The Challenges of Doing Educational Research:
Exploring the Layers of Online, Flexible and Distance Learning

Professor Ma...
About Mark…

Currently…
• Director, National Institute for Digital Learning
• Treasurer and executive committee member of ...
About Mark…
What do you see?
About Mark…
What do you see?
Outline…

1. Value of Higher Education
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
3. Insights from first-time distanc...
My guiding beacon…

The light comes through the cracks!
1. Value of Higher Education
1. Value of Higher Education

Funding under serious threat…
1. Value of Higher Education
1. Value of Higher Education
League tables…
1. Value of Higher Education

Guiding question…

What are the wider social, cultural and
economic benefits of distance
edu...
1. Value of Higher Education

Scott, 2010
1. Value of Higher Education
1. Value of Higher Education
In the US…

http://trends.collegeboard.org/education_pays
1. Value of Higher Education
Smoking Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older,
by Education Level, 1940–2008

Smoking Rat...
1. Value of Higher Education
1. Value of Higher Education

Canada

Half of GPD growth
is related to labour
income growth at
the tertiary level.
1. Value of Higher Education

Impact…
So called “big data” supported by powerful
narratives have the potential to signific...
Questions…

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”
Francis Bacon
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative

Guiding question…

What benefits have arisen from Massey
University’s
par...
Questions…

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”
Francis Bacon
3. Insights from first-time distance learners
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

• Issues around attrition and completion are complex
• Further investigatio...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

Research objective…
To improve the supports and services available
for firs...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

Methodology…
• Design-based research
• Mixed method approach
• Strong pheno...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

Method…
• Phase 1 - Audit of existing services
• Phase 2 - Baseline and end...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

30 –– 39 years
30 39 years
Maori
Maori
44 papers (units)
papers (units)
Col...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

1. Stories ‘add flesh’ to the
a distance learner.

‘soft factors’ of what i...
3. Insights from first-time distance learners

Impact…

I
N
T
E
R
V
E
N
T
I
O
N
S

Study Life Cycle
Conclusion

A conclusion is the place
where you got tired of thinking
Conclusion

The question is the answer…
• Who is telling the story?
• What is the story they are telling?
• What story isn...
Questions…

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”
Francis Bacon
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The Challenges of Doing Educational Research: Exploring the Layers of Online, Flexible and Distance Learning

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Presentation at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Research Symposium, 14th Feb, 2014.

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  • Number 2
  • Indeed the current funding model for HE is working against traditional distance learners as this recent newspaper clipping illustrates. There are currently serious questions being asked about the value and return on investment of distance education.
  • Moving on up: Ministry of Education
  • Smoking
    Smoking rates in the United States increased in the 1940s, leveled off at about 45% in the 1950s, and began a steady decline in the late 1960s. College graduates were at least as likely as others to smoke before the medical consensus on the dangers of smoking became clear.
    By 1970, when information was widespread and clear public warnings were mandatory, the smoking rate among college graduates had declined to 37%, while 44% of high school graduates smoked.
    Over the decade from 1998 to 2008, the smoking rate continued to decline rapidly for adults with at least some college experience, but more slowly for others. The percentage of four-year college graduates who smoked declined from 14% to 9%, while the rate for high school graduates declined from 29% to 27%.
    In 2008, only 6% of adults with advanced degrees smoked, and half of them reported trying to stop smoking in 2008.
    Among smokers with some college, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, 46% to 48% of smokers tried to stop. Forty-one percent of high school graduates and 44% of adults with less than a high school diploma reported making this effort.
  • Moving on up: Ministry of Education
  • The Challenges of Doing Educational Research: Exploring the Layers of Online, Flexible and Distance Learning

    1. 1. The Challenges of Doing Educational Research: Exploring the Layers of Online, Flexible and Distance Learning Professor Mark Brown Director, National Institute for Digital Learning 14th February, 2014
    2. 2. About Mark… Currently… • Director, National Institute for Digital Learning • Treasurer and executive committee member of ASCiLiTE • Member of the NZ National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Academy Previously… • Director, National Centre for Teaching and Learning • Director, Distance Education and Learning Futures Alliance (DELFA) • President, NZ Association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning • Recipient of National Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Email - mark.brown@dcu.ie Slideshare – mbrownz Twitter - @mbrownz
    3. 3. About Mark… What do you see?
    4. 4. About Mark… What do you see?
    5. 5. Outline… 1. Value of Higher Education 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative 3. Insights from first-time distance learners
    6. 6. My guiding beacon… The light comes through the cracks!
    7. 7. 1. Value of Higher Education
    8. 8. 1. Value of Higher Education Funding under serious threat…
    9. 9. 1. Value of Higher Education
    10. 10. 1. Value of Higher Education League tables…
    11. 11. 1. Value of Higher Education Guiding question… What are the wider social, cultural and economic benefits of distance education to the nation?
    12. 12. 1. Value of Higher Education Scott, 2010
    13. 13. 1. Value of Higher Education
    14. 14. 1. Value of Higher Education In the US… http://trends.collegeboard.org/education_pays
    15. 15. 1. Value of Higher Education Smoking Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older, by Education Level, 1940–2008 Smoking Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older, by Education Level, 1940–2008
    16. 16. 1. Value of Higher Education
    17. 17. 1. Value of Higher Education Canada Half of GPD growth is related to labour income growth at the tertiary level.
    18. 18. 1. Value of Higher Education Impact… So called “big data” supported by powerful narratives have the potential to significantly change government policy and widen educational access.
    19. 19. Questions… “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon
    20. 20. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    21. 21. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    22. 22. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    23. 23. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    24. 24. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    25. 25. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    26. 26. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative
    27. 27. 2. Benefits of an institutional MOOC initiative Guiding question… What benefits have arisen from Massey University’s participation in the Open2Study initiative?
    28. 28. Questions… “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon
    29. 29. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners
    30. 30. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners • Issues around attrition and completion are complex • Further investigation required of the ‘soft’ factors • There is a growing body of literature on first year experience • Gap in the literature on the experiences of (first-time) distance learners • Gap in the literature on the experiences of being an online learner • Dearth of research presenting the learners’ voice
    31. 31. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners Research objective… To improve the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. Guiding question… What are the experiences of being a first time distance learner from a student perspective?
    32. 32. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners Methodology… • Design-based research • Mixed method approach • Strong phenomenological dimension
    33. 33. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners Method… • Phase 1 - Audit of existing services • Phase 2 - Baseline and end of semester survey • Phase 3 - Stories of first-time distance learners in their own words • Weekly video diaries using Sony bloggie™ (22+ hours of footage)
    34. 34. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners 30 –– 39 years 30 39 years Maori Maori 44 papers (units) papers (units) College of Humanities College of Humanities Remote location Remote location Not employed Not employed 77 children children
    35. 35. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners 1. Stories ‘add flesh’ to the a distance learner. ‘soft factors’ of what it means to be 2. Distance learning is perceived to enable tertiary study to fit around other life commitments; but first-time distance students have relatively little conception of the actual demands of studying from a distance. 3. Efforts to support distance learners need to be strategically targeted and recognise the challenges of promoting success and a strong sense of belonging beyond just the first few weeks of study. http://www.dehub.edu.au/publications/reports/
    36. 36. 3. Insights from first-time distance learners Impact… I N T E R V E N T I O N S Study Life Cycle
    37. 37. Conclusion A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking
    38. 38. Conclusion The question is the answer… • Who is telling the story? • What is the story they are telling? • What story isn’t being told? • What’s missing from the story?
    39. 39. Questions… “A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon

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