September Research Round Up

Illustration of the learning process
Each month our team of researchers will be highlighting 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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Kid-Friendly Technology for Special Education Students

Early September, Digital Learning Collaborative released a blog post from the EducationSuperHighway summer blog series featuring a conversation with Monique Marcantonio, a special education teacher at Ben Bronz Academy in Connecticut. Their conversation covered the use of technology by her students, how technology supports both student learning and teaching in their special education classroom.

Throughout, Monique expresses a desire for more simplified and kid-friendly technology that is more accessible and easier to use by her students; this is an interesting juxtaposition with her agreement that her students are digital natives and know a considerable amount about technology.

While students may be proficient in some technology, particularly for socialization and entertainment, they are much less proficient in using technology to support and further their learning.

Communication Preferences for Online Students

Two journal articles were also released in September. The first by Jesus Trespalacios and Lida J. Uribe-Florez in E-Learning and Digital Media explores case studies in students’ communication preferences during online discussion. Results from the study suggested that students considered case-based discussion as the most relevant learning activity and that students in this study preferred text discussions over audio.

Student Interaction in the Flipped Classroom

The second by Hajera Bibi Abdul Kader in Learning: Research and Practice investigates teachers perceptions of flipped classrooms and student interaction. According to the author, due to large class sizes in Singapore, teacher-student interaction is limited. This research explored the use of a flipped classroom model and teachers’ perceptions of the model to increase teachers’ ability to engage one-on-one with students.

Crowdsourcing What We Know About Student-Centered Learning

Finally, the Christensen Institute released a report on their Canopy project, “an effort to build better collective knowledge about the diverse range of schools offering learning experiences designed with students at the center.” The initiative took a crowdsourced approach to collecting information identifying schools working towards student-centered learning.

Many of these schools, according to the report, have not previously been identified and can serve to widen the scope of what research considers around student-centered learning and start to break down differentiation and barriers around student-centered learning. The report not only offers insight into a new knowledge generation model but offers an interesting insight into who is being well served by innovative schools, and who is not.

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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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.