New Poll Shows Faculty Prefer Web-Enhanced Courses to Either Classroom-Only or Distance-Only Courses

April 17, 2001

Lynnfield, MA — A new e-Learning Poll from WebCT, the worlds leading provider of integrated e-learning systems for higher education, shows strong faculty preference for web-enhanced classroom instruction over either traditional classroom-only instruction or online-only distance education.  Faculty also say student learning achievement is maximized in courses that combine online and classroom elements.



The e-Learning Poll, the findings of which WebCT has released for National Distance Learning Week (April 15-21), shows that 66 percent of respondents rate combination courses as either above average or excellent in overall quality, versus 52% for classroom-only courses and 44% for distance courses.  67 % of respondents deem combination courses above average or excellent in terms of student learning achievement, well ahead of the 47% figure for classroom-only courses and 37% for distance courses.  Combination classes also lead by similar margins in terms of student and faculty satisfaction.


The e-Learning Poll findings on student learning achievement echo results from research conducted by Murray Goldberg, WebCT founder and President of WebCT/Canada, that became the pedagogical foundation of WebCT.  In 1995, the University of British Columbia (UBC) awarded Goldberg a grant to explore the impact of the Web on learning outcomes.  Goldbergs research grouped students into three groups:  online-only, classroom-only and combination, then measured student learning outcomes.  While students in the online-only and classroom-only environments performed equally well, students in the combination classroom and online group performed best of all.  As the result of this research, Goldberg developed WebCT as a way to apply innovative technologies to facilitate course preparation and enrich students’ learning experiences. 


Good, effective teaching involves lots of interactivity – between faculty and students and between students and students.  Thats where the learning ‘magic takes place, said Goldberg.

 Some students are comfortable participating in the classroom.  Others  —  because of shyness or language barriers or learning style – prefer participating online.  Adding online components to a classroom course increases the number of students who participate somehow, which improves student learning outcomes. 


Goldberg also noted  that the WebCT e-Learning Poll results reflect the current state of the higher education e-learning field in several important respects.  First, faculty preference for combination online/classroom courses reflects existing institutional usage patterns for online course management systems such as WebCT.   Approximately 75% of WebCTs customer base use WebCT to deliver web-enhanced classroom-based courses, versus 25%, which use WebCT to deliver true distance courses.   


Second, low faculty satisfaction with distance courses may be attributable to the still-relatively nascent stage of distance learning field, which has grown and matured dramatically over the past year.  While 74% of poll respondents say their institutions offer distance courses, fully 68%  would rate the quality of their institutions online-only courses as much better or better than a year ago.


The WebCT e-Learning Poll also reveals the impact of distance learning programs on higher education institutions.  73% of poll respondents say their institutions implementation of a distance learning program allowed their institution to reach and serve new student populations.   42% said implementation of a distance learning program effected a change in intellectual property policies; 31% said it effected changes in facilities, and 27% said it generated a change in faculty compensation policies.


About WebCT

WebCT is the worlds leading provider of integrated e-learning systems.  Nearly 2000 colleges and universities are using WebCTs products and services to transform the educational experience for more than 5.9 million students.  These students have seats in an average of 1.9 WebCT courses, for a total of 11.2 million student accounts – a key metric for the industry, indicating the products widespread deployment at higher education institutions.  Consortia in 16 American states and four Canadian provinces, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and the Consortium of Distance Education have licensed WebCT for their member institutions, making it a de facto standard in higher education.


WebCTs academic heritage and philosophy continue to be reflected in new versions of its flagship course management system.  Both the Standard and Campus Editions of WebCT are user-friendly, give faculty members the pedagogical flexibility to teach their own way, provide tools to enhance interaction between students and faculty, and offer the broadest selection of quality course material and well-designed content from all of the major college textbook publishers.  The Campus Edition of WebCT also gives institutions a robust, scaleable product suitable for large-scale implementation across multiple servers as well as features for enhanced scaling and integration with campus portals and student information systems.  The company also offers a wide range of related consulting services, including implementation and technology planning, software training, faculty and course development, integration and technical consulting, premium support, all of which are customized to meet an institutions particular needs.  For more information, visit the WebCT site: