17 Sept 2012
Research into K-12 Online Learning (week2)
In the Report Keeping Pace with K-12 online learning, in the chapter about «Quality, accountability and research» some studies and data analysis are presented, but there’s no definitive answer to the question whether online learning is better than traditional classroom learning.
It’s not only an issue of technology is also about adequate pedagogy for online learning, teacher training for online delivery, instructional models and contents.
«There will never be a study that concludes definitively that online is always better than brick-and-mortar or vice-versa. What we know from the research is that K-12 online education is as good as, and is sometimes better and sometimes worse than face-to-face education. Researchers in K-12 online learning realize this and we’re beginning to ask a much more important question. Instead of asking which is better, we return to our question: under what conditions do these programs succeed or fail?» (Ferdig)
An interesting table is presented in the report that tries to answer «under what conditions does online learning work?»
I’m not surprised with these research outcomes because I think that good quality teaching and learning depend on so many factors, above all strategies and methodologies based on the learners.
Technology is very important but it just can reproduce the teacher centred/tests/exams of traditional school system.
It’s amazing that truly advanced pedagogical methodologies that date back to the beginning of the 20th century (and before with Rousseau, Froebel…), like the modern school movement, Montessori, Freinet, A..S.Neill Summerhill remain outsiders.
We can reproduce old ways with technology, just like this brasilian video shows – http://youtu.be/WZ3BWVR76s0
The paradigm shift must be on methods based on project or inquiry towards an active learning. It’s boring to listen to content delivery, because you can find extremely good quality content on the Internet. Unless you have an excellent communicator in front of you, it doesn’t work anymore.
Useful links for an online repository of research on virtual schools – http://www.vsclearinghouse.com/ as well as iNACOL – http://www.inacol.org/research/bookstore/detail.php?id=21
You have to take into consideration different learning styles and online learning may not be the adequate approch for some students. It requires sel discipline and organization and strong motivation.