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Luis A. Huerta,  (212) 531-1638,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Latest Review of Online Learning Reports Lacks Evidence of Rigor

Policymakers should seek more balanced and empirically robust assessments

EAST LANSING, Mich (April 3, 2012) –A report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute outlines a vision for how technology might transform the teaching profession. A new review of the report found little or no empirical research evidence to support its central claim that digital age technologies will improve the education system.

The report, Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction: Creating sound policy for digital learning, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Luis Huerta, an associate professor of education at Teachers College-Columbia University.  The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Huerta, in his review, writes that the report's rationale is based on claims that the current education system lacks the capacity to support revolutionary changes needed to unleash the technological innovations of online instruction that will yield increased effectiveness and efficiency.

The report explains that effective teachers are central to the demands of online instruction and will be even more necessary in the digital age than in the current system. Further, it asserts that the elements that constitute effective teaching can be broken down into discrete skills, packaged and then distributed to a wider group of learners via digital media.

Huerta considers that while the report does address an important topic, the impact of effective teaching, the empirical research evidence to support its fundamental premise is insufficient and inadequate.

Consequently, he concludes, the report amounts to only an advocacy document that outlines a vision of what changes might be necessary as the digital revolution comes of age in public education.

Find Luis Huerta's review on the Great Lakes Center website at:
Find Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction, by Brian and Emily Hassel on the web at:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications.  The project is made possible in part from funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:


The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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