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Research in Review

MVLRI’s research provides a foundation to examine, engage and explore educational practices in the industry.

MVLRI is dedicated to taking education techniques to the next level. We believe that with proper research, the ways we learn can continue to evolve to strengthen our futures.

Professional learning (PL) for educators is essential for promoting connections, pedagogical growth, and fulfilling recertification requirements. Investigating educators’ engagement with PL courses is crucial for ensuring its effectiveness. This study showed that most educators were satisfied with their PL courses and found audio/visual course elements particularly engaging and helpful for learning.
This report offers a detailed analysis of online Career and Technical Education programs in Idaho, Missouri, and Arkansas, shedding light on their goals, curriculum, instruction, and alignment with industry standards. It also highlights essential strategies to enhance success in online CTE programs, emphasizing the critical role of these programs in providing flexible learning opportunities and preparing students for the evolving job market, thus contributing to workforce development and education.
This study explores synchronous online learning in five U.S. states (K-12, enrollments 20 to 14,000+). Key considerations include relationships, scheduling, supports, infrastructure, and data. Synchronous learning enhances structured scheduling, supports real-time interactions, streamlines infrastructure, and facilitates data-informed decision-making. Understanding these factors is critical for effective implementation in virtual education.
Through the strategic implementation of personalized professional learning, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (P-CCS) has successfully transformed its approach to educator professional development. Through a blend of in-house curriculum creation, external resources and partnerships, technology utilization, and opportunities for educator choice based on feedback as well as their unique needs and aspirations, they've cultivated a culture of enthusiastic engagement and reflective growth.
This report utilized Michigan Virtual student learning interfaces and survey data to examine the navigation patterns of Michigan K-12 mentors within student learning interfaces and their perceptions of student support practices. Findings suggest that mentors’ student loads vary based on specific factors. Mentors consider relationship building, motivating students, and monitoring student progress as effective practices. Furthermore, mentors reported varying degrees of usage of tools within the student learning interfaces.
Hamilton Community Schools (HCS) in Michigan has developed an innovative work-based learning program to prepare students for future employment and expose them to in-demand career pathways. The program aims to close the skills gap and provide greater access to educational training opportunities. HCS collaborated with businesses and higher education institutions to create a multi-year program focused on experiential and project-based learning. Students have the chance to explore high-wage careers through site visits, job-shadowing, and apprenticeships, gaining the necessary skills for informed decisions about their futures.
This report investigates online course outcomes in high free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) schools vs. others. Students in high FRL schools had lower grades, delayed access, and fewer assignments submitted. Early engagement indicators significantly influenced final grades, highlighting the need for timely interventions to promote equity in online education.
With their Portrait of a Graduate and Strategic Plan as guiding principles, Fraser Public Schools began a deliberate journey towards competency-based education. By prioritizing policies, pedagogy, structures, and culture, Fraser has taken steps towards making their vision for CBE a reality—empowering students to discover their passions and become lifelong learners.
This report examines the impact of student-centered learning (SCL) on K-12 student achievement. Despite the high regard for SCL, there is a lack of research on its effect. A literature review reveals limited studies on student achievement, showing modest gains. Factors like demographics and SCL elements are explored, emphasizing the need for further research, particularly with high-quality experimental designs.
Student-centered learning, personalized learning, and competency-based education—terms widely recognized in the field of K-12 education. While we know they are related, do they mean the same thing? This report explores how each term is defined as well as what they look like in practice to gain a deeper understanding of what we really mean when we say student-centered learning.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2021-22 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students, as well as over 80 data tables.
Instructional designers and administrators at Michigan Virtual sought to better understand student engagement with interactive course elements in their online courses, and whether those elements relate to student learning.
Since legislation passed in the late 2000s requiring online experiences for Michigan K-12 students and establishing online charter schools, enrollment in online courses in Michigan has steadily increased. Depending on their race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, and special education status, students had markedly different outcomes in their online courses. This report is intended to understand K-12 online education from an equity perspective, and more thoroughly, to understand if all Michigan K-12 students are receiving equitable education online.
This study assesses educators' perceptions of the effectiveness of the social-emotional learning (SEL) professional development courses they've completed online. Through a survey of 702 educators who completed at least one SEL professional learning course with Michigan Virtual in 2021, this report provides insights into what works well for educators in learning about SEL through online formats, what educators think about their own SEL competencies after completing online SEL training, and educators' recommendations on how to adapt online SEL professional learning courses to make them more relevant and applicable to their work.
Driven by their commitment to what they call “The Shamrock Way,” Berrien Springs Public Schools (BSPS) offers personalized learning opportunities where students can learn and grow in a caring environment. They are also committed to personalizing professional development for teachers so that they can experience personalized learning for themselves. This case study explores how through a variety of programs, pathways, and virtual learning options as well as a willingness to meet students where they are and a dedicated effort to encourage students to take ownership of their learning and develop agency, BSPS is making learning student-centered.
Demand for online education has been on the rise for years and will only continue to increase, but will there be enough professionals willing to teach online given the broader declines in teacher recruitment and retention? What keeps online teachers from staying in their jobs? What keeps people from becoming online teachers in the first place? And what has been done and can be done to address these concerns? This study examines the recruitment and retention of online teachers with an eye toward effective practices in averting a shortage of online teachers.
Driven by a culture of sustained improvement, support from the community, and a shared vision for student success (their Portrait of a Graduate), Oxford Community Schools is making learning student-centered. This case study details how through their K-12 International Baccalaureate program, well-developed career and technical education program, early college program that empowers students to take ownership of their education, and virtual academy that is customized to meet the needs of individual students, Oxford meets students at their point of need.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2020-21 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students, as well as over 80 data tables.
This case study explores the motivations behind The Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium, and Keweenaw's shift towards making learning more student-centered. They are breaking the mold of traditional grade levels, spurring creativity and cross-curricular connections with makerspaces, personalizing learning with a multitude of programs and pathways, taking a "student first" approach, and meeting the diverse needs of students and their families. As a school district, they have made some intentional decisions, stepped outside of their comfort zone, harnessed their professional learning, and ultimately capitalized upon the constant state of change in education resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, realizing that they can't afford to—and don't want to—return to "normal."
Schools and districts throughout Michigan continue to adopt educational technologies for the purposes of increasing student engagement and performance. This MVLRI research study explores how Michigan schools and districts are leveraging digital resources to meet the academic needs of students and their families both now and beyond pandemic learning. Specifically, the study focused on the instructional strategies schools are moving toward, what digital resources are being used, and the myriad factors that are accelerating or hindering the use of digital resources.
As school leaders across the nation are seeking to provide equitable learning opportunities for the students they serve, many are looking to design and implement competency-based learning models in their schools. While the process of shifting from a traditional education model to one that is competency-based can be challenging, school leaders are motivated by the model’s promise of equity and greater relevance for students and an increase in engagement and performance for all students.

The purpose of this document is to help you create and/or maintain a quality online learning program that fits the needs of your students, no matter where you are on this journey. Much of what is covered in this toolkit reflects best practices found in the National Online Standards (NSQ), which were developed by experts from across the country.

We have designed this toolkit with the intention of being brief, and to provide questions and actionable steps to help you support your students in online learning.

The strategies for supporting virtual teachers discussed in this report are based on the current practices shared by 1,809 virtual educators (1,721 teachers and 88 supervising administrators) representing 17 statewide virtual schools or programs with a combined 150 years of online and blended learning experience and more than a quarter of a million virtual course enrollments annually. The expertise of these individuals is provided as a way to help school leaders of both traditional and nontraditional schools and districts that have teachers and school leaders who are developing their skills and abilities as virtual educators.
This study assesses the SEL resources and supports that have been used to help Michigan teachers and administrators. Through an online survey of teachers and educators across Michigan, we examined what district and schoolwide resources have been leveraged, and what strategies teachers and administrators have used to help themselves, which ultimately benefits students, families, and communities. Additionally, attention was paid to the perceived effectiveness of these resources and strategies and challenges associated with their implementation. By understanding Michigan K-12 educators’ well-being and their SEL needs, we hope that teachers and administrators can find ways to meet their SEL needs and maintain a positive well-being, which will ultimately make their jobs more satisfying and fulfilling.
While the more traditional teacher-centered model of education does work for some students, it does not work for all. By connecting with district administrators, school administrators, and teachers through both a survey and interviews, this study aimed to capture the ways in which some Michigan K-12 schools are implementing student-centered learning practices along with the factors that impact the successful implementation of such practices. It is our hope that the effective practices, guidance, and advice gleaned from the many innovative educators who so generously gave their time to participate in this study will help other school and district personnel overcome their own barriers to successful implementation of a more student-centered approach to learning.
The student engagement and relationship-building strategies discussed in this report are based on the current practices provided by the 1,721 virtual teachers participating in this study. These individuals currently work within the school structures of 17 statewide virtual schools or programs, in which providing virtual education to students is their primary focus. The expertise of these individuals is provided as a way to aid teachers and administrators of both traditional and nontraditional schools and districts that have teachers and school leaders who are developing their skills and abilities as virtual educators.
Student access to any time and any place learning options has expanded under a new law in Michigan. Section 21f of Public Act 60 of 2013 allows students in grades 5 through 12 to take up to two courses online per academic term (with parental consent). Michigan is the seventh state in the U.S. to enable statewide choice at the course level through online learning options.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2019-20 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students, as well as over 50 data tables at the end of the report.
For each online course a providing district makes available either through its own district catalog of online courses or the statewide catalog of online courses, the results from a review using the International Association for K-12 Online Learning’s (iNACOL) National Standards for Quality Online Course Standards, Version 23 must be included in the online course syllabus.
With the COVID-19 related school closures in spring 2020 and the need to modify learning models for the start of the 2020-21 school year, Michigan schools were pushed to adopt remote instruction and student support. This research study seeks to understand the learning continuity plans formulated by districts, as well as teacher, parent, and student perceptions of how these plans were executed.
As an increasing number of schools and districts throughout the state of Michigan are including an online learning format in their academic programs, there is a related and growing need to ensure students are receiving the highest quality education in this format. Having a set of nationally-recognized “standards of quality” for schools and districts will help school leaders plan for the development of high-quality online courses, instructional practices, and school- or district-wide programs.
While there is widespread agreement about the value of online courses, quality remains a significant concern. Educational stakeholders largely agree that there should be clear expectations and accountability for online programs and course providers however practice of this remains fragmented and inconsistent.
Motivation profiles in Michigan Virtual courses for the most part matched established motivation profiles found in face-to-face courses and as is often the case with face-to-face courses, highly motivated students tend to be more successful and less motivated students are more likely to struggle.
The role of an on-site mentor changes and evolves throughout the semester but it remains critical to students, particularly in terms of relationship building and motivating online learners. On-site mentors can have a profoundly positive impact on students, however the quality and level of support provided is inconsistent across the state.
Despite growing enrollments at the K-12 level, by and large teacher preparation programs are not preparing teachers to practice online. Few programs offer content on online teaching and it remains highly variable for those that do.
Research on online learning in higher education still has the potential to inform online learning at the K-12 level, despite several key differences. This is important as the field of K-12 research while growing still remains smaller overall than online learning in higher education.
K-12 teachers have overall positive perceptions of blended learning, often times more positive than students who report struggling with aspects of self-regulation. Research in this area, and particularly among students with disabilities in blended learning contexts is lacking.
Despite growth in online and blended learning there remains limited opportunities for formal teacher professional development in these areas. While there are resources they are largely patchwork and teachers often seek out informal resources.
Online learning enrollments in Michigan have grown significantly in the last decade, with a majority of enrollments at the high-school level and matching national online enrollment demographics. Pass rates from online courses have fallen as enrollments have grown, and students tend to be most successful when they take only a couple virtual courses.
Research suggests that online learners with disabilities, those at risk of dropping out, and those taking courses for credit recovery benefit from additional assistance and instructional support. These learners can benefit from online courses however those courses and the accompanying instruction need to be responsive to the unique needs of these learners.
While context remains unique and unquestionably important for online learning, research suggests best practices such as consistent learner progression, teacher-learner communication, and the value of project-based learning may positively impact student learning outcomes. Similarly research also suggests elements such as registration timing and time spent in the online course do not contribute significantly to learner success.
Across the country, social and emotional learning has been rising in importance as schools continually seek to assist students with navigating both their home and academic lives. In Michigan, the emphasis of educating the "whole child" has risen to be among the highest of priorities. As part of Michigan's Top 10 in 10 Years initiative, school districts are moving beyond focusing solely on students' academic needs, and they are addressing students' cognitive, physical, behavioral, social, and emotional needs as well.
Exploring ways in which online learning can meet the unique needs of all students in Michigan schools, a team of Michigan Virtual staff investigated how online learning programs are structured to accommodate flexible start and end dates for students taking online courses. Interviews with several virtual programs in Michigan and a look at virtual schools in other states provided a sense of how some schools enabled flexible enrollment options.
This report arose from discussions by Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) researchers with mentors of virtual learners across the state of Michigan who routinely expressed uncertainty and, quite frankly, a bit of anxiety, around how to report their virtual learners on Count Day. In a system that relies on funding based on the number of students in attendance on Count Day and the fact that not all virtual learners attend school regularly, one can understand their concerns. What follows is a summary of what practitioners shared about their Count Day reporting experiences, an outline of Count Day requirements, of which virtual learners are a small portion, and a potential path toward creating a resource that gives practitioners steps to prepare for reporting virtual learners.
As more and more schools are adopting the use of digital content to support their online and blended programs, schools and districts are raising the selection and implementation of an appropriate learning management system/platform (LMS) as a top priority. During the 2019-20 school year, Michigan Virtual evaluated, selected, and implemented a new learning management system through which the majority of its online student courses are delivered. The Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (MVLRI) documented this process and is sharing the experience with schools and districts within and beyond Michigan that are considering the adoption of a new LMS.
Student-centered learning is a philosophy or an approach to education that is designed to meet the needs of each student individually. In the following report, MVLRI researchers provide a rationale for student-centered learning and provide multiple examples of student-centered learning models being implemented in schools throughout the country. Three different Michigan school leaders discuss their districts’ innovative approaches towards student-centered learning, offering advice for anyone who is considering moving towards a more student-centered learning model.
During the 2019-20 school year, Michigan schools faced extended closures due to inclement weather. Increasingly, school leaders are recognizing the need to prepare their districts for remote learning in the event of extended closures due to natural disasters, public health emergencies, or any other extraordinary circumstances that might arise. The following planning considerations offer school leaders actionable advice on how they can leverage digital instructional content and remote teaching practices to provide learning opportunities for all students in the event of unanticipated and extended school closures.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2018-19 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students, as well as over 50 data tables at the end of the report.
Automatic grading is commonly used as a pedagogical tool, and has become even more prevalent due to the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses. However, its effects on students’ learning outcomes in online high-school courses are not yet clear. This study therefore examined 738 enrollment records in high-school English Language Arts courses using hierarchical linear modeling, and found no effect of the quantity or proportion of auto-graded work on final grades. In addition, the results of decision-tree analyses suggested that, in the case of instructor-graded work, the ratio of points attempted to points earned emerged as a useful means of dividing student pass rates into three clusters.
This study examined student-teacher communication practice in online courses from the student perspective. The present study provides the field with empirical evidence on the importance of student-teacher interactions through examining more varied outcome variables and relevant factors than what was often included in existing studies, and also exploring multiple sources of data.
This report offers an overview of methods investigating educators’ professional discourse. The selected three methods are text-mining focused on content words, text-mining with function words, and social network analysis. Detailed illustration of procedures of and results from individual methods will help readers strengthen their resources of research methods with these current cutting-edge approaches as they relate to doing social research in general or action research for program improvement.
From February 12 to 17, 2019, Public Sector Consultants Inc. (PSC) conducted surveys with 600 Michigan adults and 400 Michigan college students on behalf of Michigan Virtual. These surveys were part of ongoing public opinion research conducted by Michigan Virtual to better understand the opinions, preferences, and beliefs of Michigan residents about online learning opportunities for high school students in the state. The adult survey is a follow-up to similar polls conducted by PSC in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, and was designed to include common questions for comparison. The college student survey, new in 2017, includes questions about their specific experiences with online learning in high school and college. Taken together, these surveys allow for continued monitoring of opinion trends about online learning while providing important context about the experiences of current college students.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2017-18 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students as well as through over 50 data tables at the end of the report.
Appropriately supporting students in online and blended learning environments requires a great deal of instructional planning and preparation. The intent of this document is to supply educational teams content that will provide support for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs and services for students with disabilities enrolled in online and blended learning environments.
This report details Michigan Virtual’s efforts to adopt the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching evaluation rubric for online teachers. Michigan Virtual Student Learning Services administration modified Danielson’s evaluation rubric to suit the online teaching context, and developed an observation resource for use with the rubric. Phase 1 implementation of the evaluations was successful overall; it succeeded in both bringing Michigan Virtual in compliance with Public Act 173 by adopting an evaluation system and providing valuable professional development and growth opportunities for teachers.
The current study details three online PLCs: the Early Literacy District Coaches Online Community, the Statewide Online Mentor Network, and the STEM Teacher Network. The study also attempts to unpack participants’ engagement, in particular their discourse in those social constructive spaces. Using text-mining technique as the primary analytic approach, the findings highlight the strong potential of online PLCs and, in particular, discussion forums as hubs for meeting isolated educators’ professional needs. Practical considerations for improved design and implementation and future research needs are also discussed.
During the 2017-18 school year, Michigan Virtual implemented various new initiatives, including collaborative partnerships with Michigan districts, credit recovery courses, and middle school elective course bundles. Throughout the implementation of these three new initiatives, emphasis was placed on understanding the design and impact of the new models. What follows is a report on the three initiatives.
In this report, we share and discuss student perceptions related to online teachers and on-site mentors’ instructional responsibilities that required knowledge of the online program and course content: (1) advising students regarding course enrollments, (2) orienting students to online learning procedures and expectations, and (3) instructing students regarding the course content.
In this report, we focus on findings related to on-site mentors’ and online teachers’ facilitation efforts that required interpersonal and management skills: (1) facilitating interactions, (2) developing caring relationships, (3) motivating students to more fully engage in learning activities, and (4) organizing and managing student learning.
This research completes a two-year research process to create and empirically validate an instrument to measure K-12 Blended Teaching Readiness. This report details the process as well as the successful efforts to validate and make available an instrument for use by individuals, schools, districts, and universities. Additionally, the report documents the process of creating a second, shorter instrument focusing on four of the most essential pedagogical competencies for blended teaching.
This report details how online K-12 teaching is represented in college level teacher preparation programs in Michigan through a case study methodology grounded in the TPACK framework. Teacher preparation program websites and syllabi were the primary data sources; overall online teaching specifically was not prevalent among required course topics.
This report provides a brief literature review on the use of mobile devices for formal learning, as well as an overview of the design and development of Michigan Virtual’s own mobile application. The report concludes with an overview of planned research efforts as the application is implemented in K-12 school pilot settings.
This project explores student behavioral, textual, and limited demographic data retrieved from Michigan Virtual School for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years. The primary method of analysis was deep learning (DL) however a variety of other data mining techniques were explored, including text analysis, to improve prediction accuracy. DL was also compared to machine learning (ML), and results indicate that DL was slightly better than other ML models; also the inclusion of textual content improved the overall predictive accuracy in identifying at-risk students. Factors affecting the predictive power of the analyses are discussed as well as recommendations and considerations for using this and similar predictive models in practice to identify at-risk students.
Extended professional development (PD) is the gold standard for educators; however, given school budgetary and time constraints, it is also the most difficult form of PD. Together with the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Virtual sought an on-going PD solution that would engage teachers throughout a given time frame but also be low-cost and asynchronous so teachers could fully participate when it was most convenient for them. The solution was an online book study. The following report details the characteristics of the three online book studies, as well as the evolution from early pilot phases to full district roll-outs. It also details the successes and challenges from both Michigan Virtual and the district partner’s perspective.
This study analyzes national and state enrollment data to examine racial and economic diversity in virtual charter schools (VCS). This report examines 2015-16 national enrollment data to understand the differences in total virtual charter school enrollments and school demographics in each state. Instead of comparing enrollments to national averages, this report compares enrollments to the states with virtual charter schools only and also compares enrollments within each state to statewide populations of traditional public and charter school students.
Present research has devoted attention to a long-standing problem: how to better serve students who take K-12 online mathematics courses by investigating learner subgroups based on their semester-long learning trajectories. Mixture growth modeling was used to examine month-by-month scores students earned by completing assignments. The best-fitting model suggested four distinct subgroups representing (1) nearly linear growth, (2) exponential growth, (3) hardly any growth, (4) and early rapid growth. Follow-up analyses demonstrated that two different types of successful trajectories were more likely associated with advanced level courses, such as AP or Calculus courses, and foundation courses, such as Algebra and Geometry, were with the unpromising trajectory. Given those results, implications for practitioners and researchers were discussed from the perspective of self-regulated online learning and evidence-based mathematics instructional practices.
A recent nationwide study revealed that very few teacher education programs are preparing K-12 online teachers for success in the online learning environment (Archambault et al., 2016), which leaves virtual schools with the need to provide their own preparation and support for new online instructors. To paint a picture of K-12 online teacher preparation and support, this case study examined ways in which eight virtual K-12 teachers were prepared and supported for their roles. Findings revealed commonalities in the expectations for and challenges facing K-12 online teachers and the types of professional learning opportunities and support available to K-12 online teachers. This report offers recommendations to help virtual schools and K-12 districts strengthen professional learning and support for K-12 online teachers.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by public schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2016-17 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Detailed findings are presented in sections on schools, courses, and students as well as through over 50 data tables at the end of the report.
An adequate, sustainable force of educators with strong preparation for working with students with disabilities has been difficult to secure in traditional settings; that shortage exists in online settings as well. While there are nascent understandings about instructor work with students with disabilities in K-12 online settings, understanding about course design for diverse learners, including those with disabilities, is lacking.
The number of K-12 students taking online courses has increased tremendously over the past few years. However, while most current research in online learning focuses either on comparing its overall effectiveness with traditional learning or examining perceptions or interactions using self-reported data, scant research has looked into online design elements and students’ learning outcome in K-12 settings. This report seeks to explore how the combination of three main online education components—student, instructor, and course design—contribute to students’ online learning success in high school English language and literature courses.
One of the best ways for practitioners and scholars to understand what is already known in a field is to undertake a review of the existing literature. The existing literature related to K-12 distance, online and blended learning is still developing. This report seeks to describe a series of studies that have been conducted with adult populations that may be of particular interest to researchers and practitioners in the K-12 distance, online, and blended environments.
From September 20 to 27, 2017, Public Sector Consultants Inc. (PSC), on behalf of Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, conducted surveys with 800 Michigan adults and 400 college students (88% from Michigan). These surveys were part of ongoing public opinion research conducted by Michigan Virtual to better understand the opinions, preferences, and beliefs of Michigan residents about online learning opportunities for high school students in the state.
The adoption of blended learning in K-12 schools is on the rise.  With this growth in demand for blended learning, there is a greater need to prepare teachers who can facilitate successful learning in these environments. In order for educator preparation programs, districts, and schools to conduct effective professional development for future blended teachers, the unique competencies of blended teaching need to be identified. This study reports on Phase 1 of a project intended to create a scientifically validated, openly-available blended teaching readiness instrument that can be freely used by districts, schools, and individual teachers to assess core knowledge and skills needed for successful blended teaching.
Although policies aimed at increasing graduation rates in the United States can be divisive and politically charged, it is almost universally agreed upon that parental engagement will be a critical element in the solution. Unfortunately, the failure rates in online courses are higher than those found in traditional courses. While any solution will be complex, it is likely that parents will play a critical role, just as they have in face-to-face contexts.
This study, the fourth in a series examining the shifts in the roles and responsibilities of K-12 educators as a result of evolving instructional models, focuses on data specialists who help to analyze data and provide just-in-time information to fellow educators to help improve learning outcomes in their school or district. The aim of this study is to better understand the ways in which data specialists, or analysts, inform instructional and other educational practices, as well as to understand their mindsets when working with others to help them incorporate data into their practice. The study also touches on the potential benefits that data specialists anticipate by incorporating data analysis into learning environments.
Serving as a capacity-builder throughout the state, Michigan Virtual engaged in a multi-year partnership with four school districts with the intent to accelerate blended and personalized learning in each unique district. This report examines the readiness and challenges of each school district as teachers, district leaders, and the Michigan Virtual team worked to systematically implement effective blended learning strategies. The goal of this study was to understand multiple stakeholders’ readiness points and challenges when they began to implement blended learning and to share the findings in a way that could help move the field forward.
MVLRI® has led various types of quantitative research over recent years. Those studies capitalized on data from the learning management system (LMS) and employed diverse analytic approaches in order to enhance our understanding of topics ranging from class size to students’ engagement patterns in courses. Those resources provide stakeholders opportunities to use the information and knowledge shared in these reports to extract, analyze, and interpret data to better track students’ learning activities, understand learners’ behavior in online courses, and identify their needs. In line with this idea, MVLRI launched a new project that focused on growth modeling. This report describes practical preliminary steps prior to fitting the LMS data into the growth model.
MVLRI® has launched a series of quantitative research reports exploring characteristics of students in state virtual school courses, specifically focused on those who took courses for credit recovery (CR). Among the two types of behavioral indicators, namely attempted scores and the number of minutes spent in the learning management system (LMS) on a weekly basis, the current report presented results from exploring the latter, the variable of academic time. The method of time series clustering partitioned data of weekly totals of minutes in the LMS into groups based on differences or similarities among data points, and in turn generated learning profiles. Interpretations of clustering results enhance our understanding of students’ academic learning time in virtual courses and any association between the time investment pattern and learning outcomes.
MVLRI® has launched a series of quantitative research reports exploring characteristics of students in state virtual school courses, specifically focused on those who took courses for credit recovery (CR). The final report of this series was to extend the work exploring learning profiles to other subject areas most frequently taken by credit recovery (CR) students: Algebra 1, English Language & Literature 9, and U.S. History & Geography 1. We discussed clustering results as a way of providing data-driven benchmarks for the optimal course behavior patterns, which may be used by instructors and course mentors for guidance in monitoring students’ progress.
The second report in the Credit Recovery series—Examining Credit Recovery Learning Profile from Time-Series Clustering Analysis—examines student learning behaviors in the first part of Algebra 2 courses. The ways that students engaged in coursework is targeted with two types of behavioral indicators, namely students’ attempted scores and the number of minutes spent in the learning management system (LMS) on a weekly basis.
This study, the third in a series examining the shifts in the roles and responsibilities of K-12 educators as a result of evolving instructional models, focuses on instructional technologists. The aim of this study is to better understand the ways in which instructional technologists conceptualize their work, the approaches they employ when supporting teachers through the process of technology integration, and the ways they think about the evolution of their field of work.
In this new report, entitled Virtual Schools in the U.S.: Case Studies of Policy, Performance, and Research Evidence, the authors describe the enrollment, student characteristics, and performance of virtual and blended schools in each state, discuss the research related to virtual and blended school characteristics and outcomes, and examine recent legislative activities pertaining to virtual and blended schools. This new research effort adds to our current understanding of virtual schools by highlighting areas that are consistent with findings identified in the national report as well as noting instances where national trends may inaccurately describe state-level activity.
The iED Effectiveness report, part three in a series, analyzes the effectiveness of the iEds in their first year and part of their second year of teaching online for the Michigan Virtual School. Of the 13 iEds, only two had previous experience teaching online (for one and two years, respectively). Two of the iEds reported some experience teaching in blended settings, and nine reported no previous experience teaching online. Further, the nine iEds with no previous online teaching experience almost unanimously stated that they never considered online teaching as a possible career option prior to hearing about MVS and the iEd program. This group of teachers were novice online teachers going into their first year of the iEd experience.
The Blended Learning & Teaching report, the fourth in the four-part series, begins at the launch of the iEds’ second year of training and focuses on their immersion in blended teaching and learning.
This report, Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in K-12 Online Learning: An Introduction to the Analysis of the iNACOL Program, Course, and Teacher Standards, is part of a series of four reports and includes the introductory information and methodology for the review process. The other three reports in the series are the reviews of the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses, and iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Programs as well as implications, conclusion, and suggestions for further research for each specific set of standards.
In 2016, the Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) at Teachers College, Columbia University, received a fellowship from MVLRI to investigate learning pathways in Algebra 1A courses offered by Michigan Virtual School, with a focus on how students paced themselves throughout the semester, their online activity in different components of the course, and the difficulties encountered along the way.
This study, the second in a series examining the shifts in the roles and responsibilities of K-12 educators as a result of evolving instructional models, focuses on teachers implementing elements of blended learning in their classrooms. The aim of this study is to understand better the ways in which teachers practicing blended learning think about their work with students and colleagues, the mindsets they adopt when implementing change within their settings, and the benefits they anticipate by applying blended practices in their classrooms.
This report begins discussion on the topic of credit recovery by testifying to the concept that students who have different reasons for taking online courses perform differently. Specifically, the underperformance of credit recovery students was hypothesized; the contextual information was also explored, including enrollment patterns, demographic factors, and the learning environment which focused on instructors who taught the courses.
As discussed in iEducator 21st Century Digital Learning Corps: Program Design and Reflection (part one of the series), iEds were asked to contribute regularly to publicly available blogs (the focus of part two of this series). The purpose of the blogs was threefold, seeking to encourage reflection, interaction, and growth. Blogs were selected as the unit of analysis as they presented an archive of data to be analyzed and, through the comments sections, afforded communication and connection between iEds and administrators.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by schools to MDE or CEPI, this report highlights 2015-16 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils.
One of the threads in research for technology integration literature is the need to create more authentic and engaging learning experiences in schools (Boyle, 2016). One way to do this is through the use of games. Research has been conducted on the best practices and use of games in the K-12 face-to-face classroom.
In this research, we interviewed 12 online teachers and 12 on-site mentors who had high student pass rates in an attempt to identify the strategies that mentors used to improve student success in online courses. Online teachers believed that it was critical that mentors fulfilled their responsibilities and that mentors had the potential to be the deciding factor in whether students passed or failed their courses. However, in practice teachers reported that many mentors fell short and that the mentoring in their courses was just “pretty good” overall. As K-12 online enrollments increase, it is imperative that researchers, course providers, school administrators, online teachers, and on-site mentors work to improve the mentoring support that is provided to students. Although these efforts can be difficult, it is critical to the success of all online students.
Little has evolved when it comes to how field experiences, or the practical, hands-on component of learning to teach, are structured. A study conducted in 2010, looking at how teacher education programs offered field experiences in K-12 online learning environments, found that only seven programs nationally, or 1.3% of responding programs, offered such an experience. In comparison, this report found a small expansion that includes 15 programs across nine states, representing 4.1% of responding teacher education programs. Despite being limited, there appears to be slow, targeted growth. Although signs of progress are noted, significant work remains to move the field forward with respect to K-12 online teacher preparation.
The MVLRI 2015-16 Annual Report addresses 20 tasks to strengthen teaching and learning for K-12 education.
Access for All is designed to provide an overview of different disability groups in order to better understand the needs of each group, some common accommodations for students in each group, and considerations for each group related to online and blended learning environments. Also provided are the terminology and acronyms commonly associated with disabilities and special education, a synopsis of disability law, and a thorough description of individualized education plans and 504 plans. In better understanding the needs of students with disabilities, it is hoped that virtual school educators will be better prepared to help all their students reach optimum success.
This report shares the experiences of blended learning teachers in Michigan and is a result of interviews conducted to understand the experiences and professional learning choices. According to the teachers, blended learning helped build connections and collaborations with other educators, increased student agency and changed their practice in terms of instructional design and the role of the teacher. This collection of teacher profiles provides a unique perspective of how many of the early teacher innovators considered how to integrate blended learning into their personal learning contexts.
Report #4: Teaching This report includes a summary of the need for this research and a summary of the methodology but focuses primarily on the findings specific to the iNACOL Teaching Standards.
Report #3: Courses The purpose of this report is to describe the findings of an expert panel aiming to offer improvement suggestions for the online course standards.
Report #2: Programs The purpose of this report is to share findings from an expert panel about improving the program standards’ applicability to online learning.
This report is submitted in compliance with Section 98 (6) of Public Act 249 of 2016, which requires the Michigan Virtual University (MVU) to provide, not later than December 1 of each fiscal year, a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State School Aid, the State Budget Director, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the Department of Education that includes specific information related to the Michigan Virtual School (MVS) for the preceding fiscal year.
Report #1: Overview This report is part of a series of four reports and includes the introductory information and methodology for the review process. The other three reports in the series are the reviews of the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses, and iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Programs as well as implications, conclusion, and suggestions for further research for each specific set of standards.
This study, the first in a series examining the shifts in the roles and responsibilities of K-12 educators as a result of evolving instructional models, focuses on the relatively novel role of the blended learning coach. The researchers sought to understand more fully the driving motivations, philosophies, and general thought processes at play when blended learning coaches work with K-12 educators in Michigan to help bring about changes in K-12 instruction through the promotion of blending online and face-to-face instruction.
Researchers at MVLRI and the Virtual School Leadership Alliance investigated the enrollment and pass rates of students in all locales to see how well students performed.
This report introduces and details the iEducator program and includes reflections from the administrative and instructional design teams involved in the development of the program, as well as reflections and feedback from the iEducators themselves.
This report is the second in a series focused on research being conducted with the Highlander Institute on their Fuse RI project, a statewide blended learning implementation initiative in Rhode Island, RI.
This report presents case studies of three exemplar programs that represent major types of K-12 online and blended learning programs (supplemental, alternative, and charter). Each of these freestanding case studies explores the ways in which a successful program seeks to ensure quality and positive student outcomes, with a focus on the five iNACOL quality metrics cited above.
The Transforming Rural K-12 Education Through Blended Learning study provides a perspective of rural students who have engaged in a variety of forms of blended learning. Their perception is valuable to teachers and administrators who might currently be teaching a blended learning course or considering the option of teaching such a course.
From August 20–August 24, 2015, Public Sector Consultants, Inc. (PSC) conducted a telephone poll with 800 adult residents of Michigan to obtain their opinions about online learning opportunities for public school students in Michigan. This survey is a follow-up to a similar poll conducted by PSC in 2014. It was designed to include common questions for comparison purposes, as well as new questions to build on the 2014 survey results. This summary provides highlights of the 2015 survey, along with comparisons to 2014 when appropriate.
This report is submitted in compliance with Section 98 (6) of Public Act 85 of 2015, which requires the Michigan Virtual University (MVU) to provide, not later than December 1 of each fiscal year, a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State School Aid, the State Budget Director, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the Department of Education that includes specific information related to the Michigan Virtual School (MVS) for the preceding fiscal year.
A mentor can make all the difference whether you’re a new employee on a job or a young person looking for guidance from a caring adult. In online learning, a good mentor can be the difference between passing and failing. A case study of mentor programs conducted by MVLRI describes what mentoring looks like in a particular school, develops a set of profiles that illustrate the range of mentoring programs across the state and provides points of comparison for mentors, instructors, administrators, parents and students about alternative support structures and strategies for online learners.
K-12 online learning continues to grow in primary and secondary schools, while educational policy strives to keep up with the ever-changing environment. Specifically in the state of Michigan, a recent statewide analysis of online learning showed that over 76,000 students took at least one virtual course in the 2013-14 school year, accounting for over 319,000 virtual enrollments.
MVLRI is studying and documenting Fuse RI, an open access state model for supporting and expanding K-12 blended learning in Rhode Island. Developed by the Highlander Institute in Providence, RI, Fuse RI is a national model for delivering tailored support to local school districts as they deepen their knowledge and implementation of blended learning at their own pace.
The Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute conducted a study of the similarities and differences across Virtual School Leadership Alliance member programs with a focus on teacher recruitment, hiring, training, support, evaluation and retention.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by school entities to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) or the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), this report highlights 2014-15 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by school entities to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) or the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), this report highlights 2013-14 enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils.
A strong majority of Michigan adults—79%—feel that it is important for middle and high school students to have the option of enrolling in an online course at their local school district, according to a recent survey of Michigan adults. However, only 27% know Michigan has had a high school online learning requirement since 2006. The survey—the first of its kind in Michigan—was led by Michigan Virtual and conducted by Public Sector Consultants to gauge support for K-12 online learning and to determine adult awareness of current education policies.
From September 19 to September 21, 2014, Public Sector Consultants conducted a telephone poll with 800 adult residents of Michigan to get their opinions about online learning opportunities for public school students in Michigan. The poll included 480 landline and 320 cell phone respondents, and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5% at a 95% confidence level. To control for potential bias, the sample was monitored to ensure an adequate numbers of respondents in certain subgroups (particularly for respondents age 18-35). Post-stratification weights were applied for gender, race, age, income, and educational attainment using American Community Survey estimates of Michigan’s population.
This report is submitted in compliance with Section 98 (6) of Public Act 196 of 2014, which requires the Michigan Virtual to provide, not later than December 1 of each fiscal year, a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State School Aid, the State Budget Director, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the Department of Education that includes specific information related to the Michigan Virtual School for the preceding fiscal year.
A recently released Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute report examines existing policies and practices related to the evaluation and approval of online and blended learning in the 50 states as well as relevant international examples, such as those arising from Canada’s province-based K-12 education systems.
Following the conclusion of a massive open online course (MOOC) in the Fall of 2013 by Michigan Virtual and researchers from Kent State University, evidence presented in a final report suggests that MOOCs can lead to positive outcomes, particularly as they relate to getting teachers to think more deeply about teaching and learning in the 21st century.
Based on pupil completion and performance data reported by school entities to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) or the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), this report highlights enrollment totals, completion rates, and the overall impact of virtual courses on K-12 pupils. Through this report, the authors sought to 1) expose and explore the variability that exists in the use of and performance in virtual courses and 2) develop a more nuanced understanding of K-12 virtual learning in the state of Michigan.
The Annual Report for the 2012-13 school year provides a summary of the accomplishments of the Institute’ first year of operation.
This document is intended to make consumers aware of the status of online learning in Michigan and is specifically designed to inform parents, school personnel, and school board members of the nature of online learning options, their effectiveness for Michigan students, the costs of these programs, and current trends.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been on the forefront of current conversations about teaching and learning in the 21st century. The ability for participants at all levels to take free courses in hundreds of topics ranging from guitar to nuclear physics has created as many opportunities as it has challenges and questions. For the most part, the topics and the conversations have focused on professional development and post-secondary education; MOOCs may end up changing how we teach and learn at the graduate and undergraduate levels. However, MOOCs are also now being implemented in K–12 environments. There are several ways in which MOOCs in their current formats can be used by K–12 students and teachers. There are also several benefits from K–12 educators considering the definitions of MOOCs and the concepts they present. This paper presents a conversation about the potential value of MOOCs in K–12 teaching and learning.
In May 2013, the Michigan Association for Secondary School Principals (MASSP) in partnership with Michigan Virtual created a survey to assess the current state and anticipated needs of online learning in Michigan’s secondary schools. The survey results indicate a range of involvement with online courses—from one enrollment to 1500—and the same vast difference in people’s opinions of online learning—from not wanting to offer any courses to welcoming the opportunity to prepare students for online requirements in college and at work.
Astonishing Impact: An Introduction to Five Computer-Based Assessment Issues is a primer on computer-based assessment research and the effect of rapidly developing technology on high- and low-stakes assessment development. The authors identify and discuss five issues showing potential for significant impact on computer-based assessments that can be delivered via the Internet.
This report describes what we currently know about high school dropout and retention, what solutions have been proposed, and how online learning might impact the retention rate. Drawing on existing work from Michigan Virtual School, data are provided to discuss performance of credit recovery students and conditions under which such students succeed and struggle in online learning environments.

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