The potential of online learning to save money is obvious, but can students learn as well from online instruction as they can from face-to-face teaching? The results of a recent randomized trial study suggest that they can indeed. Six-hundred and five students taking seven statistics courses at six different campuses participated in the study, with half taking the course in a traditional format and half taking the course in a hybrid online format. Students taking the hybrid format were just as likely as students taking the traditional format to pass the course. The study also found no differences between the two groups on scores on both the course final exams and a post-course standardized test of statistics.
Another good sign for the potential of online learning: The researchers found that while the students taking the hybrid online course learned just as much as the students in the traditional course, the hybrid online course took up 25 percent less of their time. [“Online Learning in Higher Education,” by William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, Kelly A. Lack, and Thomas I. Nygren, Education Next, Spring 2013]