Online courses and their negative impact on the most vulnerable students

DISCOVERED IN THE AMERICAN PRESS. The weaker the students are, the more negatively online courses have an impact on their results. This is the observation made by the American think tank Brookings. To reach this conclusion, the latter analyzed the results of 230,000 students enrolled at DeVry University.

Are online courses in higher education as effective as face-to-face courses? An extensive study by Brookings, a leading American think tank, provides some answers to this simple question.

Two researchers have analyzed 230,000 results from students enrolled at DeVry, an American private university based in Illinois, but which has around fifty campus locations in the country. The school offers courses in person or online – students can choose the format that best suits them for each course. Both versions offer the same content, with the same expectations and final exams.

Different results for the weakest students

The results obtained by the researchers are enough to disappoint the apostles of digital technology. For the same course, Students who followed the face-to-face version achieved significantly better exam grades than those who followed the online version. Additionally, taking an online course lowers the student's GPA the following semester. The dropout rate is also higher for online students (by nine points).

Importantly, the study shows that the negative effects of online courses are greater for students with the greatest difficulties. The online course is neutral for very good students. But The weaker the student, the more ineffective the online offer is. However, online courses are aimed specifically at “non-traditional” students. These flexible formats are intended to adapt to the schedules of young people who work part-time, have family restrictions, cannot travel, are returning to class after being away for several years, etc.

The contribution of artificial intelligence

However, the Brookings report falls far short of concluding that distance learning is useless. On the contrary, he remembers it Online makes it possible to reach new audiences and is often aimed at people who would not have even enrolled in university if this option was not offered.

The authors conclude from this Online courses therefore need to improve significantly to help these new students succeed. In their opinion, the latest advances in artificial intelligence should help move forward in this direction.

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