The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning from Schools: A Scoping Review

Keith Topping (Lead / Corresponding author), Walter Douglas, Derek Robertson

    Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper

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    During the corona-virus pandemic, many schools turned to online and blended learning in various forms to provide education for children who were not allowed in school. Papers have begun to appear on managing online and blended learning in a pandemic (e.g., Doucet, Netolicky, Timmers, & Tuscano, 2020), but these are typically just giving advice and listing resources with no evidential basis. We do not know how well schools have been delivering online learning, and probably there was great variation between schools (and possibly between teachers). Undoubtedly the transition from classroom work to online work has been extremely demanding for many teachers. Further, disadvantaged students may be less likely to have computers and wifi connections at home (although they may be more able to access material delivered to mobile phones), and so the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students seems likely to increase. The aim of this review is to explore the research literature on the effects of online or blended learning from schools to see whether it is better, worse or the same as traditional face-to-face classroom learning, in order that teachers might be better informed. If online or blended learning turns out to be as good as or similar to classroom learning, teachers may wish to extend their involvement in it even after children are able to return to school. Of course, there may be local lockdowns which require only a limited number of children to be in school, and blended learning would be ideal in that instance. The developed skills in delivering online learning should not be lost by simple reversion to “what we always did before”. Thus, this project also aims to extract evidence-based teaching principles which teachers can actually put into practice. Of course, online learning may be good for some sub-groups of students but not others, and this needs to be made clear also.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationDundee
    PublisherUniversity of Dundee
    Number of pages138
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2020


    • Online learning
    • Blended learning
    • digital learning


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