College students’ time

“[C]ollege students really don’t work that hard, on average.”

So concludes Chad Aldeman in this post on The Quick and the Ed, and the cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics support the claim: on average, full-time college students put a little more than three hours per day into education, for a total of about 16 hours per five weekdays. As Aldeman points out, this does not include work they do on weekends. I believe that Grinnell students do much more academic work than the average, for a variety of academic, cultural, and socioeconomic reasons, but that’s not my reason for posting.

Aldeman cites these statistics as part of an effort to deflate “the face-to-face gold standard”; he points out that comparisons of classroom and online learning sometimes reveal that some studies show online courses producing superior learning outcomes, sometimes (as Sara Goldrick-Rab puts it) “because the amount of actual instructional time in online courses is greater than that in classroom settings.”

My question is this: what would the data look like for classroom courses with substantial online components, components that do create increased instructional time outside of class? Do online activities replace other kinds of instruction, or do they increase the overall time teachers and students spend on classroom-based courses? Reader, have you any thoughts?