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How Technology Can Improve Online Learning—and Learning in General

By Robert W. Mendenhall

As president of a nonprofit, online university I am often asked about the quality of online learning. The answer is that the quality of education is largely independent of the mode of delivery. Other variables are far more important. There is high-quality online learning, and there is high-quality classroom learning, just as there is low-quality learning in both settings.

Several recent studies support this observation: A report from the American Enterprise Institute called “Diplomas and Dropouts” documented the wide disparity in graduation rates across 1,300 traditional colleges and universities, even between those with similar admissions criteria and students. The Washington Monthly’s 2010 College Guide listed 50 “dropout factories”—all bricks-and-mortar institutions with graduation rates from 5 percent to 20 percent. A 2010 meta-analysis and review of online-learning studies, published by the U.S. Department of Education, concluded that online learning was as good as or slightly more effective than traditional face-to-face instruction.

Continued at: http://chronicle.com/article/How-Technology-Can-Improve/129616/

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