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Report on the Research: Online Leanring


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Report on the Exploratory Research project on Online Learning in southwest MB, 9-12. …

Report on the Exploratory Research project on Online Learning in southwest MB, 9-12.
Presented to Southwest MB School Superintendents & Web-Based Contacts Meeting for MB Education. December, 2009.

Published in: Education

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  • 1. Technology Based Distance Learning
    An Exploratory Research Study
    Michael NantaisAssistant ProfessorBrandon UniversityClark GawletzGraduate StudentBrandon UniversityMarion Terry, Ph.D.Associate ProfessorBrandon University
  • 2. Purpose of the study:
    • to investigate technology-based distance education by exploring effective practices for course design, delivery and instruction.
    • 3. exploratory, qualitative study of current practice & experience in SW Manitoba
    • 4. focus primarily on online courses
  • Data Collection & Analysis:
    • Meeting with ME consultants ~ overview of online ed in MB
    • 5. Interviews ~ 6 teachers (4 schools, 2 divisions)
    • 6. Focus group meeting ~ 8 educators (teachers, admin, ME consultants)
    • 7. Literature review
    Data analysis: transcription and analysis for common themes in interviews, focus group & literature
  • 8. The Report
  • 9. The Themes
  • 10. "You have to have tech support. It is huge because there is nothing more frustrating than if the equipment isn't working, and kids give up.”
    "We feel that it [online learning] is a necessity if we want our school open.”
    "I think that what we can bring to the kids is going to change education. To me, this is just another way to enrich what you're delivering to the kids.” 
    "There really needs to be somebody in each school who keeps an eye on the online students . . . The support would certainly help to ensure success.”
    "You have to be willing to try different things – be a problem solver . . . If something doesn't work, you have to think about how you can present it in a different way online.”
    "if everybody buys into it, the teacher, the principal at the other end, the parent, that kid is going to be successful”
  • 11.
    • clear and well-communicated plans and policy regarding online distance learning
    • 12. regional coordination for seat sharing
    • 13. exposure to online learning in earlier grades (8-9)
    • current, reliable infrastructure, including speedy networks
    • 14. technology requirements clearly communicated to students, software up to date
    • 15. unfiltered access to required applications and web sites
    • 16. student have access to required hardware/software
  • 17.
    • provide reliable, timely tech support
    • 18. inform parents & community, have face-to-face meeting with parents
    • 19. school administrators and counselors be familiar with online learning
    • 20. provide onsite support for students & liaison for teacher
    • 21. professional learning (PL) a priority , investigate various avenues for PL
    • 22. establish online community for online teachers
    • 23. forum for online teachers in SW Manitoba (possible role for BU CARES)
  • 24.
    • recognition for time requirement by school divisions, teachers made aware of time commitment and benefits of online teaching
    • 25. teachers should start slowly and add features as comfort level increases
    • 26. research optimal class size and implement into policy
    Instruction & Design
    • online teachers to mentor and guide potential distance delivery instructors on the strategies and web tools that work well. A list, or manual, of these strategies and tools could be developed by the divisions to assist new online teachers in course development.
    • 27. online teachers continue to have a period of time each day to answer queries, and to update course information in a synchronous fashion, where feasible
    • 28. online instructors implement the degree of flexibility and pacing that works best for their own teaching styles.
    • 29. teachers make every effort to address higher order thinking skills in their courses and take advantage of the features of digital technology. Balanced assessment strategies should be used to match provincial assessment strategies
    • 30. online teachers provide timely and meaningful (descriptive, quality) feedback to students
    • 31. online learning courses have a communication piece built in to promote collegiality for the students enrolled in the course
    • school divisions and schools administrators identify the most proficient teachers and encourage these individuals to teach online courses. Further, divisions should support these teachers in this endeavor.
    • students made aware of the nature of online learning and supports available to them
    • further research into online learning in K-12 context
  • 32. Final Comments
    It is evident that implementation of online solutions in southwestern Manitoba is in its infancy, since much discussion in both the interviews and focus group centered on issues such as technology and support (important to be sure) and less on pedagogy. As clear policy is developed to deal with these types of issues, steps to improve online pedagogy can be addressed.
    The recommendations made in this report will, hopefully, be a starting point for the development of sound policy regarding online learning opportunities.
    Much research remains to be undertaken, especially at the secondary level, in order to ensure the successful implementation of online learning.
  • 33. Thank you!