We do need more studies of offline, online, and blended education models, but the evidence that we do have is supportive of the online model. In 2009, The Department of Education conducted a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies and found:
- Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.
- Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
- Effect sizes were larger for studies in which the online instruction was collaborative or instructor-directed than in those studies where online learners worked independently.
- The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types. Online learning appeared to be an effective option for both undergraduates (mean effect of +0.30, p < .001) and for graduate students and professionals (+0.10, p < .05) in a wide range of academic and professional studies.