Internet AgeIn teaching Mathematics, is the conventional classroom teaching more productive than online classes?
In my school board, we offer online courses in addition to the standard courses offered in a classroom. Without a doubt, the failure rate in the online courses is far higher than in the standard classroom which suggests that conventional classrooms are more productive than online classrooms. However, I think the primary issue with online classroom is the students' approaches, in that many seem to assume that they don't have to do the work since they don't attend any classes. I think for some people, an online course may be more productive than a conventional classroom, since that person can go at his/her own rate instead of being limited by the pace of the average student in the room. I do think that those people are in the minority though.
I think the most successful classroom involves a balance of traditional and technological teaching methods. Students, whether for better or for worse, gravitate towards technologies that catch their attention, and teachers are beginning to use those technologies in class. However, the key phrase should be in class -- as in, a literal location. Students will always learn better via human-to-human, face-to-face interaction than they will through any online forum, even including technologies such as Skype. When the teacher is literally present, he or she can provide many more of the kinesthetic tools necessary for a student to learn, as well.
I have never tried to teach math online, but I have taught science and language arts online. There are advantages and disadvantages, but the technological aspect is the biggest possible detractor for math. It is so much easier to write with a pen and paper than a computer. Although there are online white boards, Skype-like services and instant message, as well as programs, it still is not as intuitive.
I think that, for struggling students, learning online would be considerably more difficult than in a traditional classroom. It's hard to explain a challenging concept if you aren't face-to-face, unless the student is at or above grade level.
As we learn how to teach online, we may find better ways to reach struggling students, but I haven't seen any evidence that we're there yet.
I don't teach math, but I was took higher level math throughout high school and college. I can't imagine I would have been as successful as I was without having someone to talk to and work out my problems with. I think some classes lend themselves very well to online types of delivery, but I don't see math as one of them.