Online students outperformed those receiving face-to-face instruction, concludes a SRI report for the Department of Education. The report analyzed some K-12 studies, but primarily looked at college students and adults in training programs. It found online students averaged a 59th percentile ranking, while classroom students in the same course ended up in the 50th percentile.
Philip R. Regier, the dean of Arizona State University’s Online and Extended Campus program, predicts more use of social networking technology to create “learning communities” in which students collaborate.
“People are correct when they say online education will take things out the classroom. But they are wrong, I think, when they assume it will make learning an independent, personal activity. Learning has to occur in a community.”
E-books are going to replace huge, pricey printed textbooks, predicts Jim Cullen, who was asked by his school to pick a new U.S. history textbook. He hopes the new e-books don’t imitate the current mega-textbooks, which have become almost unreadable.
They’re all just so damn busy — open up to a random page, and you’ll see a map here, an illustration there, information in the margins, headers, subheads, captions, tables. . . . Students tell me such features are appealing to them. Having lots of illustrations in particular makes the individual pages, often flowing in two columns of text, seem less dismaying. I get that. But as someone who likes and is serious about reading, I find all this activity distracting and am always surprised at just how hard it is for me to stay focused on those occasions where I decide I’m really going to read the textbook. . . . The problem is even worse when I try to read a traditional textbook in e-book form, since most e-books simply mimetically reproduce the print book without making much effort to present the material in a computer-screen friendly manner. That, I think, has to change.
If I were to write an e-textbook, I think I’d tell a story with minimal illustrations and let students click their way to documents, photos, maps, songs, bios, “day in the life” sidebars, etc.