vendredi 25 décembre 2009

Technology's impact on teaching

Technology's Impact on Effective Teaching Strategies

The United States Department of Education published a report over the summer titled, "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning; A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies" (Center for Technology in Learning, 2009). What's interesting about this report is that it confirms what those of us who teach or have taught either distance or online courses already know and moves us beyond what is often commonly believed: that there is no significant difference between online learning and the face-to-face experience.

The report abstract reads as follow:

A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size.
As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes--measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation--was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. Analysts noted that these blended conditions often included additional learning time and instructional elements not received by students in control conditions. This finding suggests that the positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se. An unexpected finding was the small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning conditions for K–12 students. In light of this small corpus, caution is required in generalizing to the K–12 population because the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education). (p.ix)

The report clarifies that it does not address all student populations, as the analysis found most of the significant studies within higher education. Consequently, the report data are only relevant in the specific contexts of the studies analyzed. In general, however, the report supports the notion that there seems to be evidence that it is the learning process that matters more than the technology tools used. Additionally, the overall challenge remains that more studies must be done with a variety of student populations and also that we must continue to explore ways to evaluate learning within technology-rich learning environments.

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