Research ArticleECONOMICS

Online education platforms scale college STEM instruction with equivalent learning outcomes at lower cost

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Science Advances  08 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 15, eaay5324
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay5324

Abstract

Meeting global demand for growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce requires solutions for the shortage of qualified instructors. We propose and evaluate a model for scaling up affordable access to effective STEM education through national online education platforms. These platforms allow resource-constrained higher education institutions to adopt online courses produced by the country’s top universities and departments. A multisite randomized controlled trial tested this model with fully online and blended instruction modalities in Russia’s online education platform. We find that online and blended instruction produce similar student learning outcomes as traditional in-person instruction at substantially lower costs. Adopting this model at scale reduces faculty compensation costs that can fund increases in STEM enrollment.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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