Which is better? Online or in person ?

A September New York Times article describes results from a 12 year study by the U.S. Education Department that concludes “online learning on average beat face-to-face teaching by a modest but statistically meaningful margin”. Meanwhile a research paper by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research came to a different conclusion, “A rush to online education may come at more of a cost than educators may suspect.”

I personally think many educators and students would agree that several factors affect which medium is “better”. The instructor, the course, the materials, and most importantly the traits of the student, are influences on course effectiveness. I know many new moms who appreciate and do well with online courses, first year college students who fare better with in person courses, and vice versa.

Is it that far fetched that the student may be a major variable on the “best”  method of learning ?

U.S. Education Department study


Working paper by the U.S. National  Bureau of Economic Research


  1. Guillermo Acosta
    November 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Interesting posting Lisa. I believe that online education will continue growing. As the study suggests, the emergence of new technologies will increase student engagement and teaching effectiveness. I found particularly interesting in the study the high percentage of K 12 students exposed to online education. This for sure will have a positive impact in the adoption rate of online courses in the near future. The questions for us as educators is then, are we ready to respond to that?

    Thanks for sharing…

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