Does Technology Lower the Cost of Education without Reducing Quality? A Financial Modeling Approach to Flipping the Classroom
73 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2020
Date Written: September 17, 2020
Colleges and universities are rapidly expanding their use of technology to flip courses, where at least some of the content delivered synchronously in a traditional class is converted to asynchronous materials (e.g., recorded videos) the students learn from online in lieu of attending class. Flipped courses offer the potential to improve the quality of education and lower the cost of delivering it. However, the question of whether flipped courses are fulfilling this potential remains unanswered. I address this gap in the literature by developing a model that compares the cost of a flipped course to its traditional version. The model solves the problem of comparing the uneven cost structure of a flipped course, with its large upfront investment in asynchronous materials followed by lower subsequent costs because of the reduction in synchronous sessions, to its traditional version, with its relatively constant cost per offering. With this model, a new pooled cross-section database consisting of 2,060 students enrolled in seven cohorts over a six-year period, and the application of rigorous educational-quality metrics, I test the hypothesis of whether technology lowers the cost of education without diminishing quality. I report consistent evidence of a significant decrease (36% on average) in the cost of developing and delivering a flipped course relative to its traditional version without a reduction in quality. I also show the circumstances under which a flipped course can be more expensive than its traditional version, and demonstrate how the model can be a practical tool for deciding when it makes sense to invest in technology and how to do so.
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Keywords: EdTech, Flipped Classroom, Financial Modeling
JEL Classification: G00, G31,
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation