Study: Online classes really do work

September 24, 2014
David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

Detailed quantitative study of learning online shows success, even among those with least preparation.

It’s been two years since a New York Times article declared the “year of the MOOC” —short for “massive open online courses.” Now, for the first time, researchers have carried out a detailed study that shows that these classes really can teach at least as effectively as traditional classroom courses — and they found that this is true regardless of how much preparation and knowledge students start out with.

The findings have just been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, in a paper by David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, along with three other researchers at MIT and one each from Harvard University and China’s Tsinghua University.

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