine ways to improve productivity, including broadening access, peronalizing learning, increasing student motivation, and more. As Bates writes, the main take-away here is that "it’s not a good idea to set up such a rigorous standard for the design of research that the research can’t be done – especially if the taxpayer is paying for it." You can find the report here.
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