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Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity: Five Ways Online Learning Can Improve Education

Posted on Jun 5, 2012

A large part of the appeal of online learning seems to come from the belief that online learning is a means by which to improve the quality of education while simultaneously reducing the cost of that same education. Bakia, Shear, Toyama, and Lasseter offer an explanation for how these two seemingly opposing goals can both be met through online learning in their report, Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity, by discussing five key benefits of online learning.

The authors explain that online learning can 1) broaden access to resources and experiences, 2) engage students in active learning, 3) individualize and differentiate instruction, 4) personalize learning, and 5) maximize teacher and student time. These benefits achieve the goals of improving education and reducing costs either by making more effective use of resources or by allowing for an education that can focus on students as individuals, rather than as a group.

Online learning can allow students and teachers to connect on a potentially global level, eliminating concerns for geographic boundaries. Online learning software can be used to handle tedious administrative work, freeing up more time for teachers to focus on teaching, with the opportunity to focus on the needs of students, potentially on a case-by-case basis according to computer recommendations. It is by increasing efficiency that online learning can both reduce costs and improve quality when it comes to education.

Bakia, M., Shear, L., Toyama, Y., & Lasseter, A. (2012). Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity. Retrieved from

Josh Luthi is a computer science student at the University of Kansas and has a penchant for politics.

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