Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blended Learning is Better than Face-to-Face Learning

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Now that I have your attention with that controversial subject line, I’d like to share with you findings from a large meta-analysis that was presented at the Educause ELI Annual Meeting this week. Dr. Barbara Means (Director, Center for Technology in Learning, SRI International) presented the following:

The main findings from the meta-analysis1 was that classes with online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than classes with solely face-to-face instruction. The mean effect size2 was +0.20, p < .001.


• There was no significant difference between students learning purely online compared with those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction (mean effect size +0.05, favoring online but not significant)

• Blended instruction (combining online and face-to-face elements) had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face (mean effect size +0.35, favoring blended, p < .0001)

• Effect sizes were larger for studies in which the online instruction was collaborative or instructor-directed than in those studies where online learners worked independently

View Dr. Means ELI presentation: Blended Learning Designs: A Learning Science Perspective

1 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010:

2 An effect size is similar to a z-score in that it is expressed in terms of units of standard deviation. It is defined as the difference between the treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation.

1 comment:

  1. I have been immersed in an online environment for three years and have experienced a real growth in the area. I would have to say that the outcomes of an online student are dependent on several factors. The most important being the motivation of the student, and their ability to learn in a constructivist environment. Learners who are willing to take the responsibility for their own learning prosper here.

    Learners who cannot self-motivate, or are unwilling to try new technologies seem to flounder, and require much more teacher interaction. I have personally had students who contact me the first week of classes indicating they are taking their first online course, and are apprehensive. After a few weeks of hand holding, and 2-3X week phone calls, the students feel empowered to take on the online environment.

    With all of this being said, I believe a blended format is beneficial to many students. This format can pave the way for fully online potential in a student and program.
    A. McLaughlin