Why Online Education Works

My essay at Cato Unbound, Why Online Education Works, goes beyond much of the recent discussion to give specific examples of how online teaching increases the productivity and quality of education. Here is one bit:

Dale Carnegie’s advice to “tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said” makes sense for a live audience. If 20% of your students aren’t following the lecture, it’s natural to repeat some of the material so that you keep the whole audience involved and following your flow. But if you repeat whenever 20% of the audience doesn’t understand something, that means that 80% of the audience hear something twice that they only needed to hear once. Highly inefficient.

Carnegie’s advice is dead wrong for an online audience. Different medium, different messaging. In an online lecture it pays to be concise. Online, the student is in control and can choose when and what to repeat. The result is a big time-savings as students proceed as fast as their capabilities can take them, repeating only what they need to further their individual understanding.

More at the link including a discussion of how most of my teaching career happened in 15 minutes.

Responses from Siva Vaidhyanatha (Robertson Professor in Media Studies at the University of Virginia), Alan Ryan (former Warden of New College, Oxford) and Kevin Carey (Director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation) follow later this week.


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