The results of this study are remarkable; they show comparable learning outcomes for this basic course, with a promise of cost savings and productivity gains over time.

Deanna Marcum
Managing Director, Ithaka S+R

Background: In 2007, Carnegie Mellon conducted a series of “do no harm” studies with the OLI statistics course. The studies show that students using the OLI course, as an online course with minimal instructor contact, performed as well or better than students in traditional instructor-lead classes.

This 2011 study conducted by ITHAKA, a nonprofit research organization, demonstrates the same results using the OLI statistics course outside of Carnegie Mellon—in several large public institutions.

This study contributes to answering the question “Is online better or worse than traditional instruction?”In the follow-on study, on which ITHAKA is currently working, they are looking at the degree to which the variability in outcome is explainable by the way the instructors and students use the OLI course to support teaching and learning. That work will contribute to answering the (more interesting) question “How can the online environment be used most effectively by teachers and students to improve outcomes and reduce cost?”

Bowen, W.G., Chingos, M.M., Lack, K.L., & Nygren, T.I. (2012). Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials. ITHAKA.