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AECT 2012 - Does Experience with Online Learning in High School Impact Distance Education Experiences in Higher Education?


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Barbour, M. K., Kirby, D., & Sharpe, D., (2012, October). Does experience with online learning in high school impact distance education experiences in higher education? A paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology, Louisville, KY.

Enrollments in K-12 online learning in the US have increased dramatically, an average of 30% annually over the past decade and projections indicate that up to 50% of secondary school courses could be delivered online by 2019. Similar levels of growth have been found in Canada. The expansion of online instruction in secondary school has been rationalized in a variety of ways, one of which is the argument that K-12 students need to engage in online learning to prepare them for future online learning opportunities. This research study was carried out to investigate if there are differences between students who complete secondary school courses exclusively in traditional classrooms and those who complete in an online environment with regard to their perceptions of self-regulatory skills, experience with online learning, expectations of online learning, their perceptions of online courses, and satisfaction with learning online. The results indicated when the high school online learners were compared to the other university students who did not have any prior online learning experience there were no significant differences between them on any of the measures included in this study. It is notable, however, that the construct measuring student perception of distance course communication and collaboration was very close to statistical significance. A significant finding would have indicated that the university students in the high school online learner group had a more positive attitude toward communication and collaboration in the distance education course format. These findings suggest high school students do not gain independent learning skills and attitudes through learning in an online environment.

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AECT 2012 - Does Experience with Online Learning in High School Impact Distance Education Experiences in Higher Education?

  1. 1. Does Experience with Online Learning inHigh School Impact Distance EducationExperiences in Higher Education?Michael Barbour, Wayne State UniversityDale Kirby & Dennis Sharpe, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  2. 2. Newfoundland and Labrador
  3. 3. PopulationDensity
  4. 4. Context: Newfoundland and Labrador• The island is 43,359 square miles, while Labrador covers 112,826 - Island itself is almost one-and-three-quarters times the size of Great Britain• population was 505,469 in 2006 Census - 551,795 in 1996 / 568,350 in 1986• Larger rural population than Canada as whole• 40% population in centres with <1000 people
  5. 5. Context: Newfoundland and Labrador• 294 schools in 2005-06 - 343 in 2000-01 / 472 in 1995-96• 76,763 students in 2005-06 - 110,456 in 1995-96 / 142,332 in 1985-86• average school size is 220 pupils - 45% > 200 and 25% > 100• Most schools considered rural• 1/3 of schools designated necessarily existent
  6. 6. Communities: Norman Bay, Pop. ~52
  7. 7. Communities: English Hr. W., Pop. ~670
  8. 8. Communities: Nain, Pop. ~1,034
  9. 9. Communities: Francois, Pop. ~134
  10. 10. Centre for Distance Learning and InnovationThe CDLI was founded in December 2000 bythe Department of Education, in response tothe recommendations of the 1999 Sparks-Williams Ministerial Panel on EducationalDelivery.The vision of the Centre is to• provide access to educational opportunities for students, teachers and other adult learners in both rural and urban communities in a manner that renders distance transparent;• eliminate geographical and demographic barriers as obstacles to broad, quality educational programs and services; and• develop a culture of e-learning in our schools which is considered to be an integral part of school life for all teachers and students.
  11. 11. Centre for Distance Learning and InnovationSynchronous – Online• 30% to 80%, depending on subject area• taught via a virtual classroom (e.g., Elluminate Live)Asynchronous – Offline• remainder of their time• taught via a course management system (e.g., WebCT)• usually consists of independent work from posted homework or assignments or from their textbooks
  12. 12. Killick Centre for E-Learning Research Faculty of Education Memorial University of Newfoundland• SSHRC CURA - 8 studies in total• Overall goals: - Build capacity and increase e-learning research activity - Facilitate knowledge exchange in e-learning
  13. 13. Killick Centre for E-Learning ResearchPartners• The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, Memorial University• Distance Education and Learning Technologies, Memorial University• College of the North Atlantic• Department of Education, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador• The Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation• Rural Secretariat, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador• Eastern School District• Central School District• Western School District• Labrador School District• Conseil Scolaire Francophone Provincial de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador• Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils• Newfoundland &Labrador School Boards Association• Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association• Virtual Teacher Centre
  14. 14. Student Transition StudyExamine and compare the tertiary educationand workforce transition experiences of studentswho take online courses in high school andstudents who do not
  15. 15. Other Studies1. Effectiveness of new learning technologies in providing education to rural and isolated communities (Effectiveness study)2. Innovative and Effective Practices in Online Learning (Classroom Study)3. OPLC and teacher preparation (New teacher study)4. Perceptions of distance education in Newfoundland and Labrador over a ten year period (Historical study)5. Participation of high school students in the isolated aboriginal communities of coastal Labrador in web-delivered learning (Aboriginal study)6. District leadership for the new learning environment (Leadership study)7. Curricula shifts in a digital age (A philosophical inquiry)
  16. 16. Objective of Current StudyCompare university students who completed onlinecourses in high school with university students whodid not:• assessment of self-regulatory skills• distance education self-efficacy• expectations of online distance education• perception of online course communications• satisfaction with online courses
  17. 17. High School Online Learner Characteristics • High school online learners are very academically capable, highly literate, technologically adept • Highly motivated, self- disciplined, independent, planning attend university1 • Choice to participate in high school online learning influenced by a selection factor or selection bias2,31Barbour, M. K., & Reeves, T. C. (2009). The reality of virtual schools: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 52, 402–416.2Crocker, R. (2007). Distance learning: Access and outcomes. St. Johns, NL: Killick Centre for E-Learning Research.3Hannum, W. H., Irvin, M. J., Banks, J. B., & Farmer, T. W. (2009). Distance education use in rural schools. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 24(3). Retrieved June 18, 2009, from
  18. 18. Online Learning in High School • Some rural students complete courses only available online • Some jurisdictions in the U.S. require high school online course • Skills development from online learning experience • High school online learning helps some students develop skills that facilitate further learning44Kirby,D., Sharpe, D., Bourgeois, M., & Greene, M. (2010). Graduates of the new learning environment: A follow-up study of high school distance e-learners. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(3), 161-173.
  19. 19. Study: Sample and Participants• Sample of 160 fourth-year undergraduate students• 127 successfully contacted/interviewed (response rate of 79.4%)• 56 students (44.1%) had completed high school online courses• 71 students (55.9%) had not completed high school online courses• All students completed one or more university online courses
  20. 20. Study: Survey Instrument • Self-regulatory skills - 4 items5 • Distance education self-efficacy - 12 items5 • Online self-regulatory learning behaviors6  Self-evaluation (of learning) - 4 items  Goal setting - 5 items  Environment structuring - 4 items  Time management - 3 items5Holcomb, L., King, F., & Brown, S. (2004). Student traits and attributes contributing to success in online courses: Evaluation of university online courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 2(3), 1-17.6Barnard, L., Paton, V., & Lan, W. (2008). Online self-regulatory learning behaviors as a mediator in the relationship between online course perceptions with achievement. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(2), 1-11.
  21. 21. Study: Survey Instrument • Student expectations online courses - 7 items7 • Perception of online course communication and collaboration - 11 items8 • Satisfaction with distance education – 9 items97House, L., Weldon, R., & Wysocki, A. (2007). Student perceptions of online distance education in undergraduate agricultural economic programs. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 39(2), 275-284.8Barnard, L., Paton, V., & Rose, K. (2007). Perceptions of online course communications and collaboration. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 10(4), 1-10.9Walker, S. L. (2005). Development of the Distance Education Learning Environments Survey (DELES) for higher education. The Texas Journal of Distance Learning, 2(1), 1-16.
  22. 22. Data Analysis Mean ScoresVariable Distance Courses in No Distance Courses Total High School in High SchoolSelf-Regulation 1.97 1.94 1.95α=.706Distance Education 2.16 2.19 2.18Self-Efficacy α=.880Self-Evaluation α=.724 2.40 2.54 2.47Goal Setting α=.820 2.03 2.02 2.03Environment 1.76 1.81 1.79Structuring α=.869Time Management 2.54 2.45 2.49α=.710
  23. 23. Data Analysis Mean ScoresVariable Distance Courses in No Distance Courses Total High School in High SchoolDistance Education 2.68 2.63 2.65Expectations α=.843Perception of Distance 2.42 2.59 2.51Course Comm. andCollaboration α=.858Satisfaction with 2.50 2.50 2.50Distance Educationα=.910
  24. 24. Data Analysis• Groupwise comparisons via ANOVAs:  no significant differences on any of the composite measures
  25. 25. Discussion• Self-regulatory learning behaviors, attitudes, expectations similar across groups• No evidence that high school online learners were advantaged or superior to other university students• This is contrary to the claims made by some proponents of online learning at the secondary level
  26. 26. Discussion• Prior-high school online learning experience does not necessarily indicate that students:  are more prepared for distance learning;  have greater affinity for it; or  have more developed/superior skills that advantage them.
  27. 27. Your Questionsand Comments
  28. 28. Thank you! Contact: Michael Barbour: Dale Kirby: Dennis Sharpe: