Just how effective technology can be in improving education — by making students more effective, more engaged learners — is a subject of debate. To date, education research shows that good teachers matter a lot, class size may be less important than once thought and nothing improves student performance as much as one-on-one human tutoring. If technology is well designed, experts say, it can help tailor the learning experience to individual students, facilitate student-teacher collaboration, and assist teachers in monitoring student performance each day and in quickly fine-tuning lessons.
The article also gives a specific example of technology in action with significant impact on the students’ retained learning while improving productivity of the course.
Among the projects that have successfully used online technology is the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, which has adopted hybrid models of digital and classroom teaching to accelerate learning. In one project, a college statistics course was taught in two different ways using comparable groups of students: a traditional class lasted 15 weeks, with four class meetings a week, whereas a hybrid one of online course material held two classroom sessions a week.
The hybrid class lasted half as long — seven-and-a-half weeks — as the traditional setting. Yet the students’ test scores and retained learning, measured later in the year, were as high as or higher than those of the conventional lecture class, said Candace M. Thille, director of the initiative.
In short, the hybrid approach doubled the productivity of education in that program. The course materials, which have been modified for community colleges, have been introduced at 25 two-year colleges this fall.