Virtual School Meanderings

September 16, 2020

Article Notice – A Systematic Review Of Research On Online Teaching And Learning From 2009 To 2018

This article is not specifically K-12 focused, but does include some K-12 literature (although it is important to note that it specifically stated only 53 of the 619 articles were K-12 focused).

Computers & Education

Volume 159, December 2020, 104009

A systematic review of research on online teaching and learning from 2009 to 2018


Twelve online learning research themes were identified in 2009–2018.
A framework with learner, course and instructor, and organizational levels was used.
Online learner characteristics and engagement were the mostly examined themes.
The majority of the studies used quantitative research methods and in higher education.
There is a need for more research on organization level topics.


Systematic reviews were conducted in the nineties and early 2000’s on online learning research. However, there is no review examining the broader aspect of research themes in online learning in the last decade. This systematic review addresses this gap by examining 619 research articles on online learning published in twelve journals in the last decade. These studies were examined for publication trends and patterns, research themes, research methods, and research settings and compared with the research themes from the previous decades. While there has been a slight decrease in the number of studies on online learning in 2015 and 2016, it has then continued to increase in 2017 and 2018. The majority of the studies were quantitative in nature and were examined in higher education. Online learning research was categorized into twelve themes and a framework across learner, course and instructor, and organizational levels was developed. Online learner characteristics and online engagement were examined in a high number of studies and were consistent with three of the prior systematic reviews. However, there is still a need for more research on organization level topics such as leadership, policy, and management and access, culture, equity, inclusion, and ethics and also on online instructor characteristics.


Distance education
online teaching and learning
Systematic Review
Online Learning Research
Research Themes

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