Developing a Conceptual Framework for Research in Online K-12 Education
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Developing a Conceptual Framework for Research in Online K-12 Education. Michael Corry Julie Stella Bob Ianacone. Who We Are. Michael Corry , Distance Educator and Director, Center for the Advancement of Research in Distance Education (CARDE).

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Developing a Conceptual Framework for Research in Online K-12 Education

Michael Corry

Julie Stella

Bob Ianacone

Who we are
Who We Are K-12 Education

Michael Corry, Distance Educator and Director, Center for the Advancement of Research in Distance Education (CARDE).

Julie Stella, Distance Educator and Technical Writer. Research Assistant, CARDE.

Bob Ianacone, Faculty Liaison to the George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS).

CARDE K-12 Education

Created the Center for the Advancement of Research in Distance Education (CARDE). Chartered in March 2012.

CARDE is located on the Science and Technology campus of George Washington University and is part of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Why carde
Why CARDE K-12 Education

  • CARDE aims to be a leader in researching distance education issues and disseminating the results.

  • Specifically, the Center is committed to the following objectives:

    • Conducting research in distance education issues at all areas including K-12 and Higher Education.

    • Disseminating research findings regarding issues in distance education.

    • Using the findings of research to improve best practices (“what works well”) and influence policy making.

Introduction K-12 Education

  • As online distance education continues to grow, so does the need for empirically-based information for educators, administrators, and policy makers to use in order to make deliberate and calculated decisions about its adoption and use.

  • It is our belief that research informs best practices and policy.

  • Research in Online K-12 Education is in it’s infancy.

Why a framework
Why a Framework K-12 Education

A conceptual framework, which may lead to the development of many theoretical frameworks, can enhance online distance education research by explaining, “either graphically or in narrative form, the main things to be studied—the key factors, concepts, or variables—and the presumed relationships among them” (Miles and Huberman, 1994, p. 18).

A conceptual framework is particularly important in new areas of research to develop a solid foundation for growth and stability.

The framework
The Framework K-12 Education

Our Framework has nine components: learners, teachers, materials, delivery, methodology, evaluation, administration, international, and history. The Framework can be used to connect researchers with existing knowledge in the field, gain a better understanding of key factors, concepts and variables, outline possible gaps in the research and provide a foundation for new research.

The framework1
The Framework K-12 Education

Learners K-12 Education

Learners are of tremendous importance to research and investigation in distance education because education programs exist primarily to serve learners.

Researchers have identified success traits such as independence, intrinsic motivation, highly developed technology skills, and strong time-management skills among online learners. As such, teachers are challenged to assist students in developing success traits so that all learners can succeed in distance education.

Key factors concepts for learners
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Learners

What types of students do well in an online learning environment and what types of students do poorly (success traits)?

Online learning and at-risk learners

Online learning and learners with disabilities

Online learning and advanced academic students (gifted & talented)

Learner satisfaction

Development of social skills in online learning

Online learning in rural environments

Online learning class size

Teachers K-12 Education

Researchers widely recognize the specialized skills necessary to teach online distance education courses.

Integral to the idea of specialized skills is the recognition that teaching online distance education courses is much more complex than simply taking face-to-face material and putting it online for student consumption.

Key factors concepts for teachers
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Teachers

Preparing teachers to teach in an online learning environment

Continued professional development for online teachers

Evaluation of online teachers

Unique needs and challenges for online teachers

Student teaching (internships/mentoring) in online learning

Materials K-12 Education

  • Materials and curriculum are an important part of the Framework because of their role in planning and delivering information, so students are free to create knowledge. Course content, topics, delivery vehicles (software and course management systems (CMS)), and assessment tools create both opportunities and barriers in online distance education.

Key factors concepts for materials
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Materials

Online learning curriculum materials design and evaluation

Assessments in online learning

What topics can be taught well in an online learning environment and what topics cannot be taught so well?

Software in online learning

Barriers to the development of online learning materials

Online learning CMS use

Delivery K-12 Education

  • A wide variety of delivery methods are used in distance education. Delivery method research is important to the Framework because of its dependence on available and new technologies. This brings about areas of needed research like investigations into the relatively new acceptance of hybrid delivery methods.

Key factors concepts for delivery
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Delivery

Blended/hybrid delivery (combination of online and face-to-face learning)

Completely online learning vs. blended/hybrid learning vs. face-to-face learning

Synchronous vs. asynchronous online learning

Methodology K-12 Education

  • The wide focus of the methodology section of the Framework makes it a convenient residence for general success factors and barriers in online learning. In addition, two particularly important areas — interaction and engagement — are part of this section of the Framework.

  • Interaction and engagement are crucial to success in any distance education program because students must engage with course actors and/or content through meaningful interactions with other students, course content, or instructor to build and create knowledge.

Key factors concepts for methodology
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Methodology

Interaction in online learning.

Engagement in online learning.

Success factors and barriers in online learning for student, teacher, parent & administrator.

Evaluation K-12 Education

  • Evaluation is a tremendously important part of the Framework because of its role in continuing education and professional growth of teachers as well as its role in accountability of schools, learners, teachers, and other people involved in distance education.

  • The ability to prove online distance education as a high-quality learning experience leading to successful outcomes is the challenge faced by advocates for online distance education.

Key factors concepts for evaluation
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Evaluation

Effectiveness of online learning

Student and teacher evaluation in distance education environments

Quality indicators in online learning

Administration K-12 Education

  • Research in administration focuses primarily on public policy and legislation. Many Federal and non-profit institutes report on the state of policy or ideas for future policy changes. Fewer academic research articles exist in this area and more research reports are published, because of a stronger emphasis on reporting facts for decision-making bodies (such as the U.S. Congress, and state/local agencies).

Key factors concepts for administration
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor Administration

Accreditation of online schools

Federal/state policy and legislation

Policies for approval & monitoring of online schools

Collaboration between schools in online learning

Administrator training & development to work in an online learning environment

Counseling in online learning

Administrative and technical support for online learning (admin and technology)

Cost/benefit analysis

International K-12 Education

  • International use and deployment of distance education is a promising area of research. While the U.S. experiences tremendous growth in distance education (Ruth, 2010).

  • Additional research on non-U.S. populations as well as a mix of U.S. and non-U.S. populations would prove beneficial. Current technology infrastructure advances have made possible unique opportunities for K-12 learners to attend classes and interact with classmates from other countries.

  • International online distance education may help prepare learners for the diverse global workplace.

Key factors concepts for international
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor International

Delivery in different languages

Delivery in different cultures (differing barriers)

Accreditation issues

Accessing foreign markets

Support structures in foreign markets

Different learning styles in foreign markets

History K-12 Education

  • Nearly all academic research and reports describe the history of distance education in the introductory material, but studying the history of distance education will continue to be relevant as we use the past as an indicator of the future.

  • As well, researchers with access to historical year-on-year data about distance education might exercise the tremendous advantage of mining the data for trends, which might add substantial knowledge to the field of distance education.

Key factors concepts for history
Key Factors & Concepts K-12 Educationfor History

Replicating and learning from past research studies

Examining the historical basis for current distance education policies and practices

Longitudinal studies comparing historical data

Conclusion K-12 Education

While demand for online K-12 distance education grows, so to does the need for rigorous empirical research of its impact on teachers, learners, administrators, and other affected parties.

The nine-component conceptual Framework for Research in Online K-12 Distance Education is a categorized foundational structure, which may be of use to the academy and industry alike.

Conclusion K-12 Education

The Framework uses the strengths of general conceptual research frameworks by identifying key factors, concepts, relationships, prior research, and other studies .

The Framework adds the field-specific goals of establishing a common lexicon, empirically extrapolating research, and focusing on the design and analysis of online distance education.

Questions contact info
Questions & Contact Info K-12 Education

Michael Corry – [email protected]

Julie Stella – [email protected]

Bob Ianacone – [email protected]


Thank you
Thank You K-12 Education