eLearning is effective. To lead in eLearning, to support your team, you will need to become their advocate, their protectors, and also – in some college environments – their knights of eLearning, coming to battle again and again to share the pointed message that eLearning is 1) democratic – it enables access in a way unimagined 20 years ago, 2) effective – the US Department of Education (2010) concludes that online education is as effective as face-to-face courses at achieving outcomes, and 3) a critical part of the solution to the very real challenges which colleges and universities are facing.
I had thought, previously, that this second point was a done deal – that, given the preponderance of research into the effectiveness of online education, the argument no longer had to be made. It was common knowledge.
However, it turns out that it is not common knowledge. And it is particularly challenging to make the case for the investment in eLearning as a part of a systemic transformation if senior administration hasn’t been exposed to the same evidence of effectiveness from the second point. The US Department of Education has conducted survey research of available studies and concluded that “In recent experimental and quasi-experimental studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective, providing a rationale for the effort required to design and implement blended approaches. When used by itself, online learning appears to be as effective as conventional classroom instruction, but not more so” (U.S. Department of Education, 2010, p. xviii).
As a working mother of two who loves her husband, her children, and is passionate about her career, I know from experience that were it not for the option of online and hybrid courses at Kent State University, I would not be able to be advancing in my PhD program. Access, efficiency, effectiveness.
Just the facts ma’am. And it shows that eLearning works.
Caveat – like any type of instruction, it must be done well.
U.S. Department of Education (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
What if your students aren’t used to online and need support? Check out this amusing game on surviving the zombie apocalypse online: https://breeze.tri-c.edu/ndlwgame/.
And, another infographic on the advantages of eLearning: