The twenty-first session that I am blogging from the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference is:
Research Needs and Trends in K-12 Online Learning
Kathryn Kennedy, International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), United States, International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), United States
K-12 online learning is spreading across the United States and beyond. Within the 27 state virtual schools, enrollments reached 619,847, a 16% increase from last year. Supplemental enrollments, including those in hybrid settings, are often indeterminable due to antiquated or non-existent student data systems. This session shares the latest research in K-12 online learning. In particular, three major topics are identified including the emergence of blended learning models, the datedness of key traditional policy and how the field is updating them, and the transformative roles of educators that help to best meet the needs of these new models, systems, and policy. Author shares the work of researchers who are on the forefront of this ever-expanding reform movement. At the same time, author will share the needs of the K-12 online and blended learning practitioner community.
Kathryn began the session with some information about International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) as an organization. At present, iNACOL has over 4300 members from more than 50 different countries. They provide leadership, advocacy, research, training, and networking with experts in K-12 online learning.
This was followed by a discussion of the state of K-12 online learning in the United States:
- 50 states have online learning policies
- 40 states have statewide initiatives
- 31 states with full-time programs (approximately 275,000 students)
- 82% of school districts have one or more students enrolled
- MI, AL, FL, GA, VA, and WV have online learning graduation requirements
There were a variety of other policy items highlighted – mostly which come from the neo-liberal agenda (e.g., expanding school choice, favourable funding policies, etc.).
Kathryn then moved to the research survey that was conducted of their members. Essentially they surveyed their practitioner members to find our what research these practitioners wanted.
Student Demographic Enrollment
- what is the annual enrollment data nationally and state-by-state?
- what are the student demographics of online and blended learners?
- what is the range of costs and funding levels for online and blended learning?
- what are the effects of diminished funding levels on programs and their ability to support students?
- how do English language learner learn most effectively?
- how do students with disabilities learn most effectively?
- how do at-risk learn most effectively?
- is online learning an viable option for all of these groups of students?
- how is blended learning implemented locally to maximize student learning?
- how is online learning implemented locally to maximize student learning?
- how can data systems provide information for instructional support?
- how can data systems provide information for student support?
- how are students oriented to their online and blended learning programs?
- what is the effect of allowing students to work at their competency level as compared to their age?
- what are the promising practices for preparing professionals?
- what change management practices are effective for implementing K-12 online and blended learning?
- what teaching strategies are most effective in K-12 online and blended learning?
Learning Environment and Course Design
- what are promising practices for online course design?
- what is the effect of allowing students and teachers to create content and OERs?
- what learning tools and spaces are most effective in K-12 online and blended learning?
- how can online course design allow for greater accessible?
- what constitutes good assessment in online learning?
- what are some alternative formats for conducting online assessment?
Learning Breakthrough Models
- what are effective strategies for supervising and evaluating teachers?
- should we consider competency-based models?
- [a bunch of others I didn't get to type]
- what effect does policy have on design, quality assurance, cost, growth, teacher certification in the K-12 online and blended learning?
Data Systems and Technology Infrastructure
- how do we get good learner analytics?
- how can we use analytics to improve student performance?
In terms of research initiatives that iNACOL is currently undertaking. The first is the Online and Blended Learning Online Database (see http://www.k12onlineresearch.org). There is a Research Committee and a Research SIG. There is a Research in Review webinar on the third Tuesday from 3pm to 4pm each month (and it is free). The Research in Review Blog will be starting soon, as will an open access iNACOL Journal (first edition in July 2013, with the goal of publishing four times a year). Finally, the iNACOL Conference each fall (currently known as the Virtual School Symposium).