November Research Round Up

Illustration of the learning process
Each month our team of researchers highlights K-12 online, blended, and innovative learning research, reports, standards, and other noteworthy resources published nationally and internationally in the preceding weeks. Our hope with this series is to inform the educational community of the latest digital learning research in order to better serve students.
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Tools for “Real World Learning”

Digital Promise, a nonprofit educational research organization, launched a suite of resources for educators and administrators on what they call “Real World Learning.” This suite of resources offers help at every level including a roadmap to help guide schools through the process of integrating authentic, life-relevant learning experiences into their academic programs. The suite also includes case studies of schools and districts across the country, examples of Real World Learning, and a list of organizations eager to partner to implement Real World Learning.

What do we mean by flexibility in distance education?

An article in the Journal of Distance Education by George Veletsianos titled, An analysis of flexible learning and flexibility over the last 40 years of Distance Education explores research published in distance education over the past 40 years around the concept of flexible learning.

His work identified six primary themes: “the qualities of flexibility as affording ‘anytime, anyplace’ learning; flexibility as pedagogy; liberatory or service-oriented aspects of flexibility; limitations of flexibility, especially in terms of technology, the constraints of time and space, as well as cultural differences; flexibility as a quality needed by instructors and instructional designers themselves; and critiques of flexibility as a concept.”

Clearly, given the numbers and variation of themes, flexibility is a highly complex concept but one that is commonly referenced in K-12 online and blended learning (primarily the concepts of “anytime, anyplace” learning).

The evolution of distance education?

An article in the Journal of Distance Education by Aras Bozkurt titled, Intellectual roots of distance education: a progressive knowledge domain analysis explores the evolution of distance education as an educational construct through social network analysis. Bozkurt suggests that distance education is an interdisciplinary field that is also part of mainstream education.

Using progressive knowledge domain analysis, Bozkurt identified that distance education originated from social learning theories, and over time, specific distance education related theories began to emerge. Bozkurt also identified a paradigm shift in distance education in the 2000s, attributed to the development and widespread adoption of online networked technologies.

How students collaborate online

An article in E-Learning and Digital Media titled, Learning through collaboration: A networked approach to online pedagogy looked at collaborative learning in an online undergraduate course. The study analyzed the conversation, thinking, and media that students produced during their collaboration.

This work is interesting as much of the research in online learning both at the secondary and post-secondary level explores learning in asynchronous environments. This research looks at synchronous collaboration between students, as well as their joint engagement with technology and how that drives their learning and collaboration.

Research Round Up blog series

In our Research Round Up blog series, we compile recent research on K-12 online learning in Michigan and across the nation. This series is designed to provide resources for researchers and practitioners to stay up to date with with what we know about online teaching and learning. Stay up to date on future blogs in this series by signing up for email notifications!

About the authors

Kristen DeBruler
Dr. Kristen DeBruler received her doctorate in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology from Michigan State University. She taught in the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program at Michigan State University for three years. Her work focuses on K-12 online learning policy in Michigan and nation wide as well as understanding online learning best practices.

Christopher Harrington
Dr. Christopher Harrington has served public education as a teacher, an administrator, a researcher, and a consultant for more than 25 years and has experience assisting dozens of school districts across the nation in the design and implementation of blended, online, and personalized learning programs. He has worked on local, regional, and national committees with iNACOL and various other education-based organizations aimed at transforming education through the use of technology.

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Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute

The Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) is a non-biased organization that exists to expand Michigan’s ability to support new learning models, engage in active research to inform new policies in online and blended learning, and strengthen the state’s infrastructures for sharing best practices. MVLRI works with all online learning environments to develop the best practices for the industry as a whole.

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