With the gamut of recent success stories of online education, a recent conversation has opened up reading a hybrid schooling system with some courses online and others in person. This is a topic that has come up in countless settings, including the Ivy League schools which have teamed up to provide a selected amount of free online education courses. During one conversation between a few leaders of various Ivy League schools, Harvard physics professor, Eric Mazur, shared his opinion during a conference about “Blended Models of Learning: Bringing Online to On-Campus.”
During this discussion, Mazur explains a study that was conducted to test students’ “emotion, cognition and attention” levels during various school activities. This study had students wear wristbands that measured skin conductance in order to obtain tangible evidence of a student’s reaction to different school work scenarios. The results showed that student were most attentive while they were studying, doing lab work, and working on homework while they were least attentive listening to lectures in class. This experiment shows the importance of balancing out lecture periods with hands-on work sessions- a task that is easily accomplished through online education. One of the major benefits of online education systems is the flexibility for a student to listen to online lectures at a time when they are most focused. The student is able to choose when to stop their lecture to focus on homework, and continue their lectures once they have gained more focus. Obviously, if you begin to lose focus during an on-campus lecture, you do not have the beneficial option to pause the lecture and return to it at a time when you feel more focused.
While online teaching covers the area of homework and self-studying, with potentially less time spent in lectures, it does not solve the third area in which students were most attentive- while completing lab work. This is where the hybrid of online-on campus should take place. After completing online work and self study sessions students would then further their studies by attending labs on campus. Whether these labs are for language, science, or even business management, studies show that student attentiveness is far greater during hands-on lessons.
Benefits of Online Schooling
While lab studies are most effective in an on-campus environment where students can work with others in a collaborative environment, there is something to be said for the spike in cognition when students were studying on their own, according to the study Mazur explained. Because an online course relies heavily on the work put in by each individual student, the ratio of homework and self-study compared to time listening to lectures is typically in the favor of the former.
Another benefit to consider is fact that students may complete classes in the comfort of their own home which may help a student better focus on the class material. A level of comfort can particularly constructive to students who are in religious studies or other personal subject matters. An online Christian school for example, allows a student to take classes in biblical teachings, in addition to a standard course load, in the comfort of their own home.
Because of the success of online education courses, more parents are considering online education as the primary option for their children, having on-campus courses as a supplementary course of action. To find out if an online education is best for your child, start by trying a few courses to see the benefits first-hand.
Written by Jared Beck of Calvary Online School.