Over four years, nearly half of Virginia community college students enrolled in an online course, but few took classes entirely online. Students with stronger academic preparation were more likely to enroll in online courses, but failure rates were higher.
In addition, students who took online coursework in early semesters were slightly less likely to return to school in subsequent semesters, and students who took a higher proportion of credits online were slightly less likely to attain an educational award or transfer to a four-year institution.
Few hybrid classes combining both online and face-to-face instruction were offered, so it’s not clear if these classes have lower success rates.
Many online instructors “import traditional pedagogy and materials to the web,” researchers concluded. Professors don’t have the time or training to redesign their courses for the web; not much is known about what works.
The Gates Foundation is funding a CCRC study in Virginia to identify effective online teaching, particularly in developmental and gatekeeper English and math courses.