Combining Classroom and Online Courses to Improve Learning

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Online learning often gets a bad rap. As we’ve written before, the remote, automated nature of these programs can make them feel too low-touch to provide the same quality learning experience students can receive in the classroom. And often, that’s the case. When each student is simply clicking through a standardized lesson and answering a few multiple choice questions at the end, it’s no wonder the learning feels superficial.

But, of course, professors in large classroom settings have a similar challenge: how to make the curriculum feel high-touch and personalized for each student, when no two students need exactly the same support (and in many cases, it’s unclear what kind of support any student needs.)

Here at Quantified, we’re intrigued by the idea of blending classroom and online learning (or “sticks and clicks,” as one writer for Forbes called it) to improve the overall experience.

What if professors could use aggregate data from students’ results in online lessons to tailor their curricula to meet their classes’ unique needs? What if students could go home after class and click through an online supplement to the modules that cover the material they felt least comfortable with? In turn, the professor can look at trends in which modules the students are spending most time on and be sure to give that material a little extra attention before the final exam. With the virtual classroom supporting the campus classroom and vice versa, each student has access to the support he or she needs, and each professor has a clearer understanding of what those students need in the first place. The result: improved learning for everyone.

The Quantified communication analytics platform is designed specifically to support that goal.

Our online learning platform goes far beyond traditional, standardized virtual lessons and helps higher-ed students and their professors achieve significant, measurable, lasting improvement in their leadership communication skills. Students simply upload a video, and then our application uses natural language processing, facial and vocal analysis, and machine learning to score them based on the effectiveness of their content, visual and verbal delivery, and overall presence. Then, the application provides specific feedback and resources, created by experts, tailored to their unique communication skills. So not only do students know how they’re doing and why—they know exactly what they need to do to improve.

On the administrator side, professors and program leaders can view their students’ aggregate data to understand where, as a whole, students are excelling or struggling, then tailor their lesson plans accordingly to ensure the classroom experience is relevant and productive for every particular group.

So does it work?

We’ve used Quantified’s platform in business schools across the country, and the cohorts we’ve worked with have seen amazing results. Last year, we implemented a program to help Wharton’s eMBA students improve their leadership communication abilities using our platform. We analyzed communication samples from fifty-four students, showing them their initial scores, the areas in which they were already proficient, the areas in which they could stand to improve, and custom feedback tailored to their current skillsets.

When we analyzed the students’ second communication samples, after they’d had time to understand their scores and work on their development opportunities, we saw an average overall increase of 17.4 percent.

It’s not online learning in and of itself that’s ineffective—it’s learning in any medium that’s too standardized to support individual students’ skills development needs. If we could use personalized online lessons to support the personalization of the classroom experience—without draining professors’ already limited time and resources—just think how much better prepared our students would be to excel in life after school.