Online Learning Verses Classroom Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Online Learning as Effective as Classroom Learning

Online Learning Verses Classrom

In the contemporary times, developments in technology have expanded access to education. The internet and other technological advancements have created an efficient platform that facilitates online learning. This has redefined the traditional approach of learning which is done in physical classrooms. Students using this approach are not required to be physically present in classrooms in order to learn. There has been a steady increase in the number of students enrolling for online courses. This development has resulted in debates on the effectiveness of online learning platforms when compared to traditional learning in classrooms. This research aims to determine if online learning is as effective as classroom learning.

Literature Review

In order to compare online learning and classroom learning, it is crucial to analyze existing literature and researches on the topic. This approach will ensure that the research has a comprehensive outlook on the effectiveness of online education in contrast with traditional learning methods. The literature review suggests several outcomes. Firstly, the number of students enrolling for online education is growing and will continue to do so in the future. Secondly, students and stakeholders in education are accepting online learning. Thirdly, online education is flexible and student centered increasing its popularity. Fourthly, if traditional learning is not as effective as learning in traditional classrooms, other benefits of online learning become irrelevant. Finally,

Since its inception in the 1990s, online education has developed rapidly (Mitchell, 2009). This can be attributed to the society's changing perceptions about technology and technological advancements realized over time. The numbers of institutions that offer online education have increased significantly. Online learning is convenient for students since it is flexible and accessible for students who previously could not access education. Considering the increasing popularity of online education, it is prudent to explore the effectiveness of online education.

It is crucial to define some of the terms, which are synonymous with online education. These terms include internet or online courses, face-to-face, virtual interaction and learning effectiveness. Internet courses refer to lessons, which convey learning content using online platforms. Face-to-face classes refer to classes where there is physical interaction in order to convey learning content. Virtual interaction refers to the interaction of individuals via virtual platforms. Finally, learning effectiveness defines education that represents the unique quality of a learning institution.

Learning Effectiveness

According to Swan (2003), it is imperative to determine the effectiveness of online learning in order to encourage its inception as an acceptable learning approach the journal states that if traditional learning is not as effective as learning in traditional classrooms, other benefits of online learning become irrelevant. Swan (2003) defines learning effectiveness defines education that represents the unique quality of a learning institution. The conclusions in the article are that online environments have the capability to support learning outcomes that are equivalent to those realized after face-to-face instructions. Despite this, the author suggests that unique characteristics of the medium used to facilitate online learning may facilitate or impeded some kinds of earning. In order for online education to be efficient, it is suggested that the unique constraints should be ameliorated, and their advantages need to be capitalized upon by educators.

According to Legutko, (2007), the evidence collected shows that there are comparable learning outcomes disregarding the nature of the class either traditional or online. For many teaching instructors, the shift to online classes is a matter of grave worry. Some teaching instructors claim that online learning cannot reach the standards of in-class teaching. According to results from previous studies show that the claim from other instructors that in-house learning is better than online classes. This status is supported by results of the students during their midterm exams. The experts claim that the only barrier in switching to online learning from the traditional method of learning is the ability to adapt to the new method. In traditional learning institutions, many aspects make this system unique from the other modern method of online learning (Orellana, 2006). When an individual is a learning environment, there is active participation between the student and the instructor. This is different from the online system since the level of interaction between the student and the instructor is low. The aspect of direct contact between the instructor and the student is a crucial factor in ensuring the level understanding the content being presented. Students get the chance to asked questions hence students learn more efficiently than in other models.

Perceptions

According to Mitchell (2009), there are some concerns about the quality of education provided online. The author conducted case studies on the perception of online education among stakeholders. According to the research, 58% of universities that do not offer online courses perceived online education to be inferior to the traditional classroom method. Despite this perception, online students have begun to resemble traditional students (Hollenbeck, Zinkhan and French, 2005). This development has been interpreted to show that online education is developing to be efficient and has caught on with the traditional method. The research also extended to the perceptions of online degrees in the job market. Mitchell (2009) states that 98% of the committee chairs in the research preferred traditional academic qualifications to online degrees. It is evident that the perceptions of online education are diverse and need to be considered in research in order to validate them. Faculty perceptions have been used in research to determine the effectiveness of online learning.

Theoretical Rationale

The theoretical approach identified for the research is the interaction equivalency theory. The theory is suitable for the research since it is not complicated and it is suitable for analyzing distance education. The simple nature of the theory allows it to operate as a retrievable heuristic for the delivery of distance education. The significance of theory in education, science and instructional design has been discussed comprehensively. The theoretical approach enables the research to have a grounded theoretical investigation in order to determine the validity of the research question. This facilitates the research to go beyond data description and creates inferences about the research phenomena. This enables the research to interpret the meaning comprehensively.

The theory is suitable for the research based on the description provided by Wilson (1997) on the three functions of an efficient educational theory. Firstly, the theory illustrates the ability of humans to substitute their approach of interaction. Secondly, the theory highlights the influence of new technology on human interaction. The theory enables the research to determine the influence and effectiveness of the new technology. Finally, the theory ensures that the research is honest and critically analyzes the research question. This enables the research to determine the interaction between technology and education. In the research context, the effectiveness of online learning in contrast with traditional learning methods is analyzed using this theoretical approach. This determines how much face-to-face interaction or real time communication students require. These questions cannot be addressed easily but can be answered comprehensively using reflective discourse.

Most educators dealing with online education are committed to humanize the process. This is to be achieved by providing adequate interaction between the teacher and students. This aim is threatened by distance models, which give prominence to cost reduction and increased access by reducing the interaction between teachers and students. The theorem used in the research provides a scenario where long distance education can be successful and efficient. This approach ensures that the research determine the best practice in relation to online education and its effectiveness.

Purpose Statement

The aim of this research is to determine if online learning is as effective as classroom learning.

Research Question

Do online environments have the capability to support learning outcomes that are equivalent to those realized after face-to-face instructions?

Research Methodology

The research will involve a mixed-methods approach involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. This approach is suitable since the research is analyzing the characteristics of online learning vs. traditional learning. This enables the research to identify the variables, which influence the research objective. Quantitative approach will enable the research to describe the variables and infer the relationship between the variables in the research question. The study will use online email surveys to determine the effectiveness of online learning when compared to the traditional method. In order to determine the effective of online education, the experiences of university students will be compared with the experiences of university students participating in a traditional learning program. This will be done through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions which are qualitative methods. Both methods will have a sample of 25 participants each. The participants of the online program will be those involved in a minimum of 10 weeks of online class sessions. The traditional students are those participating in 3-hour classes for a minimum 10-week period.

The methods used in the traditional classes included group works, in-class writing, discussions and direct instructions. In the online courses, the methods included discussions; written activities submitted online and board discussions. Other expected methods are direct instruction…

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