National study says online learning students out-pace those in traditional classrooms

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LANSING – A recently released analysis of online learning “found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

The United States Department of Education (USDOE) analysis, “Evaluation of Evidence-based Practices in Online Learning, A Meta-analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies” (July 2009), screened 99 studies from 1996 through July 2008 that included online or blended learning and face-to-face instruction, measured student outcomes, used a rigorous research design and provided adequate information.

Online learning was found to be more effective when “blended” with face-to-face instruction. The report said the difference was larger in those studies that contrasted blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with entirely face-to-face instruction. This finding supports the generally held view that teachers are a critical element in learning, whether it’s in the classroom or online.

With the steady growth of online learning at all levels of education, this is the first comprehensive study that shows online learning to be more effective than face-to-face instruction. A recent survey estimated that more than a million K-12 students took online courses in the 2007-08 school year. Michigan was the first state to require all high school students to have an online learning experience in order to graduate. In the past decade, Michigan Virtual has provided more than 64,000 online course enrollments to middle and high school students in Michigan.

”Today’s education system is experiencing explosive growth with the use of online learning as an effective delivery model at all levels,” Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual president and CEO, said. “This latest study confirms that students, especially adult learners, can achieve as much or more in online learning environments as in traditional classrooms.”

The USDOE report was limited to studying the effect of interactive web-based instruction, as opposed to video- and audio-based courses or stand-alone, computer-based courses. Web-based instruction, or online learning, utilizes e-textbooks, audio and video instruction, discussion boards, email contact with the instructor and various other devices to engage the student.

The USDOE researchers said their findings should not be generalized to the K-12 level, because most of the studies analyzed were conducted on adult populations. The meta-analysis was prepared by the Center for Technology in Education for the USDE. The entire report is available on the Michigan Virtual website on the News – Articles and Reports page.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.