Jul 192012

Blended Learning Is Better than Instructor-Led or Online Learning Alone

blended learning

Blended Learning: July 16, 2012 – by Ruth Colvin Clark

Every time a new technology emerges, trainers wonder if learning would be more effective using that technology compared to traditional instructor-led training. In fact the first media comparison study was conducted in the 1940s by the US Army. They compared learning of a basic calibration procedure with lessons delivered by (1) a traditional instructor-led class, (2) a book, or (3) a film. All three lessons used basically the same words and visuals (except that the film and instructor presented an animated demonstration of the procedure). All participants were tested after completing their assigned lesson, and no significant differences in learning emerged. Because the key instructional methods (eg words and pictures) were basically the same, all three versions led to equivalent learning.

Is Electronic Distance Learning Better?

Fast forward 50 years. Naturally, the advent of computers gave rise to the same question: Is online learning better than instructor-led? The accumulation of many research studies that compared learning in an instructor-led class to some form of electronic distance learning was the basis for a 2004 meta-analysis report from Bernard and colleagues. The team prepared the histogram of effect sizes shown below based on 318 different media comparison research studies.

blended learning




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