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Efficiency and effectiveness of distance education

10/17/2013 category: others 

Backgrounds and scope: Efficiency of e-learning can be considered in many dimensionsbut methodological and financial aspects seem to be most important among them. The firstone is usually measured by the grades that online students get at the end of a course orlecture. Final grades however do not indicate the extent to what means and methods appliedin that process have influenced its real efficiency. Such information we can get only when theresults of e-learning are compared with adequate content taught in traditional classroom.Another important issue of e-learning is the amount of money that must be spent onthis type of education by the university. Those, who are responsible for implementing elearningsolutions, must take into account not only the costs of providing necessary technicalinfrastructure but, first of all, the money spent on preparing e-learning content and onsalaries for online teachers and instructors. Only the proper balance between these twovalues – methodological and financial efficiency can establish good conditions fordevelopment of e-learning at university level.

COE research and results: Research on efficiency carried out by COE SGH was aimed not only at assessing the results of e-learning activity of the university but also at identifying the main factors that determine efficiency of that activity. Huge number of participants of elearning courses at SGH establishes proper conditions for such research. For instance, a research study led in academic year 2006/2007 involved more than 2000 students.
Comparative analysis of the results gained by those students in traditional and online learning has shown that e-learning forms and methods applied at SGH have been appropriate and adequately used.

A complete system of compensation for preparing the content and tutoring online classes has also been elaborated at COE SGH (there are currently 45 full online lectures at SGH). It is worth to be mentioned that such a complete solution was the first one implemented in Polish tertiary education institution. This system takes into account didactic value of e-learning courses as well as the content they are based on and the number of students taking part in those classes.

As far as the cost effectiveness of e-learning is concerned in the research carried out by COE SGH both financial and nonfinancial factors are taken into account. Among them ROI and ROE are the most important independent measures. As a complex measure a 4-level model elaborated by Kirckpatrick or its extended version known as 5-stage Philip’s model can be applied. It must be stressed however, that all of them have been elaborated for traditional teaching and training. In e-learning the necessity of measuring its effectiveness leads either to modification of already existing instruments or to elaboration of completely new tools originating from those used in traditional forms of education.

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