Online ed works—for sex, alcohol, and health

All-online courses have low success rates, note the Hechinger Report. But computer-based instruction can be more effective than classroom teaching for sex, drugs, and health issues, “subjects in which privacy, personal comfort and customized information are especially important, and embarrassment or cultural taboos can get in the way of classroom teaching.”

Simple video- and animation-based interactive courses in these disciplines turn out to be good ways of teaching subjects you may have giggled through in health class.

. . . “We’re seeing significant and large effects on attitudes, knowledge, and also behaviors” from online courses in nontraditional subjects, says Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who coauthored one study of the subject.

Colombian students who took an 11-week online course in safer sex knew more about safer sex — and practiced what they knew — compared to students who took a conventional health class.

For every 68 students who took the online course instead of the traditional course, researchers estimated by reviewing students’ medical records and comparing them to those of peers who didn’t take the course, up to two sexually transmitted infections were prevented.

Students — and teachers — often feel embarrassed to talk about sex in conventional classrooms, the researchers found.

Years ago, I looked into how contraception was taught in San Jose high schools. One teacher told me sex ed was lumped in with drivers’ ed, anti-drug ed, career awareness, etc. He left sex ed till the end of the school year in hopes he’d run out of time and not have to teach it.

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