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Researchers Strive to Improve Online Education

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Arizona State University's (ASU's) New American University project aims to enroll 100,000 students in online courses by 2012, which will require finding more effective ways of providing instruction online. "Learning can be as effective online as it can be face to face," says ASU professor James Klein, who is investigating the use of collaborative learning in several settings, including online and in the classroom. Klein's research has explored the effects of collaboration in such settings on students from public schools, community colleges, universities, and corporate training sessions for working adults. One study examined how to teach teachers online and help them integrate technology into their classrooms. "The continued proliferation of online courses means we must continue to do research in this area," Klein says. "What we know is that interaction increases learning."

Klein's research has revealed that people who work face to face have higher positive attitudes than people who work online, but that online students learn as much as students in the classroom. Overall, students prefer working together over individual studying, but collaborative efforts do not necessarily result in better information retention, and forced online interaction results in lower student motivation. Klein says because online courses could have a significant impact on higher education it is important to develop well-designed tools, strategies, and interactions.

From ASU News
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