The Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR) is a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical, empirical, and pragmatic understanding of technologies and their impact on primary and secondary pedagogy and policy in primary and secondary (K-12) online and blended environments.


The library contains articles of the Journal of Online Learning Research as of vol. 1(2015) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Blended Learning in Middle School Math: The Question of Effectiveness

    Fazal, Minaz; Bryant, Melanie (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    Blended learning models can help teachers leverage the power of technology to customize student learning and differentiate instruction for students at varying achievement levels. Research on the effectiveness of blended learning in K-12 education has largely relied on case studies, and findings suggest differences in achievement outcomes based on content areas and grade levels. This paper reports findings from a quantitative comparative study conducted to investigate the effects of blended learning, specifically using the station rotation model, on the math achievement of 413 sixth grade students. Scores on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), as well as the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) were used. Student groups were selected based on teacher responses on a survey in which they were asked to identify what portion of their class was spent on blended learning practices and on face-to-face teaching. A t-test was conducted to determine the differences in the scores of students taught in traditional fully face-to-face classrooms and those taught in blended learning classrooms. Findings showed that students instructed through blended learning scored higher on the MAP assessment (M = 11.12, SD = 7.88) than students in a fully face-to-face environment (M = 8.84, SD = 7.40), t(411) = 3.02, p < .01. On the other hand, students instructed in a face-to-face setting scored higher on STAAR (M = 29.96, SD = 11.84) than those in blended learning settings (M = 26.75, SD = 11.06), t(411) = -2.85, p < .01. Blended learning was more effective in facilitating growth in math learning as compared to meeting grade level criteria. These findings indicate that schools can benefit from implementing blended learning particularly for students who are behind academically and need additional academic growth in one school year.
  • Developing Pedagogy and Course Design Skills in Novice Virtual School Teachers in Australia

    Cavanaugh, Cathy; Roe, Meredith (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    Ten secondary schools in a large statewide education system initiated a virtual school network to address the lack of upper secondary school courses for university entry in smaller high schools. This article highlights the yearlong professional learning program designed to prepare a cohort of classroom teachers, who were novices to teaching online, for developing and teaching fully online courses. In accordance with program goals, data include pre/post measures of teachers’ capabilities in the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, and external course reviews using the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses. Results show that teachers grew in all standards their self-reported online teaching skills, and reviewers rated two-thirds of the 21 course quality items as being Very Satisfactory and Satisfactory for a majority of the courses prior to teachers beginning to teach students. Findings indicate areas of emphasis for the ongoing work of the cohort’s professional learning community.
  • Teachers’ First Experiences with Global Projects: Emerging Collaboration and Cultural Awareness

    Oliver, Kevin; Cook, Michael; Wiseman, Angela (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    Two cohorts of teachers recently participated in a professional development program focused on incorporating global perspectives and activities into K-12 classrooms using contemporary technologies. One part of this program requires teachers to plan and carry out a global project with an international classroom as a means to introduce them to a host country’s education system before they travel abroad to that country the following summer. This paper summarizes descriptive survey results from 22 teachers and 264 of their K-12 students to depict the types of global projects undertaken along with the key outcomes that were supported (i.e., development of global skills, collaboration, and awareness of global issues and cultural perspectives). Results indicated that teachers new to global project design implemented two primary types of global projects: sharing and comparing cultural information and pen pal projects with either unscripted or scripted topical conversations. Students expressed high interest in global projects, but in these types of projects the topics of discussion chosen (or not chosen) by teachers and students did not lend themselves to developing advanced cultural awareness, and student interaction fell short of higher levels of collaboration. Implications are provided for professional development that prepares teachers to design more comprehensive projects focused on authentic global issues that may better elicit collaboration and expand student awareness of global issues and cultural perspectives beyond the outcomes seen in this study.
  • Taking Flight: Working to Increase Focus on K-12 Online and Blended Learning in International Contexts

    Archambault, Leanna; Borup, Jered (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    In the current issue, we are introducing a special international section. Since JOLR’s formation in 2014, the journal has sought to be more inclusive of international authors and contexts, recognizing that the field of K-12 online and blended learning goes way beyond the United States. We seek to publish and share what the broader global community has to share. With this international section, we begin a more concerted effort to recruit manuscripts that focus on international contexts. Our hope is that through a special section that will feature international research in blended on online settings, we will make progress toward our aim. For our general section, we see a growing number of articles focused on various aspects of blended learning environments. We hope that these articles are useful and relevant to your own work related to online and blended learning. As we enter our fifth year, we are so thankful to the growing world-wide community of researchers and practitioners in our field, and welcome new members and their contributions. It is through such a supportive community that our burgeoning journal has taken flight. We invite you to consider JOLR as a potential publication outlet for your related research.
  • Exploring the Concerns of Online K-12 Teachers

    Farmer, Tadd; West, Richard (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    In this interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study, we found that the experiences of online teachers are highly complex and individualized, and that the development of their concerns as teachers is largely unaffected by years of teaching experience. Because of the dramatic increase in online K-12 education, there is a need for additional research to understand evidence-based practices in online teaching. Few studies have attempted to capture the rich experience of online teachers through a careful analysis of their teaching concerns. Using two-stage online video interviews and bimonthly journaling entries, seven K-12 educators from a single Midwestern institution revealed numerous job-related concerns hereafter categorized by personal, instructional, and relational themes, along with categories found at the intersection of these three themes. The findings presented here encourage greater dialogue between teachers and organizational leaders to understand and mitigate the negative impact of these concerns.
  • Training for Online Teachers to Support Student Success: Themes from a Survey Administeredto Teachers in Four Online Learning Programs

    Zweig, Jacqueline; Stafford, Erin (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    In addition to teaching the subject matter, online teachers are tasked with supporting students’ understanding of the online environment as well as students’ progress, engagement, and interactions within the course. Yet only four states and the District of Columbia require teachers to receive training in online instruction prior to teaching a K–12 online course (Watson et al., 2014). Directors of three supplemental online learning programs and one consortium in the Midwest administered a survey to their teachers to gather information about teachers’ preservice education and professional development, the challenges they encountered while teaching and supporting students online, and their perceived needs for additional professional development. Online teachers reported that they primarily received training while teaching online rather than during preservice education. The most commonly reported challenges were related to supporting student engagement and perseverance. The results from this survey suggest that online teachers may need additional training in multiple areas in order to best support their students. Further, the results highlight that more rigorous research is needed to determine the online instructional practices that improve student engagement, perseverance, and performance.
  • Online Student Perceptions of the Need for a Proximate Community of Engagement at an Independent Study Program

    Oviatt, Darin R.; Graham, Charles R.; Borup, Jered; Davies, Randall S. (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    Research suggests that collaborative learning designs for online courses which require interaction with teachers and peers promotes engagement and learning. K-12 students seek supplemental online courses to meet graduation requirements and desire flexibility which often conflicts with required interactions. This paper asserts that online independent study learners may create a Proximate Community of Engagement (PCE) in order to derive the benefits of collaboration and interactions. Using the Adolescent Community of Engagement (ACE) framework as a lens for identifying interactions, this study surveyed K-12 independent study students to assess their perception of the need for interaction with a support community while completing an online course. The study showed that students perceive the benefits of such a community and plan to receive support from parents, teachers, and counselors proximate to their location. The study also finds that the perception of the need is significantly greater for students taking a course for credit recovery than those taking the course for the first-time. Course providers can coach independent study students and family on how to create a Proximate Community of Engagement.
  • Special Issue on Supporting Students in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments

    Borup, Jered; Hasler Waters, Lisa; Beck, Dennis (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    K-12 online learning has grown dramatically the last decade. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that this growth has occurred despite course completion rates and standardized test scores that tend to be lower than those found in face-to-face classrooms (Freidhoff, 2015; Miron, Gulosino, & Horvitz, 2015; Woodworth et al., 2015). Although these comparisons can be an important metric when evaluating the overall performance of online courses, the results do not help to identify what specifically is not working in online learning. Ferdig, Cavanaugh, and Freidhoff (2015) challenged our field to move beyond simple comparisons of online or blended and face-to-face programs and to ask instead, “Under what conditions can K-12 online and blended learning work?” (p. 52). In fact, Rose, Smith, Johnson, and Glick (2015) asserted that with enough support any student can succeed in an online or blended environment. As a result, they argued that instead of asking “Will this student succeed?” we should ask “What do we need to have in place to ensure that this student will succeed?”
  • Inquiring into Presence as Support for Student Learning in a Blended Learning Classroom

    Stevens, Mark; Rice, Mary (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    In blended learning models, students do part of their coursework online and part in small groups with teachers in classrooms. The presence (teaching, cognitive, social) that teachers need to assert in blended environments has been the subject of much scholarly interest. The purpose of this paper is to share findings from a narrative inquiry that explored various aspects of presence in a middle level classroom. Findings are reported using a series of narrative episodes that have undergone narrative inquiry processes of burrowing, broadening, and retelling. What is described is a process wherein diligent dialogue and social presence were used collaboratively between participants in an effort to cross the boundaries between virtual and actual worlds so that problems could be solved, and off-task behavior could be redirected. These findings have implications for the preparation and support of blended teachers and for the evolving theorization of presence in K-12 blended settings.
  • The At-Risk Student’s Journey with Online Course Credit: Looking at Perceptions of Care

    Barnett, Karis K. (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    To date, primary research studies have focused on examining the characteristics of successful online credit recovery programs and virtual high schools in the United States. Other research interests have investigated data regarding K-12 virtual schooling and explored effective instructional design curriculum. One manner of recognizing students in education is for “his or her story to be told” (Bingham, 2001, p. 36). However, studies addressing at-risk students’ perceptions of valuable caring relationships within their unique online environment are rare. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study is to explore at-risk high school students’ insights regarding their experience with online education, which they undertook in order to meet high school graduation requirements. More specifically, it is the intent of this study to examine the presence of care through the voices of those who journey into the virtual high school classroom
  • Redesigning The iNACOL Standards For K-12 Online Course Design

    Adelstein, David; Barbour, Michael (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2018-02)
    The research presented created a revised K-12 online course design rubric based off the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses. The redesign was completed in three distinct phases, beginning with a literature review of the iNACOL standards that compared current K-12, higher education, and other related literature to each element found in the standards to test for content validity. Results of phase one showed that the iNACOL standards did match up to current literature. Phase two consisted of an expert panel review of the standards, along with phase one suggestions, over three rounds. Viewing the standards through the specific lens of K-12 online course design, the experts combined, revised, deleted, or kept individual elements. The end result was a revised rubric based off the original iNACOL standards. This revised rubric was field tested against current K-12 online courses in phase three. Four groups of two reviewers used the revised rubric to test the inter-rater reliability. While the overall results of the revised rubric did not meet the reliability threshold for percentages, specific elements did. Future research should consider why certain elements were successful (i.e. phrasing, type of question asked) while others were not. This study could also be replicated with other widely accepted standards to help strengthen or revise expert results.
  • Designing K-12 Student-centered Blended Learning Environments

    Huett, Kim (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2018-02)
    Student-centered learning environments (SCLE) enable students to direct their own learning as they engage in authentic problem-solving. SCLEs may be designed using blended learning infrastructure present in many schools today. Using a qualitative single case study design, the researcher examined an alleged student-centered learning environment, with a focus on the environment’s core design values; and design components and methods. The context was a grade seven science classroom situated in a high-performing, resource-rich suburban school district in the southeastern United States. Sources of data included classroom observations; semi-structured interviews with eight teachers, staff, and administrators; classroom, school, and district documents; and classroom online learning spaces and resources. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings suggest that though designers value student-centered learning environments, and while the blended environment may technically fulfill the role of SCLE, designers are using the blended learning environment to support predominantly teacher-centered instruction. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed in relation to designing K-12 blended learning environments as SCLEs.
  • Integrating Online Instruction and Hands-on Laboratory Activities for Summer Learning for Students of Color: A Design Case in Forensic Science

    Elrick, Douglas; Yu, Jiaqi; Hargrave, Constance (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2018-02)
    The popularity of TV shows such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) has generated high school students’ interest in forensics. Yet, forensic science is not commonly accessible to students, and especially students of color who often attend under-resourced high schools. This article presents the design, development, and evaluation of an online forensics course created for high school students of color who were a part of an informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational development program. Two essential elements guided the course design: the target learners (high school students of color) and integrating online instruction and hands-on laboratory activities involving real-world forensic analyses. The design of the online course provided a STEM content-rich, self-directed, informal learning environment that effectively engaged high school students of color in meaningful forensics learning during the summer.
  • (Blended) Learning: How Traditional Best Teaching Practices Impact Blended-Learning Classrooms

    Anthony, Elizabeth (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2019-03)
    Decades of research have shown that the quality of instruction a student receives has a greater impact than any other factor on his or her learning, but the emergence of the blended-learning model has caused many teachers and leaders to focus on innovation and changing practices rather than on developing the research-based teacher practices that have a demonstrated positive impact on students’ learning. Through observations of and interviews with six teachers, this study shows that best teaching practices from traditional classrooms – especially (1) demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness, (2) using assessment in instruction, and (3) engaging students – do, in fact, have a substantial impact on student learning in blended-learning classrooms. These results should help leaders and teachers understand where to focus their time and energy in order to improve student learning. Key Words: blended learning, teacher practices, instruction
  • A Lesson Structure and an Instructional Design Model for Project-Based Online Learning

    Lokey-Vega, Anissa; Williamson, Jo; Bondeson, Kimberly (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2018-02)
    Research-based best practices that employ learning theories such as Project-Based Learning (PBL) have not been thoroughly developed for the constraints of the K-12 online setting, nor have they been tested in this unique context. K-12 online teacher-developers face many constraints during the process of instructional design and require additional supports to translate these learning theories into their lessons. The researchers of this study employed a design and development research method to co-develop two instructional design models for creating project-based online learning (PBOL): the PBOL Lesson Structure, which maps an order of content presentation to offer to learners, and the PBOL Instructional Design Model, which maps a step-by-step process for teacher-developers to follow in designing project-based online lessons for K-12 learners.
  • Electronic Learning Communities as a Support for Building Relationships with Students in a Statewide Virtual High School

    Linton, Jayme (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-31)
    This qualitative case study used Wenger’s (1998) communities of practice (CoP) framework to analyze how the ongoing electronic learning community (eLC) process at an established state virtual high school (SVHS) supported online teachers in building relationships with online students. Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP), which describes the participation of new CoP members as they move toward full membership, was used to examine the participation and perspective of new eLC members at SVHS. Elements of LPP were evident in case study data, particularly in the way the eLC process granted new members access to resources and to the practice of other members. Other elements of LPP were less visible in the eLC process, such as becoming and conferring legitimacy.
  • Special Issue: Instructional Design in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments

    Rozitis, Christopher; Tomaselli, Krista; Gyabak, Khendum (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2018-02)
    This introduction provides an overview of the special issue on instructional design in K-12 online and blended learning environments.
  • Supporting School Leaders in Blended Learning with Blended Learning

    Acree, Lauren; Gibson, Theresa; Mangum, Nancy; Wolf, Mary Ann; Kellogg, Shaun; Branon, Suzanne (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2017-08)
    This study provides a mixed-methods case-study design evaluation of the Leadership in Blended Learning (LBL) program. The LBL program uses blended approaches, including face-to-face and online, to prepare school leaders to implement blended learning initiatives in their schools. This evaluation found that the program designers effectively implemented all four models of blended learning as part of the program. The evaluation findings also suggest that the Leadership in Blended Learning program improved participants’ capacity to effectively lead blended learning initiatives in their school, district, or organization. Participants reported that sessions were especially effective in deepening their understanding of planning for and using technology to support professional learning; the role and responsibilities of leadership; definitions, models, and key planning components of blended learning; and traditional vs. new instructional models. Finally, the findings suggest that LBL was largely successful in helping educators apply their learning within their profession settings. Among those who completed the End-of-Program survey, roughly 9 out of 10 participants (88%) indicated that they had made changes in their school or professional practice. When asked if they had applied their learning to support changes the program was designed to address, the majority of participants (57% - 83%) again responded positively. The findings from this paper suggest that using a blended approach can help scale high quality professional development for principals.
  • Usage Data as Indicators of STEM OER Utility

    Mardis, Marcia; Ambavapuru, Chandrahasa (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2017-08)
    A key component of online and blended learning content, open educational resources, (OER) are heralded in a global movement toward high-quality, affordable, accessible, and personalized education. However, stakeholders have expressed concern about scaling OER use due to a lack of means to ensure a fit between learner, resource, and task. Usage data, or “paradata,” such as reviews, ratings, views, downloads, favorites, and shares, may yield insight into the fit. We examined paradata from National Science Digital Library (NSDL), the largest extant accessible corpus, for the extent to which K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) resource fit can be determined from user- and system- generated data. We conducted sentiment analyses of user reviews and correlations between the sentiment scores and data elements. Some relationships between NSDL paradata elements suggested aspects of resource fit. Despite prior research indicating that user reviews tended to be strongly positive or strongly negative, the results of this study indicated that educators left feedback that contained a blend of sentiments and that users usually downloaded resources they viewed. The results of this study suggest that while it is unlikely that educator feedback can currently be used to assess resource quality, with larger and more robust usage data sets, this area is a fertile area for further research into nuanced sentiment. We conclude with observed data trends and further research directions to inform online learning.
  • Understanding a Brazilian High School Blended Learning Environment from the Perspective of Complex Systems

    Magalhães de Barros, Ana Paula Rodrigues; Simmt, Elaine; Maltempi, Marcus Vinicius (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2017-05)
    The use of technological resources has the potential to make viable new and less traditional methodologies of teaching that take into account student differences. Blended learning can be a way to rethink classes so that students have more freedom in their processes of learning. The goal of this article is to understand a blended learning environment from the perspective of complex systems. We observed the classroom as a complex unit emerging from collective class member interactions. Data from one of two mathematics classes of first year high school students, in São Paulo, Brazil were used in this article. The results suggested that a high school blended learning environment, when seen as a complex system, not only frees students to make personal meaning in their learning processes, but it also provides for collective learning in virtual and face-to-face groups. Features of online discussion groups contributed to the teachers’ knowledge about the collective learning, providing them valuable information for formative assessment and pedagogical actions. The blended learning environment seen from a complexity perspective provided evidence that such classrooms demand a different relationship between the teacher, the learner, and the curriculum than relationships observed in the traditional class.

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