Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity

by the US Dept of Education

This report by SRI calls for further research and identifies nine areas for possible gains in productivity in K/12 via online learning:

1) Broadening access in ways that dramatically reduce the cost of providing access to quality educational resources and experiences, particularly for students in remote locations or other situations where challenges such as low student enrollments make the traditional school model impractical;

2) Engaging students in active learning with instructional materials and access to a wealth of resources that can facilitate the adoption of research-based principles and best practices from the learning sciences, an application that might improve student outcomes without substantially increasing costs;

3) Individualizing and differentiating instruction based on student performance on diagnostic assessments and preferred pace of learning, thereby improving the efficiency with which students move through a learning progression;

4) Personalizing learning by building on student interests, which can result in increased student motivation, time on task and ultimately better learning outcomes;

5) Making better use of teacher and student time by automating routine tasks and enabling teacher time to focus on high-value activities;

6) Increasing the rate of student learning by increasing motivation and helping students grasp concepts and demonstrate competency more efficiently;

7) Reducing school-based facilities costs by leveraging home and community spaces in addition to traditional school buildings;

8) Reducing salary costs by transferring some educational activities to computers, by increasing teacher-student ratios or by otherwise redesigning processes that allow for more effective use of teacher time; and

9) Realizing opportunities for economies of scale through reuse of materials and their large-scale distribution.

http://ctl.sri.com/news/ImplicationsOnlineLearning2.pdf

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