Do People Learn Better in a Traditional Classroom?

Although it might be hard to believe, especially for those of us who teach
for a living, the answer is no. The majority of research in this field
indicates that students learn and retain information delivered at a distance or
online as well, if not better, as in a traditional classroom. (See
the No
Significant Difference Phenomenon site
for numerous citations.) This is
actually a pet peeve of mine -- I believe this question is the wrong one to ask
and I find it distressing that we have elevated the traditional classroom to a
divine decree. Although I like traditional instruction, as both a learner and
instructor, it is far from the only method of teaching and learning.
Homeschoolers, and others involved in non-traditional educational endeavors,
have already learned that the one-size-fits-all traditional classroom is not
always the best solution. Furthermore,?distance?and online
learning?offers the opportunity to incorporate your academic endeavors into
your personal, vocational, and ministry efforts. Some programs even build-in
this relationship by requiring a local mentor and practical application
assignments during each course. In such cases, the distance courses are probably
better than the classroom ones. I believe that for many subjects, online and
distance courses can be designed to be far superior to the equivalent
traditional classroom model by integrated learning and practice for established
students. Rather than focusing on "distance" or "online," focus on "learning"
and take advantage of the many opportunities that rooted learners have to
integrate and apply their learning.


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