• Pioneering the digital age of instruction: Learning from and about K-12 online teachers

      Archambault, Leanna; Larson, Jean (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to examine the needs of K-12 online teachers, including the dominant factors and career paths that influenced their decision to teach online; (2) to discover what online teachers viewed as the most important attributes an online teacher must have to be highly effective; and (3) to highlight the nature of the preparation/training K-12 online teachers received and found to be most helpful in fulfilling their positions. A web-based survey, including questions in both open and closed form, was used to gather data from 325 participants. Based on the findings, teachers working with K-12 students online are self-motivated, place a high value on learning and education, and enjoy the challenge and process of using technology for teaching. However, only a limited number of teacher preparation programs address any aspect of the methods and techniques required for teaching online, and even fewer offer online field placement opportunities for pre-service teachers. For the most part, current online teachers were found to have received training after graduation, while working in the field. Further research is needed to specifically define and empirically validate the methods and techniques required for effective online teaching at the K-12 level so that programs can be further developed to effectively prepare future K-12 online teachers.
    • Value-added in a Virtual Learning Environment: An Evaluation of a Virtual Charter School

      Lueken, Martin; Ritter, Gary; Beck, Dennis (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      This paper evaluates an online charter school that serves children in grades K-8 in a southern state in the United States. We compare growth in math and literacy learning on state standardized assessments between students enrolled in this school and “matched twin” students enrolled in traditional public school students statewide each year from 2010 to 2012. We also examine the impact of the school subgroups that include minorities, students with special needs, and students in the bottom and top quartiles within their schools. We then use propensity score matching to match students who enrolled in the online school at least three consecutive years with an individually matched comparison group of public school students and estimate the differential value-added in math and literacy between the two groups. We find evidence of negative transition effects in the first year for students who enroll in the online school. These effects, however, dissipate after the first year and, in some instances, turn positive.
    • Teachers Using Designerly Thinking in K-12 Online Course Design

      Gyabak, Khendum; Ottenbreit- Leftwich, Anne; Ray, Joanna (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      Teachers are typically abstracted from the design process and not referred to as instructional designers. However, they are constantly designing instruction (or adapting instructional materials) on a daily basis. Teachers provide a unique perspective as instructional designers: instructional design, content experts, and instruction delivery. Thus, describing their design process is important to help support teachers as they design online courses. This case study examined and described the design process of eleven high school teachers as they designed, developed, and implemented their first online courses. Findings from this study present the online course design processes of these high school teachers and highlight the resources perceived as valuable when embarking on a their first online courses: teachers face constraints; teachers use a variety of technological tools; teachers use a variety of pedagogical strategies; belonging to a community of practice helps; teachers report valuing the support of an Online Learning Coordinator; although given similar guides and resources, teachers make independent design decisions; and teachers rely on feedback from a variety of sources. Recommendations are made for K-12 online learning coordinators, school administrators, and for first-time online teacher/designer related to the processes involved in designing online courses. Keywords: teachers as designers, k-12 online instructional design, designerly thinking
    • How 7th Grade Students are Using Resources for Learning in an Online Science Course

      Mayse, Diane (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      In this study 7th grade students were observed completing a series of lessons in an online science course to explore their thinking and strategies for using curriculum resources for learning, their thinking and strategies for self-assessing “assessment readiness”, and to explore the relationship between resource use and student grade in Science, end-of-lesson assessment score, and student learning style. A convergent-parallel mixed methods research design was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data in the same phase of this study, in order to merge the results and gain a greater understanding of student learning in the online environment. Observations of students completing lessons online, survey, and interview data were collected. Qualitative results indicate that students demonstrated various levels of metacognitive strategy use in using online curriculum resources and in determining their readiness for lesson assessment. Quantitative results indicated that resource use was higher for multi-media learning resources and lower for notes-based resources. Use of at least 70% of lesson resources showed a relationship with higher student grade in science and higher end-of-lesson assessment score; student learning style showed mixed results related to resource use. Continued mixed-methods research observing student learning in the online environment is needed to better understand the student experience of learning online, and to inform specific interventions within the online learning environment to support learning as students transition into more effective self-directed learners in the online environment.
    • Teaching Practices and Teacher Perceptions in Online World Language Courses

      Lin, Chin-Hsi; Zheng, Binbin (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      Online teaching and learning have become widespread with the emergence of the Internet and other new technologies. However, online environments pose new challenges to those seeking to develop or choose suitable teaching approaches, and this is especially true in the case of language courses. Using survey and interview data, this study examines online language teachers’ teaching practices, their adjustments toward online teaching, and the professional development (PD) that they received and expected to receive in a virtual high school in the United States. The findings suggest that online teachers generally used more non-content-related teaching practices than content-related teaching practices in online language courses; and that instructors in Chinese – the only language course that offered weekly synchronous sessions – exhibited more frequent use of content-related teaching practices than teachers of other world languages. The study also sheds light on teachers’ adjustment to the online environment, which impacts their management, social, and pedagogical roles. Lastly, our analysis of the PD that teachers felt they needed, as against what they actually received, underscores the need for more PD in the areas of online-course design and content-related technology integration. The results of this study could be useful to online language teachers and researchers, and point the way to improvements in teacher education vis-à-vis online language teaching.
    • Investigating the Potential of MOOCs in K-12 Teaching and Learning Environments

      Nigh, Jennifer; Pytash, Kristine E.; Ferdig, Richard E.; Merchant, William (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      The massive open online course (MOOC) is a relatively new concept in K-12 teaching and learning environments. Although significant work has been done with MOOCs since 2008, it has only been recently that MOOCs have been studied with K-12 populations. The purpose of this study was to further examine the motivation of K-12 students enrolled in a MOOC about teaching in the 21st century. This article provides both quantitative and qualitative evidence that suggests MOOCs can be effectively integrated with high school students. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential value of using MOOCs and other technologies to provide experiences to students they might not currently have in traditional, blended, or online environments.
    • Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice in Online Learning

      Kennedy, Kathryn; Archambault, Leanna (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      As Gutierrez and Penuel (2014) pointed out in a recent issue of AERA’s Educational Researcher, to be relevant and rigorous, a component of effective research needs to be its direct and meaningful applicability to practice. As a sharing platform for the application of research to practice, JOLR will serve this role for the field of K-12 online and blended learning. We anxiously await your submissions to this new endeavor, and we look forward to continue to learn with you to inform the field through thoughtful research.
    • A Call to Action for Research in Digital Learning:Learning without Limits of Time, Place, Path, Pace…or Evidence

      Cavanaugh, Cathy; Sessums, Christopher; Drexler, Wendy (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      This essay is a call for rethinking our approach to research in digital learning. It plots a path founded in social trends and advances in education. A brief review of these trends and advances is followed by discussion of what flattened research might look like at scale. Scaling research in digital learning is crucial to advancing understanding as digital learning quickly becomes mainstream (Watson, Pape, Murin, Gemin, & Vashaw, 2014) and as learning environments and pedagogies shift rapidly. Educators and leaders need more current and detailed insights into effective practice as education becomes more personalized (Kennedy, Freidhoff, & DeBruler, 2014).
    • Learning to Learn Online: Using Locus of Control to Help Students Become Successful Online Learners

      Lowes, Susan; Lin, Peiyi (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      In this study, approximately 600 online high school students were asked to take Rotter’s locus of control questionnaire and then reflect on the results, with the goal of helping them think about their ability to regulate their learning in this new environment. In addition, it was hoped that the results could provide a diagnostic for teachers who wish to identify students who might be at risk of poor performance. In analyzing the results, we found that total scores were not useful and that gender had to be taken into account. In addition, factor analysis identified different factors that best described female and male responses, with some factors more important than others in terms of their relationship with final grades. The student reflections showed that they were thinking about the need for self-regulation in online learning. Finally, we offer some suggestions for others who would like to use the concept of locus of control to help students learn to learn online.
    • Documenting and Sharing the Work of Successful On-site Mentors

      Freidhoff, Joseph; Borup, Jered; Stimson, Rebecca; DeBruler, Kristen (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-02)
      Emerging research suggests that on-site mentors can play an important role in supporting K-12 online learners, yet in practice there is wide variability in what mentoring looks like from program to program. Recently, states like Michigan have expanded online course access programs, accelerating the need for better on-ground support models for online learners. Unfortunately, many K-12 personnel have received little training on what different mentoring models could look like or should look like. In the absence of such professional development, many have simply learned by doing. This descriptive study provides insight into established and successful mentoring programs by way of mentor interviews that highlight a range of mentoring program practices, providing points of comparison for mentors, instructors, administrators, parents, and students in regard to alternative support structures and/or strategies for online learners.
    • Fostering Student Success and Engagement in a K-12 Online School

      Curtis, Heidi; Werth, Loredana (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-08)
      Although questions exist about the effectiveness of online education, it is a growing part of the pantheon of educational choices available to students in America today. Online education first gained popularity for advanced learners, but at-risk populations are increasingly enrolling in online learning environments. This study explores student achievement in a K-12, full-time, online learning environment and the effect parents have on student success. Themes from semi-structured interviews found parents of current or former students in a full-time, online school perceive multiple facets of student success in the online environment. Online K-12 schools can provide support to families by communicating, being transparent with tools, and individualizing instruction. Students must be self-motivated, engaged and participating, and accountable for their own learning. Parents should be available to monitor, mentor, and motivate students.
    • Computer Versus Computer and Human Support in an Argumentation-based Science Learning Environment

      Akpinar, Yavuz; Ardac, Dilek; Amuce, Neslihan Er (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-08)
      Technological advancements have made it possible to design learning environments which support multiple representations, discussions and experimentations. This study designed and developed a web based argumentation environment, Argümantaryum. It provides virtual experimentation with, visually rich multi-representations of contents, video, and simulations upon which students may base their arguments and learn some elementary level science units related to matter. It has also a built-in discussion forum and an instant messaging component both of which contain argumentation sentence-openers. Following the implementation, the system was tested in real classroom settings under different study schemes for different learning units. Results revealed that when students used the system collaboratively under a teacher’s guidance, students made progress in terms of both scientific discussion skills and knowledge of the learning units accommodated in the platform. Similar results were also obtained when the same usage scheme was followed for another learning unit. Finally, the report compared performance of the system to a human support only learning environment, and provided a discussion and a set of recommendations on how to further evaluate the platform.
    • Credit Recovery in a Virtual School: Affordances of Online Learning for the At-Risk Student

      Oliver, Kevin; Kellogg, Shaun (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-08)
      This paper summarizes evaluation findings about a high school credit recovery (CR) program as solicited by a state-sponsored virtual school in the United States. Student and teacher surveys explained why CR students failed previous instances of face-to-face courses and defined how the online CR model helped these learners overcome both internal issues of self-direction and time management and external issues of teacher support and feedback. Comparisons between the CR course group and general studies and honors course groups suggested several significant differences of interest that were interpreted by qualitative comments and prior research. Comparative data helped to define unique needs of the CR population (e.g., may require added technology and support to participate online), areas of success in the CR program (e.g., CR students report learning more online), and areas for expansion in CR courses (e.g., may benefit from added collaborative, project-based work).
    • Design and enactment of online components during four blended learning courses

      Wayer, Nicola; Crippen, Kent; Dawson, Kara (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-08)
      This study investigated the ways in which four K-12 teachers, following professional development in blended learning, designed the online portion of their blended learning courses and how these online components were ultimately enacted with students. Specifically, the study investigates what kind of content, resources, or activities were developed online; how content, resources, or activities were enacted with students; and how blended learning practices differed across content areas. Findings revealed that the online components of these courses varied in how much they were enacted as designed; levels of online student activity; the amount of control students had over time, place, path, and/or pace; and whether the online components were oriented towards learning from technology or learning with technology.
    • Book Review–Online, Blended, and Distance Education: Building Successful Programs in Schools

      Adelstein, David (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2015-08)
      This article is a review of Online, Blended, and Distance Education: Building Successful Programs in School. This book gives a much-needed global overview on the current state of K-12 e-learning. Editors Tom Clark and Michael K. Barbour have gathered a wide array of academics and educators to author chapters on a fervently discussed topic, one that has a growing, but a surprisingly limited body of research. The vast scope of the book, which looks at the online educational process from creation to practice, offers insight to a large audience consisting of educators, administrators, and researchers in the field.
    • Moving Forward and Moving On: Continuing the Mission of K-12 Online Education Research

      Archambault, Leanna; Kennedy, Kathryn (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-20)
      It is hard to believe that 2016 has come and gone, and with it, we wrap up the second volume of the Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR). As Gretchen Rubin once observed, “The days are long, but the years are short.” True words indeed. It seems as if this year has both lagged on and flown by, filled with plenty of challenges and obstacles to overcome. While it hasn’t always been easy, we press on. Our work continues, and with it, important contributions are made to the field of K-12 online and blended education. As always, we wish to thank you for your continued support and readership.
    • Effects of Educational Technology on Mathematics Achievement for K-12 Students in Utah

      Brasiel, Sarah; Jeong, Soojeong; Ames, Clarence; Lawanto, Kevin; Yuan, Min; Martin, Taylor (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-20)
      Teaching mathematics has long required the use of technology due many powerful affordances. More recently, education technology has been developed to support personalized learning through the use of adaptive learning systems. Through the use of educational technology in online learning, there is great potential for improving students’ mathematics achievement. In this article, we report the results of an evaluation study, where 11 online mathematics educational technology products were distributed to close to 200,000 K-12 students and their teachers in the state of Utah to supplement classroom instruction. While only ten percent of students used the products at the recommended level over the course of the 2014-15 school year, there were six products where an educationally meaningful impact on mathematics achievement was found. While teachers responded positively, a third of teachers reported lack of access to technology as a barrier. We are already seeing improved usage during the second year of the project due to modifications to the expectations for schools based on what was learned from the first year of implementation.
    • An Analysis of the Curriculum Requirements for K-12 Online Teaching Endorsements in the U.S.

      McAllister, Laura; Graham, Charles (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-20)
      This study examined existing K-12 online teacher preparation programs in the United States to ascertain the degree to which teachers are prepared to function in online/blended classroom learning environments. This study used a content analysis approach. Research specifically targeted online teacher preparation programs implemented in institutions of higher education. The researcher collected data from state offices of education and institution deans through email surveys inquiring about the existence and capacity of K-12 online teaching endorsements, course descriptions and other course documents.
    • Parents’ Perceptions of Teacher Support at a Cyber Charter High School

      Borup, Jered; Stevens, Mark (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-20)
      Despite high growth rates, cyber charter schools experience higher attrition rates than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Students’ reasons for failing an online course are complex and students may require a high level of teacher support to be successful online. Research examining effective teacher engagement has relied heavily on teacher perceptions and perceptions of parents may prove especially insightful. In this research we conducted 19 interviews among 9 parents of students who were enrolled at a cyber charter school. Interview analysis was guided by, but not limited to, the elements of teacher engagement described in the adolescent community of engagement (ACE) framework. Parents tended to be highly satisfied with the course quality and the support that teachers provided to their students. However, parents also expressed a degree of dissatisfaction with their students’ experience in the school and provided recommendations for improvement.
    • Professional Development Needs of Online Teachers

      Roy, Mamta; Boboc, Marius (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 2016-02-20)
      Keeping in mind the rising rate of K-12 enrollment, and the increased demand for online teachers, the need for professional development of online teachers is keenly felt. The skills needed for teaching in face-to-face environments are not always transferable to online settings. There is a pointed change in the way teaching takes place in an online format, which calls for an understanding of teacher roles and the competencies prompted by this paradigm shift. A lack of understanding of the pedagogical transformations required by online teaching could lead to teacher stress. The purpose of this study was to understand the extent to which educators teaching in K-12 online settings in Ohio are equipped to work in such environments by relying on specific competencies and skill sets. This understanding would then enable the development of programs designed to address their professional development needs.