#LTEC6040, Online Learning, Research, SoTL

#LTEC6040 Asks, “Why Online?”

This academic semester I am fully immersed in online/digital scholarship of teaching and learning. This should not be a surprise, as I teach online and I’m often trying to figure out how distance/technology impacts learning. This year I am exploring HOW TO research digital teaching/learning practices in the courses I instruct and for the scholarship I’m drafting. According to Storify (soon to R.I.P. in May 2018), we’ve been talking about how to best define/label distributed learning for a while => here’s a Twitter thread captured from 3 years ago:  “State of ______ [insert: digital, online, etc.] Learning.” Under the umbrella term, distance education, comes a variety of ways to teach and learn. Additionally, the technological landscape in education has offered a number of ways to discuss, research, and design distributed learning. It’s complicated and challenging as the titles/labels for this type of teaching/learning hold many monikers in the empirical research: educational/learning technologies, networked learning, online education, blended learning environments, hybrid models, flipped learning, e-Learning, virtual environments, and more! Some technologies have the ability to design a flow of distributed learning that is seamless; whereas other digital facets create barriers and challenges.

Our learning spaces have a number of ways to infuse technology into distance education. With this comes even more ways to research and study these pedagogical practices for digital learning.  Regardless of the app, platform, or tool, we seem to have some aspect of “digital” infused into how we both teach and learn. As the options and variety of this online teaching/learning scholarship is broad, I am looking forward to supporting doctoral researchers who will identify one aspect of digital learning in our LTEC 6040: Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning (#LTEC6040 ) course. If you read this blog or connect with me on Twitter, you might see a few posts/shares using this hashtag to signal ideas and offer resources for these early career scholars as they work on investigating one piece of this distance/distributed learning pie.

The central focus of the #LTEC6040 course is to encourage doctoral researchers to define their own theory of online learning/teaching in context to:

  • Outlining empirical literature that supports (or refutes) their personal online learning/teaching theory
  • Identifying appropriate research methods to collect and analyze data connected to this personal online learning/teaching theory (small scale study)
  • Describing the ethical considerations and practices for this research study (e.g. IRB, recruitment, sample population, etc.)
  • Drafting an academic article manuscript for an appropriate publication outlet related to their field of inquiry in online teaching/learning

If you are so inclined, I would encourage you to join in the conversation and offer advice, resources,ideas, and readings for these scholars — as a number of you hold some invaluable expertise in a variety of areas we’ll be exploring for distributed learning this term [To see potential topics, see page 6 of the LTEC 6040 Course Syllabus]:

#LTEC6040 Blogs
https://jennie6040.blog/
https://nitiesite.wordpress.com/
https://jackimberly.wordpress.com/
https://crossingboundariesmedia.wordpress.com
https://osbornemarks.wordpress.com/
https://notlostnotyet.wordpress.com/
https://rickwoods2018.wordpress.com/
https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/

We are just beginning to define what it means to examine online instruction/learning and unpacking distributed educational environments. In the initial conversations and class blog posts, most are still working on how they DEFINE and OUTLINE what it means to learn/teach online from their own experiences and expectations from the theories they are learning about in our program. Distance education research in higher education is fairly “young” (in comparison to other disciplines) and I am grateful I am surrounded by some fantastic colleagues and their respective departments/units/centers/teams who continue to find value in sharing digital teaching/learning scholarship resources. Here are a just a few (of many) examples:

Beyond these databases, reports, and resources, I am curating other digital learning materials and discourse to prompt discussion, debate and inquiry. Please feel free to share articles, blog posts, media, and more that might be suitable for diving into online teaching/learning research. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below, if you have any. If you tweet, share what you think is critical for investigations in the digital age of learning using the course hashtag: #LTEC6040

Online Learning, StudentAffairs

#SAchat Podcast: Online Student Services

Last month I joined Dustin from The Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast, to talk about the impact online learning will have on student support for our learners. Much of what is happening in distance education, which includes online learning, blended learning, hybrid courses, and more, will impact how to student affairs educators work.  As we discussed how online learning will be relevant to student affairs, I shared a few resources to get listeners stated and shared these resources in the show notes (below). Thanks for the invite Dustin, and happy listening:

SAC-Podcast

Link on Stitcher: http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/65465/38022983

Show notes:

This blog post is cross-posted at The Student Affairs Collaborative website. Read more about all things Student Affairs and Higher Education at https://studentaffairscollective.org/

EdTech, Higher Education, Online Learning

Research Wanted: Distance Education & Technology in US Higher Ed #DETAsummit

Last week, I was invited to join a group of educators, researchers, practitioners, leaders, and more before #eli2015 to discuss the state of online and blended learning at the DETA Summit (#DETAsummit), hosted by the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA). With the primary role of the DETA Research Center “to promote student access and success through evidence-based online learning practices and learning technologies,” the morning’s agenda was full and the purpose of the DETA Summit meeting was to:

  • Gather key partners and research experts to generate of ideas
  • Brainstorm crucial issues in conducting research and developing coherency in the field of distance education
  • Discuss ideas relating to competency-based education, accessibility, and distance education support

The DETA Research center has desired outcomes that focus on access, satisfaction and learning/instructional effectiveness – read more about these from the grant HERE:

Desired Outcomes

At the #DETAsummit a wide variety of folks gathered with interest to discuss what research should look like for technology and distance education. Looking around the room, it was like a tweet up of all online learning  levels of support, instruction, development, planning, and research from around the US.  The focus of the meeting was to work on the DETA Yea 1 goal: Develop a research model.

Research Model

In facilitating one of the many round tables discussions, our group swapped ideas about potential research questions that should be asked, common definitions under the distance education umbrella, standard variables to measure, known frameworks for inquiry, and shared models being used for online/blended learning assessment. Although we were only given about 3 hours in total, I think the entire room was buzzing with ideas and wanted to continue talking. The conversations were driven to list our top choices on large post-its and vote on top our top choices after seeing what other groups discussed [See post-it voting from my Flickr album]. For the short amount of time, I think the #DETAsummit  was a very productive, and we managed to gain some broader insight into what a research model could look like. With a mixed participant list, there were insights and questions  from varying perspectives and it was rather REFRESHING.

Based on the small group discussions and voting process, the research questions selected are:

  • What are the definitions of success from student’s perspective? | 33 | Wicked Hop
  • What patterns of behavior lead to increased student learning for different populations? | 26 | Safehouse
  • What are the different design components (content, interactivity, assessments) that impact student learning? | 29 | Rochambo
  • How can we define and measure student success beyond traditional outcomes (learning and competency)? | 25 | Benelux

If you are interested in distance education research (e.g. online learning, blended learning, hybrid pedagogy, etc.) I would suggest digging into the conversation and resources from the #DETAsummit. The DETA group is very open and transparent with their development process, as you can find our discussion notes shared in Collaborative Google Docs, listen/view the G+ Hangout Recording, and check out the Presentation Slides that give an overview of the day.

Congratulations to the DETA Team (who I now call the #DETAdivas) on a successful start to the work you have ahead. I look forward to following along with your progress on the grant, learning how your group utilize these research questions, and, hopefully, contributing to a better way to measure/assess online and blended learning.

DETAdivas

Want to stay connected to the research?

EdTech, Higher Education, Online Learning

Online Education in the US [2014 Report]

As I am on my way to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI & #eli2015), specifically to attend the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) Summit, I figured it was critical to review the 2014 Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States just released from the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG):

“The study’s findings point to a competitive marketplace, in which traditional institutions are gaining ground on the for-profits in online and distance education,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “While the rapid pace of online learning growth has moderated, it still accounts for nearly three-quarters of all US higher education’s enrollment increases last year.”

It is clear that online learning is on the rise in America – yet there is a vast difference between how administration and faculty view it. A majority of post-secondary education leaders (70.8%)  indicated that online learning is “critical to their long-term strategy;” however these leaders may struggle with online adoption as only 28% of their faculty find “value” and view online education as “legitimate.” A number of findings in this report show opposing views for online education. For example, these two factions of higher differ  by their awareness of open education resources (OER).

OER_FutureHE

There is much more of this narrative to tease out; and I would like to go through this report further (on the plane) and learn what others in the field have to say. For now I will leave you with some of the ‘quick facts’ shared, and encourage you to download and read through the FULL REPORT if you are in the online learning sphere:

Key report findings include:

  • The number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2014 is up 3.7 %t from the previous year.
  • The year-to-year 3.7% increase in the number of distance education students is the lowest recorded over the 13 years of this report series.
  • Public and private nonprofit institutions recorded distance enrollment growth, but these were offset by a decrease among for-profit institutions.
  • The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face remained unchanged at 74.1%.
  • The proportion of chief academic leaders reporting online learning is critical to their long-term strategy reached a new high of 70.8%.
  • Only 28.0% of academic leaders say that their faculty accept the “value and legitimacy of online education.”
  • The adoption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) is reaching a plateau, only 8.0% of higher education institutions currently offer one, another 5.6% report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
  • The proportion of academic leaders who believe that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses dropped to 16.3%.

Update:

A couple areas to note, and for further discussion this week at #eli2015 and the #DETAsummit (Follow @UWMDETA):

Pgs. 43-44: Discuss the undercount and overcount of distance education, i.e. for “fully online” enrollments – this seems to be hazy, as it might be as learning design for enrollment varies by student population type and course design delivery.

Pg. 44 – “The definition of ‘distance education’ is causing confusion”

There was an interesting segment in this report that struggled with the term “distance education.” This report takes into account distance education, when looking at “fully online” higher education programs. This part of the report reminded me about the Twitter debate of online learning, online education, distance education, and then some when trying to name an update to an edited book. Check out “The State of ______ Learning” thread on Storify to learn what was discussed. What terminology is best? How can we describe/define education that is delivered from a distance/online/on the web/virtually? Please advise.