Blended Learning can Reduce Learning Time by 25% to 50%
Source: The American Interest, Jan/Feb 2013
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, who’ve been experimenting with computer-based learning for years, have found that when machine-guided learning is combined with traditional classroom instruction, students can learn material in half the time. Researchers at Ithaka S+R studied two groups of students—one group that received all instruction in person, and another group that received a mixture of traditional and computer-based instruction. The two groups did equally well on tests, but those who received the computer instruction were able to learn the same amount of material in 25 percent less time.
Among the chattering classes in higher ed, there is an increasing sense that we have reached a tipping point where new interactive web technology, coupled with widespread access to broadband internet service and increased student comfort interacting online, will send online education mainstream. It’s easy to forget that only ten years ago Facebook didn’t exist. Teens now approaching college age are members of the first generation to have grown up conducting a major part of their social lives online. They are prepared to engage with professors and students online in a way their predecessors weren’t, and as time passes more and more professors are comfortable with the technology, too.
MIT is the first elite university to offer a credential for students who complete its free, open-source online courses. (The certificate of completion requires a small fee.) For the first time, students can do more than simply watch free lectures; they can gain a marketable credential—something that could help secure a raise or a better job.
While edX won’t offer traditional academic credits, Harvard and MIT have announced that “certificates of mastery” will be available for those who complete the online courses and can demonstrate knowledge of course material. The arrival of credentials, backed by respected universities, eliminates one of the last remaining obstacles to the widespread adoption of low-cost online education.
Since edX is open source, Harvard and MIT expect other universities to adopt the same platform and contribute their own courses. And the two universities have put $60 million of their own money behind the project, making edX the most promising MOOC venture out there right now.