E-learning is cheaper than people think, report suggests
Online learning can save an institution or business a lot of money, according to a new report. The Cost of Online Learning from Fordham's Creating Sound Policy for Digital Learning series suggested that full-time virtual classrooms cost around $6,400 (£4,167) per pupil. Blended schools - those which combine online learning with face-to-face teaching - could cost up to $8,900 per learner, while traditional brick-and-mortar schools cost on average $10,000. A team from strategic advisor Parthenon led by researcher Tammy Battaglino concluded that the benefits of e-learning are clearly seen through this cost-effectiveness when compared to traditional learning methods. The report suggested that "new technology-rich education models will need to be evaluated based on their productivity". Commenting on the report's findings, Tom Vander Ark, blogger for GettingSmart.com and writer for the Huffington Post said: "Transforming traditional schools to blended models will be difficult politically, technically and financially." Furthermore, the Parthenon analysis found that "almost all new virtual and blended schools to date have been start-ups, very few schools have attempted to convert from a traditional school to either a virtual or a blended model". Mr Vander Ark added: "It's worth mentioning that full and part-time online learning demands a new school finance system - the right level of funding with the right incentives and conditions." Grainne Conole, director of the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester recently commented that many teachers need help to successfully implement e-learning into their current lesson plans and teaching strategies. She mentioned that the development of online learning within school curriculums will help students to get a firm grasp on how to use modern technology for a variety of purposes. Additionally, teachers need to reconceptualise the way that they use e-learning to complement traditional classroom practises and make good use of modern technology, the expert claimed.