What researchers learned about online higher education during the pandemic


Kameshwari Shankar watched for years as college and university courses were increasingly taught online instead of face to face, but without a definitive way of understanding which students benefited the most from them, or what if anything they learned.

As an associate professor of economics at City College in New York, Shankar knew that one of the most important requirements of scientific research was often missing from studies of the effectiveness of online higher education: a control group.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing almost everyone on earth online and creating a randomized trial on a planetary scale with a control group so big, it was a researcher’s wildest dream.



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