Online Learning Effectiveness Research

Twigg, Carol (2001) “Innovations in Online Learning: Moving Beyond No Significant Difference”

Read a summary of this online learning effectiveness study, or go directly to the link (above) for complete details of this study.


This paper gives examples of how a particular approach to improving quality can also reduce costs while increasing access. Even though the issues of quality, access, and cost are addressed in separate sections below, the interrelationships among them will become apparent.

There is a saying among aficionados of Thoroughbred racing: "It’s not how fast you run; it’s how you run fast." Our goal in this paper is to show that it’s not providing student services online; it’s how you provide student services online. It’s the difference between online office hours and Rio Salado College’s "Beep a Tutor" idea: immediate on-demand help for students having learning problems. It’s the difference between a campus bookstore that mails books to distance learners and a professor who provides a one-click link on a course Web site to a particular page so that students can order the required book.


Because certain types of students respond more positively to today’s versions of online courses, some institutions have thought about counseling students who may not be successful not to take online courses. Instead, we need to be more thoughtful about course design so that we include structures and activities that work well with diverse types of students.

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