Problems with Online Learning
Last week, the DigiQ team held a “Brown Bag” session where we discussed the various pros and cons of MOOCs. Overall, I think we agreed that moocs is a useful learning resource but with certain limitations such as lack of completion rates and prior knowledge of the subject by some students. We also talked a lot about online classes and some of its benefits and problems. This NYTimes article looks at one of those problems in online education. Online education provides a lot of benefits to school districts such as by reducing the number of teachers to save more money.
However, for less proficient students in high school and college, online courses can be very challenging and thus defeating some of its purposes. Research shows that blended courses (a mixture of in-person and online) tends to be more effective for students, especially struggling ones. Additionally, there is also the question of whether students are actually learning. For example, Susan Dynarski, a professor of policy and education at University of Michigan argues that online recovery courses often give students an easy passing grade without being taught that much. For less proficient students, the outcome usually means dropping out or finding other solutions such as for-profit schools. These schools disproportionately enroll low income students who are usually first in their family to attend college. These students also tend to drop out because of weak preparation. Overall, online courses can open opportunities for students with strong academic skills but academically challenged students need traditional interaction with teachers or maybe a mixture of both.