lpress writes "A Columbia University study of the efficacy of "traditional online classes" concluded that “the online format had a significantly negative relationship with both course persistence and course grade, indicating that the typical student had difficulty adapting to online courses.”
A review of the study reports that online results were poor across the board, but there the results were not homogeneous. For example “males, Black students, and students with lower levels of academic preparation experienced significantly stronger negative coefficients for online learning compared with their counterparts". Some courses — social science and professional school classes — also fared poorly online.
The study concludes with four policy recommendations to cope with the problems they found, but only one — wholesale improvement of courses seems viable and we may be learning how to do that in MOOCs."