Many of us are nearing the end of an unusual term, much of which was taught online. I would like to share a 2019 article, "Does Online Education Live Up to its Promise? A Look at the Evidence and Implications" by Protopsaltis and Baum (there is a critique of this report entitled, "Deeply Flawed GMU Report on Online Education Asks Good Questions" by Hill, 2019). I believe there are worthwhile and timely questions and data to consider from this research.
This research reminds us of the historical gap (pre-spring 2020) of online students, i.e., "gaps in educational success across socioeconomic groups while failing to improve affordability; Success rates are lower and people attribute lower value to online." The report does confirm that there is evidence for the "critical role of frequent and meaningful interaction between students and instructors for increasing the quality of the online learning."
Perhaps something for us to consider whether we will be teaching online this summer (or in the fall) or returning to in-person classes is the research indicates that "students with strong time management and self-directed learning skills are more likely than others to adapt to online learning [and learning in all types of environments]."
The research also reminds us of the findings comparing in-person, hybrid/blended and online learning, which has shown that a hybrid/blended approach can provide substantial benefits to all learners (Hall & Villareal, 2015). This research restates that "technology can add to the learning experience when it supplements, rather than replaces, face-to-face interaction. The outcomes of hybrid models employing this approach do not mirror the problems that emerge in fully online courses. But high quality courses are expensive to produce and maintain. It is inexpensive to post lectures online for large numbers of students to access, but high-quality courses with meaningful interaction among students and between students and faculty are not money savers."
Ultimately, the authors state that for online learning to be effective, "it is critical to design more interactive educational experiences that integrate regular, direct, and meaningful contact and communication."
Hall, S & Villareal, D. (2015). The hybrid advantage: Graduate student perspectives of hybrid courses. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 27(1), 69-80. http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe