K-12: What Are The Pedagogical Advantages Of Online Learning, Compared To In-person Classroom Learning?

“Online learning can be as good or even better than in-person classroom learning. Research has shown that students in online learning performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction, but it has to be done right. The best online learning combines elements where students go at their own pace, on their own time, and are set-up to think deeply and critically about subject matter combined with elements were students go online at the same time, interacting with other students, their teacher, and content, and getting feedback.”

— Dr. Christine Greenhow, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, Michigan State University; 2018 Recipient of Michigan State’s Teacher-Scholar Award (Posted 6/22/2020)

“First and foremost, emergency remote teaching is a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate mode due to crisis circumstances. The primary objective is to quickly provide temporary, reliable access to instruction and support during a crisis, not to re-create a robust educational ecosystem (Hodges, 2020). Nonetheless, educators still aim to optimize quality of instruction, adapting to local conditions while relaxing accountability goals and measurements. But emergency remote teaching is not the same thing as distance learning; it is a situation of triage and we are all doing our best. This is an emergency and often accountability goals, evaluation, and assessment expectations are necessarily relaxed under such conditions.

Some pedagogical advantages of online learning platform use might include: 

• Ability for instructors to experiment with educational technology innovations and identify new (evidence-based) online learning activities that may augment student learning outcomes in ways they were not aware of;

• For students who have functioning technology devices and internet access, increased flexibility to engage based on personal preferences, with materials they are provided by their teachers in a variety of formats, which can leverage individual motivation (e.g., video, audio transcripts, visuals and graphics that are appropriately deployed and do not distract from but augment the core learning material and goals);

• For students who have high levels of self-regulatory capacity, they may benefit from self-paced projects that allow them to move ahead in their work more quickly;

• For students whose teachers deploy online learning management system platforms to deliver curriculum, some students may be better able to draw cognitive associations and linkages among digital content and organize and coordinate their thoughts and understanding through engagement with this content in a representational form online. However – in contrast, some students may actually struggle with the cognitive challenge of coordinating across digital content items: browser windows, files and other views on the computer. ”

— Rebecca B. Reynolds, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University (Posted 6/22/2020)