College teachers are increasingly using instructional technology to
supplement or substitute for face-to-face instruction. The incentives and
arguments for doing so are many, including facilitation of higher
education for non-traditional students and changing student demographics,
skill building to improve student preparation for workplaces that are
likely to use computer technology, space restrictions in universities with
growing enrollment, the opportunities that Internet classrooms provide for
organizing and monitoring student work and assignments, and so on.
However, little is known about how online instruction affects the learner.
Online instruction is, in many ways, fundamentally different from
face-to-face instruction (see, for example, Lee
2003; McCormack and Jones 1998; Palloff and Pratt 1999). For instance, instructors are
unlikely to simply post their lecture notes online in the hope that the
students will read, take notes, memorize, and retain the information,
which would be the closest equivalent to a traditional lecture classroom.
Consequently, it cannot be assumed that different instructional modes
(such as lectures or online instruction) necessarily have the same learner
outcomes. This lack of knowledge concerning the effects of online
instruction on learner outcomes also extends to the question of gender
equality.Authors are listed in reverse
alphabetical order. We gratefully acknowledge financial support for both
the redesign and the evaluation of the course from the Pew Learning and
Technology Program, Center for Academic Transformation, Pew Grant Program
in Course Redesign.