Virtual School Meanderings

November 26, 2015

Rural Research Update, November 2015

Note there is a K-12 online learning item in the “Resources” list below…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Alliance Goal:
To increase awareness of rural-specific issues related to postsecondary access and success in the Midwest and to help improve stakeholder capacity to most effectively target resources
for rural populations.
Message From the Alliance Lead

Victoria CirksI was born in a small town that at the time had fewer than 1,400 residents. My father was raised in a town of around 950; my mother grew up in a community of around 8,500. What do these communities have in common? Each one is considered a rural community.

The fascinating diversity of our nation’s rural communities presents educators, policymakers, and community members with a number of assets and challenges as they work to provide the best educational opportunities to students. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest Rural Research Alliance works to help address these challenges.

The members of the Rural Research Alliance are invested in improving postsecondary outcomes for rural students, recruiting and supporting highly effective teachers and administrators in our rural communities, and implementing innovative and technology-enabled instructional strategies to assist both students and educators. I look forward to working with our alliance members to explore these issues further in 2016.—Victoria Cirks

Lessons Learned From Examining College Enrollment Patterns in Rural Indiana

A gap exists in college enrollment between rural and nonrural high school graduates in the United States. This issue is especially relevant in Indiana, where 31 percent of high school students attend rural schools. Increasing rural students’ postsecondary educational attainment requires a better understanding of the factors that influence different types of students.

To examine this issue, REL Midwest conducted a study and released a report, College Enrollment Patterns for Rural Indiana High School Graduates. Policymakers and school leaders in Indiana have committed to increasing postsecondary degree attainment, and this study supported Indiana’s work by providing descriptive information about the college enrollment patterns of the state’s rural high school graduates.

“This study answers some of the misconceptions regarding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of college choices of rural Indiana students,” said John Hill, Ed.D., executive director of the National Rural Education Association (NREA) and a member of REL Midwest’s Rural Research Alliance.

Using 2010 student data primarily culled from Indiana’s Student Information System, the REL Midwest research team analyzed differences in rural and nonrural college enrollment rates. As senior researcher Elisabeth Davis explains, the study also examined the academic rigor of the colleges that students chose to attend.

The study found that rural and nonrural students had similar academic preparation, but there were key differences in college enrollment trends. Rural students were more likely to enroll in two-year colleges than were nonrural students. Davis also found that rural students were more likely to “undermatch”: They were more likely to enroll in colleges for which they were more than academically well qualified than their nonrural peers.

The following key demographic differences exist between rural and nonrural graduates:

  • Rural students traveled greater distances to attend two-year and less selective four-year colleges than did nonrural students.
  • Rural students were less likely to be eligible for school lunch programs than were their nonrural peers, suggesting that rural students have a lower poverty rate.
  • Previous research indicates that rural students plan to stay in their communities as adults, a factor that may influence their college choices.

Previous research suggests that several factors could affect rural students’ college enrollment decisions, including the possibility of high-paying technology jobs that do not require four-year degrees and a desire to stay in their communities. The availability of information regarding postsecondary options also may affect the choices made by rural and nonrural graduates.

Davis emphasizes the importance of state-specific research to address challenges. For example, Indiana may present a unique relationship between students’ rural locations and economic conditions that differs from the nation as a whole; that is, rural graduates in Indiana do not necessarily have higher poverty rates than their nonrural counterparts. This suggests that there are factors influencing two-year college enrollment among rural Indiana graduates that are unrelated to poverty and socioeconomic status.

Read the full report here, and view the related infographic here.

Meet the Alliance Member: Fred Nolan, Ph.D.

Fred Nolan, Ph.D.Fred Nolan, Ph.D., is executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) and a member of REL Midwest’s Rural Education Research Alliance. Dr. Nolan joined the alliance soon after he became MREA’s executive director in 2011.

MREA brings together school board members, administrators, teachers, and community members to serve rural school districts in Minnesota through advocacy, professional development, and networking. As executive director, Dr. Nolan drives communications, analysis, and recruitment. He coordinates MREA staff to share information with members through e-blasts and other communications mechanisms to ensure everyone stays up to date on rural education issues affecting the state. He analyzes complex data from the state education agency to distill the most actionable information for the legislature and school districts. He attends in-person meetings with superintendents from member and nonmember school districts to share the organization’s mission and to encourage participation. In fact, Dr. Nolan put more than 3,000 miles on his car in September traveling to these meetings across the state.

Dr. Nolan spent 36 years as an educator prior to joining MREA. He served as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in seven school districts—six of them rural—in Minnesota. He says his practitioner background is invaluable in his current role.

“If I hadn’t lived those roles with students, teachers, administrators, school boards, and communities, I wouldn’t be able to size something up and say, ‘How’s that going to work?'” he said. “It’s easier to visualize or imagine what a prospective law is going to do statewide.”

Dr. Nolan relies on quality research from REL Midwest and other organizations when advocating at the state level. Recently, MREA advocated and shared information with members about aproposal to introduce new credentialing requirements for Minnesota’s secondary teachers to teach dual-credit programs. In an e-blast, MREA shared REL Midwest’s reference desk response on research into dual enrollment in rural education, among other information.

Dr. Nolan also finds value in REL Midwest’s research in other states in the region. A report from REL Midwest’s Rural Research Alliance, College Enrollment Patterns for Rural Indiana High School Graduates, found rural graduates in the state enrolled more frequently in two-year colleges than nonrural graduates. About one third of rural graduates, compared to one quarter of nonrural graduates, enrolled in colleges that were less selective than colleges for which they were presumptively eligible. Rural graduates also travel farther to attend two-year or less selective four-year colleges than nonrural graduates. (For more information on this report, see the previous section of this newsletter, “Lessons Learned From Examining College Enrollment Patterns in Rural Indiana.”)

“This research informed hunches of mine about what was happening in rural Minnesota,” Dr. Nolan said. “If you have research from another state that’s very similar in terms of its composition of rural school districts, it’s helpful. You’re able to move with more confidence and refer people back to the research. You have more than just your opinion, which is incredibly important.”

Meet the Researcher: Ayrin Molefe, Ph.D.

Ayrin Molefe, Ph.D.Ayrin Molefe, Ph.D., is a senior statistician and methodologist for the American Institutes for Research, with more than 15 years of experience in statistical analysis, consulting, and teaching. Her expertise includes formulating scientifically based research designs and analyzing complex educational data sets.

Molefe’s involvement with the Rural Research Alliance is her first experience with both rural education issues and collaborative research. In addition to helping alliance members formulate research questions and determine the types of research that may be used to answer those questions, she also serves as principal investigator for the study Differences in Postsecondary Educational Aspirations and Attainment for Rural Versus Nonrural Students.

Currently under way, the study examines differences in postsecondary aspirations and the realization of those aspirations between rural and nonrural high school students in the Midwest and in the rest of the nation. Alliance members plan to use the findings to identify supports needed for improving postsecondary goal attainment among Midwest rural students and to inform policy recommendations.

“I think the best part about the research alliance concept is the emphasis on collaborative research with practitioners,” Molefe said. “It’s so much better than an approach of ‘I’m the researcher and I’m here to feed research to the stakeholders.'”

Recent Event Highlights Rural Dropout Challenge

The Rural Research Alliance partnered with WFYI in Indianapolis in September 2015 to film a public television special, Dropout Prevention in Rural Schools. The event focused on research and trends related to high school dropout prevention in rural areas and featured lessons learned from Jennings County Schools, a rural school district in southern Indiana.

The panel discussion featured alliance member John Hill, Ed.D., NREA executive director, who discussed specific challenges to rural dropout prevention efforts, including limited financial resources and limited community connections to postsecondary education. Terry Sargent, Ph.D., superintendent of Jennings County Schools, emphasized the value of extracurricular activities and exposing students to “real-world” simulations to keep students engaged. Caitlin Howley, Ph.D., fellow at ICF International, discussed how schools in rural areas could leverage connections with businesses and families in the area to strengthen opportunities for mentorship and student support.

The filmed panel discussion first aired on WFYI on October 3, 2015, as part of the station’s programming for American Graduate Day 2015. We encourage you to watch the archived program on WFYI’s YouTube channel.

Rural Resources and Events


  • To learn more about what’s happening in the field of rural education, check out theNREA UPdate, the official electronic newsletter of the National Rural Education Association.
  • REL Northeast & Islands and their Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance published a report in March 2015 on the use of online courses in high schools in the New York Greater Capital Region.
  • Visit the REL Midwest Ask a REL archive to learn what research is available on a variety of rural education topics, including support for rural administrators who serve multiple roles and rural districts that share administrators.


Events Image

  • NREA convened its 107th Annual Conference and Research Symposium on October 17 and 18 in St. Louis. REL Midwest’s rural research team, represented by senior researcher Elisabeth Davis, was presented with the Dawson Award for Best Research Paper for College Enrollment Patterns for Rural Indiana High School Graduates.
  • REL Midwest will present at the American Educational Research Association’s 2016 symposium in April 2016 in Washington, D.C. A REL Midwest study team, led by Davis, will host a session, “Studies of Rural Students’ College Enrollment and Persistence in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Indiana.” This session will explore the findings of three separate studies that address college-going and persistence patterns.
Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.


REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
Rural Research Alliance
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0004 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.


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New REL Study Examines Online Teacher Training Experiences and Perceived Professional Challenges

From Tuesday’s inbox…

Institute of Education Sciences - Newsflash

New REL Study Examines Online Teacher Training Experiences and Perceived Professional Challenges

Online teaching requires unique skills compared with traditional face-to-face instruction. These skills include using multiple technologies effectively, facilitating student engagement in an online environment, and developing or customizing online courses. However, little is known about the training in which online teachers participate or the kinds of challenges they perceive in their professional practice.

To learn more, REL Midwest and the Wisconsin Virtual School collaborated to conduct a study of online teachers’ professional experiences. Key findings from the 48 teachers who taught an online course during the 2013/14 or 2014/15 school year and responded to the survey include the following:

  • More teachers reported that they participated in training or professional development while teaching online than before teaching online or during preservice education.
  • The most frequently reported types of training included a multiday workshop or conference and ongoing training sessions.
  • Teachers most frequently reported challenges related to student perseverance and engagement; their least frequently reported challenges related to working conditions, such as feeling isolated from colleagues, and professional practices, such as setting course expectations.
  • Teachers indicated that they preferred unstructured professional development to structured professional development for addressing challenges related to student perseverance and engagement.

The report includes a copy of the survey that states, districts, or other online learning programs can use to collect data about the professional experiences of their online teachers.

Read the report at:

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. To receive regular updates on REL work, including more reports like this, follow NCEE on Twitter: @IES_NCEE. To provide feedback on this or other REL work,

You have received this message because you subscribed to a newsflash service through IES or one of its centers.

By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCES, NCER, NCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

To obtain hard copy of many IES products as well as hard copy and electronic versions of hundreds of other U.S. Department of Education products please visit or call 1-877-433-7827 (877-4-EDPUBS).

Article Notice – Virtual School Counseling

This is an interesting, and somewhat unique, research study…

Debra S. Osborn, Ph.D.

Debra S. Osborn, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Florida State University, Talahassee, FL. E-mail:

Gary W. Peterson, Ph.D.

Gary W. Peterson, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus at Florida State University.

Rebecca R. Hale, MS

Rebecca R. Hale, MS, is assistant director of graduate and professional school advising at the University of Virginia Career Center in Charlottesville, VA.

The advent of virtual schools opens doors to opportunity for delivery of student services via the Internet. Through the use of structured interviews with four practicing Florida virtual school counselors, and a follow-up survey, the authors examined the experiences and reflections of school counselors who are employed full time in a statewide virtual school. Findings highlight how virtual school counselors differ in their activities from traditional school counselors. This article presents implications for practice, training, and future research.

Published Online: 2015-07-27

November 25, 2015

[CNIE-L] Ateliers du REFAD – Hiver 2016

For my Francophone readers…

Ateliers de perfectionnement du REFAD de février et mars 2016

Pour le début de 2016, le Réseau d’enseignement francophone à distance du Canada (REFAD; offre cinq ateliers de perfectionnement en éducation à distance. Ces ateliers sont destinés aux enseignants du secondaire et du postsecondaire, aux administrateurs et aux personnes-ressources (tuteurs, conseillers, techniciens, etc). LE NOMBRE DE SITES ET DE PARTICIPANT(E)S ÉTANT LIMITÉ, NOUS ACCEPTONS UNIQUEMENT LES INSCRIPTIONS DE GROUPE. LA PRIORITÉ SERA DONNÉE AUX MEMBRES DU REFAD.


Les tarifs sont de 150 $ par site pour les membres du REFAD et de 195 $ par site pour les non-membres. Pour obtenir de plus amples informations ou pour vous inscrire: REFAD, Téléphone: (514) 284-9109,  Courriel:


Si le nombre d’inscriptions s’avère insuffisant pour un atelier en particulier, cet atelier sera annulé. Ces ateliers sont rendus possibles grâce à un financement du ministère du Patrimoine canadien et du Secrétariat aux affaires intergouvernementales canadiennes du Québec (SAIC).



Atelier 1) Des défis pour développer un certificat à distance en quelques mois ! Lesquels ?
Offert par audioconférence appuyée par Internet par Serge Gérin-Lajoie (Université Laval)


Description :
Lors de cette communication, nous proposons la présentation d’un cas particulier ainsi que le partage des réflexions d’un conseiller pédagogique qui a été appelé à relever le défi d’accompagner le développement d’un programme à distance (dix cours) dans un contexte particulier : développement du programme en sept mois, une direction de programme et enseignants novices en formation à distance, une faculté ayant peu d’expérience en formation à distance au sein d’un établissement où la formation à distance est un mode de formation existant depuis quelques décennies. Dans tout ce processus, le conseiller pédagogique à identifié une série de défis pédagogiques, technologiques et administratifs dont l’analyse permet de dégager des apprentissages et des leçons pouvant être réutilisés au sein d’autres établissements actifs dans le développement de cours et de programme à distance.



Atelier 2) La formation à distance dans tous ses contextes !
Offert par audioconférence appuyée par Internet par René Bélanger (Cégep de Matane – FADIO)


Description :
Depuis 2013, le Cégep de Matane a lancé différents projets en FAD dans ces programmes réguliers d’enseignement pour contrer la baisse de clientèle que subissent les cégeps en région. Plusieurs modèles de FAD sont utilisés afin de répondre aux besoins et maintenir l’offre des programmes. Dans cette présentation, vous verrez l’organisation technique, physique et pédagogique ainsi que les avantages et inconvénients de chacun des modes utilisés. Présentation utile et pratique pour tous ceux qui font de la FAD ou qui désirent amorcer un projet. Le cégep est membre du regroupement FADIO (Formation à distance interordres au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine).


Atelier 3) Réaliser et médiatiser un cours en ligne : Un travail collaboratif
Offert par audioconférence appuyée par Internet par Catherine Parissier, Suzanne Corriveau, Diane Paradis, Nicolas Boivin (UQTR)
LE MERCREDI 9 MARS 2016 (12H00 À 13H30 / HEURE DE L’EST)


Description :
Pour cet atelier, venez partager avec l’équipe de l’UQTR le modèle de travail collaboratif, son expérience sur la formation à distance et, plus particulièrement, sur les cours en ligne. Lors de cet atelier, nous couvrirons les sujets suivants :  Les chiffres clés et bref historique de la formation à distance (Cours en ligne – capsule non créditée/ CLOM) à l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières  /  Le fil rouge de l’idée à la médiatisation d’un cours en ligne / Les étapes clés de réalisation et les intervenants de divers services directement impliqués, un travail de collaboration / Des exemples concrets menant au succès.  Le tout suivi d’une période d’échange et de questions des participants



Atelier 4) Les défis de l’interaction en formation à distance
Offert par audioconférence appuyée par Internet par Gustavo Angulo Mendoza, Cathia Papi, Caroline Brassard (TÉLUQ)
LE MERCREDI 16 MARS 2016 (12H00 À 13H30 / HEURE DE L’EST)


Alors que les interactions entre apprenants sont susceptibles d’améliorer la situation des apprenants à distance en favorisant la création de liens sociaux et l’apprentissage par la discussion, divers dispositifs technopédagogiques ont été mis en place dans bon nombre d’établissements depuis plusieurs années. Cependant, force est de constater un manque de diffusion aussi bien des bonnes pratiques repérées que des démarches non propices à l’apprentissage et à la persistance des étudiants. Il a donc semblé opportun aux animateurs de l’atelier de réaliser une revue de littérature des recherches portant sur des dispositifs de formation à distance impliquant l’interaction médiatisée entre apprenants. D’où la mise en œuvre d’une recherche visant à faire la synthèse des connaissances sur ce sujet afin d’identifier les dispositifs d’interaction entre étudiants favorables à la réussite de ces derniers dans le contexte de la formation à distance en enseignement supérieur au Canada. Cette recherche, financée par le CRSH, s’est terminée en novembre 2015. Les chercheurs impliqués dans le projet proposent donc d’en dévoiler la démarche et les résultats


Atelier 5) Guide de bonnes pratiques en tutorat à distance : des études de cas et quelques réponses

Offert par audioconférence appuyée par Internet par Marcelle Parr et Mélanie Bergeron (SOFAD)

LE MERCREDI 30 MARS 2016 (12H00 À 13H30 / HEURE DE L’EST)


Apprendre en tout temps et en tout lieu exige une grande part d’autonomie et d’adaptation. Comment apprendre par soi-même ? Quelles compétences mobiliser ? Sur quelles ressources compter? Soutenir l’apprentissage autonome chez l’apprenant à distance fait appel à la capacité du tuteur et de l’équipe tutorale d’aider l’apprenant à adopter des comportements stratégiques lui permettant de se définir comme apprenant et de mobiliser ses ressources.  Cet atelier présente un cours en ligne conçu dans le but de soutenir les interventions tutorales pour répondre aux attentes et aux besoins des apprenants à distance. En amont de l’activité, les participants pourront explorer le cours, amorcer leur réflexion et proposer des pistes d’action. Lors de l’atelier, les participants auront l’occasion d’échanger sur les solutions qu’ils auront apportées et d’approfondir leur connaissance de l’outil. Le Guide de bonnes pratiques en tutorat à distance est un outil interactif en ligne conçu pour répondre aux besoins de perfectionnement des personnels la formation à distance à la formation générale des adultes et à la formation professionnelle au Québec. Il peut également convenir à tout organisme œuvrant en formation à distance



C.P. 47542
Comptoir postal Plateau Mont-Royal
Montréal (Québec) H2H 2S8
Téléphone : (514) 284-9109
Télécopieur : (514) 284-9363
Courriel :
Site Web :
– Colloque REFAD à Ottawa / 26 et 27 mai 2016
– Guide sur l’apprentissage mobile
– Webographie de la FAD
– Étude sur les jeux sérieux


***Messages are posted in the language received.***
***Les messages sont affichés dans la langue dans laquelle nous les avons reçus.***
Twitter = @cnie_rcie
Facebook = CNIE-RCIÉ

AERA16 Insider – November 2015

From yesterday’s inbox…

AERA16 Insider
November 2015

The 2016 Annual Meeting, held in AERA’s Centennial Year, will provide an important launching point for the next 100 years of the association and the future of education research. Each year, the AERA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of education researchers and a showcase for ground-breaking, innovative studies in a diverse array of areas. It is where to encounter ideas and data that will shape education practices and policies, and where to connect with leading thinkers from the U.S. and round the world. Leading up to the 2016 Annual Meeting, AERA 16 Insider will provide a monthly glance at meeting highlights and features. Join us April 8-12 for five rewarding days of ideas, engagement, networking, and professional advancement.

In this Issue:

New at the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting

Connecting Education Research to the
Wider World

An International Focus

Take Note

New to AERA or the Annual Meeting?

Friday, April 8 – Tuesday, April 12, 2016

* Registration and housing will open
mid-December *

About the Theme
The 2016 Meeting will illuminate and enhance the role of education researchers as public scholars who contribute to public understanding, political debate, and professional practice in increasingly diverse democracies in the US and around the globe. Read more

2016 General
Annual Meeting Sponsors

AERA would like to extend a special thank you to our 2016 General Platinum and Silver Sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor

Silver Sponsor
Teachers College Press

New at the 2016 AERA Annual Meeting
Centennial Symposium and
Gala Celebration

Plan to join us on opening day of the Annual Meeting for a special kick off to the second century of AERA and a celebration of the field of education research. This major event will feature an enlivening and engaging symposium followed by a gala for all attendees and honored guests from other education research associations, disciplines, and leadership sectors.

Connecting Education Research to the Wider World
AERA Ed Talks

These high-profile talks will feature powerful, rapid-fire presentations by some of the field’s leading scholars. The structure of the talks, which will focus on four major education research themes, will incorporate interactive and engaging audience discussion. The AERA Ed Talks promise to stimulate and expand thinking on issues of importance not only to the field but also to policy and opinion leaders.

An International Focus
WERA Focal Meeting to Be Held In Conjunction with AERA Annual Meeting

For the first time, the World Education Research Association—a network of major national, regional, and specialty education research associations—will hold its focal meeting in conjunction with the AERA Annual Meeting. The WERA Focal Meeting will offer a broad range of high-quality paper and symposia sessions on major topics of world-wide scope. As an integral part of the AERA Annual Meeting, WERA Focal Meeting sessions will be open to all attendees.

Take Note
Day Shift and Location Information

In a change from recent Annual Meetings, the 2016 gathering will be held Friday to Tuesday, rather than Thursday to Monday. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood of Washington, D.C., will be the site of all major events. The adjacent Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C., will serve as the headquarter hotel.

New to AERA or the Annual Meeting?
Get Your Bearings at the Welcoming Orientation
New members and first-time meeting attendees are encouraged to attend an hour-long orientation the morning of Saturday, April 9. Chaired by AERA President Jeannie Oakes, President-Elect Vivian Gadsden, and Executive Director Felice J. Levine, the session will offer an opportunity to learn more about AERA, the benefits of membership, and how to navigate the Annual Meeting.

2016 Annual Meeting PageTheme | General Info | Registration | 
Meeting Services | Housing & Travel | Exhibits, Sponsors, Advertising | Contact AERA
2016 Annual Meeting
“Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies”
Friday, April 8 – Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Washington, D.C.

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