Friday, February 19, 2010

Online Classes vrs. Traditional Classes

A study done by the U.S. Dept. of Education has determined that students actually performed higher in on-line classes compared to the traditional classes. Not substantially better...but enough to start a discussion as to where the future of education should go.

On average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference.

Online Education allows users to take on their education in a more meaningful way. They are allowed to take part of something fun and unique. To learn something by actually putting it to use.

What this study tells us, is that the students of today need to have their instruction be taught in an engaging and thought provoking way. In order for the learning to occur the students need to be engaged in a community and if the classrooms don't support this now, the online classes will.

How does this study, change the way you design your instruction?


Emily said...


I am writing on behalf on non-profit organization Peace One Day. We are very excited to be launching our 2010 USA Free Online Multimedia Peace Education Resource. I was wondering if you might be interested in registering and viewing the Resource and perhaps writing a blog or posting links to our website, to help us get the word out and make it accessible to teachers.

you can email me at

Warm regards,


Joelle D said...


I hope this post finds you well. I am currently a student and work in affiliation with Westwood College. People, students exceptionally, love the thrill of debate and gaining of knowledge and your blog spot provides a way to express our feelings. Thank you! On top of the education for us college students, college gives us a combination of values that help improve our character like persistence, rebounding from failure, and setting realistic goals. We learn these lessons not from the heat of a championship game, but from the humble practices at college. I am commenting on this post because I myself find online classes to be very beneficial to me and was wondering if you would be interested in putting Westwood College's website ( onto your web page?

Please let me know your thoughts either way!

Thanks for your time,


Mr_Toad said...

I think the main point about on-line teaching is that it's interactive. The lesson for teachers is to avoid lecturing and to get the students involved in the learning process instead of being passive bystanders.

It's the little things. While we may feel that, for example, a student reading a passage aloud is not going to be as good as US reading it aloud, with all our knowledge of emphasis, metre and so on - the fact remains that the other students will probably be more interested in listening to their peer's efforts (may also simply be a change from hearing the teacher's voice).

Don't lecture! Even if you are a lecturer!

See - you needed a toad to tell you this!


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nisha said...

Interesting article. You make some good points. Thank you again.

Rockdoc said...

I taught an on-line course for seveal years - until I retired. My feeling is that it can be a great way for students to learn, but only if a lot of care is taken in course design. Trying to map an existing lecture course to an on-line course in a one-to-one way is a recipe for disaster. The instructor has to step back and let the students do the heavy lifting in the learning process. Watch what they do, nudge them when they are going in a direction that is not fruitful, and don't expect them to end up where they would have if you had been lecturing.

Heidi said...

I have taken many on site courses, and just two on-line classes. On-line courses can be great, depending on what content you're learning about. They are especially great for busy professionals and parents, but if you have a lot of questions, it is alot more time consuming to communicate them via email than it would be face to face.

Richard Sugden said...

(Oh no, not Mr_Toad again!)

I think that my new "on-line English classes website" addresses the concerns of both Rockdoc and Heidi in some small way. It is aimed at Portuguese speakers.

By lucky happenstance I used to teach Maths, not English - so I was completely unable to 'map an existing lecture course to (my) on-line course". Basically I'm doing conversation classes so I can no longer expect a controlled situation. Of course my new classes are on-to-one and I don't need to adopt any strategies for "keeping everyone's attention".

Thing is, students engage much more with the class when the teacher can let go of the reins. This takes great courage but such teachers are always much prized by the students. Let the horse go where it wants, say I.

My site is certainly designed for busy professionals. I use SKYPE so do not run into the problem that you describe. Of course with SKYPE there is the option of text messaging as well - basically it's "face to face" with a webcam. I encourage the use of email communication for "following up" after the class.

I believe that the site I have made (I'm the webmaster as well as teacher) is innovative. If you are interested in my creating such a site for you and you want to view the site - it's at:

It boasts an interactive map of London and clicking on any ofthe Portuguese text brings up the English translation.

online diploma said...

A well balanced article which is very difficult when comparing two technologies.

Callie said...

online classes are the future... its as simple as that. i have to imagine they'll only become more effective with time

Essay Writing said...

Great article...Thanks for sharing...

Cheryl said...

I teach math full time in a public high school, and I also teach several online high school math courses part time. Based on my experience, I think a blended classroom is the way to go. Most students still need a classroom teacher to teach the difficult concepts and to answer student questions, but with an online curriculum, students can work at their own pace - providing the differentiated instruction we are so encouraged to implement in our classrooms. In fact, we could have both honor students and struggling students in the same classroom!