Department of Education Study Shows Online Education’s Effectiveness

By Brenda on July 19th, 2011



A recent meta-analysis commissioned by the United States Department of Education shows that online postsecondary may be more effective than face to face learning when studying the same subject. The analysis found that students who studied the same subject online performed better than those who took the same class in a traditional brick and mortar institution.

The meta analysis took data from over 1,000 empirical studies on online education that were published between the dates of 1996-2008 to form their conclusions. There has been Meta analysis of similar focus that lacked the scope of this analysis. The difference between this analysis and ones of the past shows that online learning has a distinct advantage over face to face learning. The results were a surprise to some but provided more ammunition for proponents of online learning who have been relying on anecdotal evidence to support their arguments.

While the report gives a glowing review of online learning it shows that technology such as videos, puzzles, and interactive software are not the cause for increased learning. The authors of the report note that it is the increased time spent by students that contribute to their success. Authors noted that students who pursue postsecondary education spend more time focusing on curriculum than students who attend class.

The study seems to reinforce the old adage that the benefits one derives from something is directly correlated with how much time and effort they put into what they are doing.

So if time is what it takes to be successful in online schooling how much time should students spend studying? Let’s find out.

The rule of thumb is for every credit or unit a student takes they should study two hours outside of class. Online education is a different animal and has its own requirements. A study conducted by a university showed that the most successful online students consistently studied 9-15 hours per course. That said, students who take two courses will need to study 18-30 hours per week.

The study showed that the successful online students spread that time out over the week in little chunks rather than spending long amounts of time studying at once.

The study tracked their online habits and showed the following behavior patterns:

  • Logged in to their online course every day
  • Commenced coursework as soon as it was received
  • Kept up with reading assignments
  • Contributed more in class through online postings, emails, and discussions than their less successful peers
  • Interfaced with instructors from the onset of the course



Category: Computers and Technology,Online Degrees,Other and General