Basic controlled research into e-learning

I’ve been scouring the literature recently to see if I can find some evidence of the impact of e-learning and the use of some Web 2.0 tools on student learning outcomes.  I haven’t yet found anything much of note.  A number of the papers I’ve read end up highlighting the need for more research.

Donald Clark had an interesting post today about spaced practice in learning.  However, given my current train of thought it was Donald’s P.S. that particularly caught my attention.  He says:

Speaking to Dr Itiel Dror, he was aghast at the lack of basic knowledge in the psychology of learning in learning professionals. He also suggested some basic controlled research into a traditional lecture versus the same lecture on video (with learner control) and the same lecture in an e-learning format. Seems obvious but it hasn’t been done – or has it?

Has anyone done this?  Is anyone currently doing this?  Can anyone point me to anything that’s been published?


  1. Hi
    Some comparative work has definitely been done but generally isn’t held up as being the best research. Which outcomes would you use? Would you know why one mode was more successful than the other through that kind of trial?
    Educational interventions are complex and deserve complex evaluation. I’m not saying that a controlled trial can’t be part of that.
    I hope you get some interesting replies!
    Anne Marie

  2. You might want to browse some previous posts on my blog as I’ve been trying to gather research on interval based reinforcement and spaced practice. You should also check out Will Thalheimer’s blog as he has a strong focus on research led design of learning interventions. Look forward to your comments.

  3. Anne Marie – It’s your point about the research that’s been done not being held up as the best that I think is the main issue. I suppose it’s still early days in some senses and in fairness I’ve seen a number of authors stress the need for more research.

    Lars – Many thanks for your comments and pointing me to your blog, I will take a look at this together with Will Thalheimer’s. I noticed from your comment on Donald’s blog that you presented at Learning Technologies, do you know if the presentations from LT are available online?

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