In today’s Pope Center piece, Gary Jason of Cal State–Fullerton writes about the evidence on the effectiveness of online courses. Apparently there is good reason to believe that many students learn at least as well online as they learn when they take a course face-to-face.
That seems right to me. No doubt it’s possible to find online courses that are college courses in name only, but that is also true of classroom courses. Students who have the motivation can master material without sitting in a classroom. Back in my law-school days, I knew students who never bothered coming to class, but who did exceptionally well on the exams. Of course, there is much that can be gained through personal interaction between student and professor, but not all students want that; moreover, online coursework doesn’t rule out such interaction.