In the education world there is often a stigma attached to online learning that it is not as effective as traditional learning in the classroom. While there are reasons to believe learning in a classroom setting would result in higher student success than learning online, evidence from Perceivant, an educational technology company that provides cost-effective and interactive digital courseware, shows that students who take a course online can be just as successful as those who take the same course in the classroom.
Because Perceivant replaces traditional textbooks with digital content that is accessible from their platform and mobile app, their courses can be taught in the classroom, online, or a hybrid of both. This has allowed them to collect data from tens of thousands of students taking the same courses but in different settings. At Kennesaw State University (KSU) more than 30,000 students have taken the WELL 1000 course, using Pereivant’s platform, since 2015. Over this time, the student pass rating for the course, which focuses on health and wellness, has been 80% or higher and average student grades have been 3.0 or higher, regardless of whether students took the course in the classroom or online. According to Jason Konesco, President of Perceivant, this success is generated from the strong partnership between the company and KSU.
”When the right technology is combined with effective teaching, students are able to flourish online in ways that dismantle the current day stigma of online learning,” says Konesco. “Faculty members and students at KSU have embraced Perceivant’s technology and courseware by maximizing the available tools and features, which has resulted in enhanced student outcomes.”
Obstacles to learning in an online setting may always persist, including less opportunity for interaction between students and professors, large class sizes, and professors not being able to easily recognize students who are struggling and need help. However, with the proper course structure and diligent educators, according to Mia Oberlton, a WELL 1000 coordinator at KSU, there are measures to ensuring student success in an online setting.
“For online students, you must be present more on the platform and provide opportunities to communicate with you as an instructor,” says Oberlton. “Communication and being present on the platform is key in the success of students. Particularly, reaching out to students who fall behind.”
Perceivant’s platform offers analytics and real-time data to boost student engagement and provide educators with an easier, more efficient solution to analyze course efficacy. The platform allows instructors to identify students who are at the highest risk of failing or dropping out, quickly message supplemental outreach to these at-risk students, and view individual click history to know if and when these students have accessed particular assignments. According to Brian Rowe, CEO of Perceivant, the platform is all about making it easier for instructors to improve outcomes.
“We recognize the challenge that instructors face in increasingly distanced teaching environments with potentially higher student-to-instructor ratios,” Rowe says. “We wanted to help them with a tool that was easy to use so they could intervene with students that might be starting to struggle in their class. With early intervention an instructor can help a student before they fall too far behind.”
According to Oberlton, how the course was organized has been a key to its success at KSU. “Because we have aligned both the online and on-ground versions of the class closely, no matter what modality the students choose, they will have a similar experience as it relates to content, self-assessments, quizzes, physical activity challenges, and completing the healthy living check-in.”
Perceivant offers customizable solutions for all of its courses, making them easy to adapt for any learning environment and student or educator need. Additionally, the platform allows for real-time changes that make it easier to move from traditional learning to online learning or vice versa. According to Oberlton, Perceivant’s hands-on approach to course development was a critical factor in the course’s success.
“We have enjoyed using Perceivant because we were able to assist in the development of how we wanted our course to look and be administered,” says Oberlton. “We made several suggestions and ideas and Perceivant created them.”
There will still be cases of online learning in which students do not perform as successfully as with traditional learning, with poorly managed platforms and no means for interaction. However, online learning, when led by responsible instructors using platforms designed to handle the challenges of the environment, can provide successful, positive learning outcomes.