More than 7.1 million students are currently taking at least one online course. Despite the apparent popularity, however, educators have given the trend low marks.
But a new study from MIT suggests naysayers should think otherwise. Massive open online courses are not only effective, researchers have discovered, they are as effective as what’s being traditionally taught in the classroom — regardless of how prepared or in the know students are.
Researchers’ findings have been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and co-author David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, knows they will be controversial.
“A number of well-known educators have said there isn’t going to be much learning in MOOCs,” said Pritchard to MIT News, “or if there is, it will be for people who are already well-educated.”
The group, comprised of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Tsinghua University, completed a before-and-after test on students taking “Mechanics ReView,” an introductory mechanics course offered on massive open online learning platform edX. Researchers then conducted a similar test on students taking the class residentially, discovering: