Computer college, let’s take another look.

It turns out that students taking online courses are more likely to fail than students who take real courses, according to a recent study of community college students conducted by researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University.

As Mary Ellen Flannery at NEA Today explains:

In a newly released study of 51,000 Washington State community college students… researchers found that students who took online courses were more likely to fail or drop out of the course than students who took the same course in person. Moreover, those students with the most Web credits were the least likely to graduate.

But even as the research shows that distance education may not be right for everybody – at least not without specific provisions to support both teachers and students – many state lawmakers and college administrators are racing toward increased virtual coursework that costs little and often turns a profit for private investors.

Of all students studied here, 85 percent who enrolled in real, physical courses completed them; only 74 percent of students who took online courses finished them.

It’s worth pointing out that this was a study of community college students in one particular state. It doesn’t necessarily follow that this is true everywhere, though the results certainly seem telling.

Read the research study here.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer