ResearchingVirtual SchoolsLessons Learned Over The Past Five Years
Agenda• Literature & research on virtual schooling• Web-based design for secondary students• Student perceptions of useful & challenging characteristics of virtual schooling• What students actually do during synchronous & asynchronous class time
Part OneWhat Do We Know? Literature and Research on Virtual Schooling and K-12 Online Learning
Barbour, 2007 - Literature• Benefits of virtual schooling – expanding educational access – providing high quality learning opportunities – improving student outcomes and skills – allowing for educational choice – administrative benefits, particularly administrative efficiency
Barbour, 2007 - Literature• Challenges of virtual schooling – the high start- up costs associated with virtual schools – access issues surrounding the digital divide – the approval or accreditation of virtual schools – student readiness issues – retention issues
Rice, 2006 - Research• versus student performance in traditional, face-to-face classrooms• studies examining the qualities and characteristics of the teaching/learning experience – learner characteristics – learner supports – affective learning domains
Cavanaugh, 2007• rates of successful completion of distance education courses have improved over time as course design, instructional practice, support services, and student screening have been refined• knowledge of factors that contribute to student success in virtual courses has implications for the types of support services provided to students, particularly counseling and study skill development, and for course design
Cavanaugh, 2007• teacher preparation, professional development, and instructional practices are significant elements of effective virtual courses• new technologies and tools are adopted in virtual courses to decrease the constraints of the online environment and increase affordances for learning
Cavanaugh, 2007• virtual school effectiveness is influenced by administrative practices from the school level to the individual student level
BibliographyBarbour, M. K. (2007). What are they doing and how are they doing it? Rural student experiences in virtual schooling. Unpublished Dissertation, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.Cavanaugh, C. (2007). Effectiveness of K-12 online learning. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of Distance Education (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Rice, K. L. (2006). A comprehensive look at distance education in the K-12 context. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(4), 425-448.
Part TwoEffective web-baseddesign for secondary school students Experiences of Students, Electronic Teachers, and Course Developers
Why?• there has been much research on web-based course design – Collis, 1999; Gallini & Barron, 2001-2002; Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004; Kanuka, 2002; McLoughlin & Oliver, 2000; Stein, 2004• however, this research conducted in online learning has focused upon post-secondary institutions and corporate America – Gunawardena & McIsaac, 2004; Hill, Wiley, Nelson & Han, 2004; Kolbe & Bunker, 1997;• the problem with this focus upon an adult population is that there is a difference between how adults learn compared to the way adolescents learn – Bright, 1989; Cavanaugh, Gillan, Kromrey, Hess & Blomeyer, 2004; Knowles, 1970; Moore, 1973; Vygotsky, 1962, 1978
The Studies• Three studies – Teachers and developers in Newfoundland (Canada) • Jun – Aug 2004 – Developers in Illinois • Nov 2004 – Feb 2005 – Students in Newfoundland (Canada) • May – Jun 2005
The Studies• Teachers and developers in Newfoundland (Canada) – interviews with 6 individuals• Developers in Illinois – 17 completed surveys – interviews with 4 individuals• Students in Newfoundland (Canada) – interviews with 2 students – focus group with 4 students
Planning and preparationCourse developers should prior to beginning development of any of the web- based material, plan out the course with ideas for the individual lessons and specific items that they would like to include.
KISS, but not the same way all the timeCourse developers should keep the navigation simple and to a minimum, but don’t present the material the same way in every lesson.
Useful and personalCourse developers should provide a summary of the content from the required readings or the synchronous lesson and include examples that are personalized to the students’ own context.
Clear directions and expectationsCourse developers should ensure students are given clear instructions and model expectations of the style and level that will be required for student work.
Text, text and more textCourse developers should refrain from using too much text and consider the use of visuals to replace or supplement text when applicable.
Appropriate selection of toolsCourse developers should only use multimedia that will enhances the content and not simply because it is available.
Who’s your audienceCourse developers should develop their content for the average or below average student.
Do I know thisCourse developers should provide opportunities for student to review what they should have learned.
BibliographyBright, B.P. (1989). Epistemological vandalism: Psychology in the study of adult education. In B.P. Bright (Ed.), Theory and practice in the study of adult education: The epistemological debate (pp. 34-64). London: Routledge.Cavanaugh, C., Gillan, K.J., Kromrey, J., Hess, M., Blomeyer, R. (2004). The effectes of distance education on K-12 student outcomes: A meta-analysis. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved on November 24, 2004 from http://www.ncrel.org/tech/distance/k12distance.pdfCollins, B. (1999). Designing for differences: Cultural issues in the design of WWW-based course-support sites. British Journal of Educational Technology, 30(3), 201-215.Gallini, J. & Barron, D. (2001-2002). Participants’ perceptions of web-infused environments: A survey of teaching belies, learning approaches, and communications. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34(2), 139-156.Gunawardena, C.N. & McIsaac, M.S. (2004) Distance education. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 355-395). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.Hill, J.R., Wiley, D., Nelson, L.M. & Han, S. (2004). Exploring research on Internet-based learning: From infrastructure to interactions. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 433-460). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
BibliographyKanuka,H. (2002). Guiding principles for facilitating higher levels of web-based distance teaching and learning in post-secondary settings. Distance Education, 23(2), 163-182.Knowles, M.S. (1970). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy vs. pedagogy. New York, NY: Association Press.Kolbe, M.A. & Bunker, E.L. (1997). Trends in research and practice: An examination of The American Journal of Distance Education 1987 to 1995. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(2), 19-38.McLoughlin, C. & Oliver, R. (2000). Designing learning environments for cultural inclusivity: A case study of indigenous online learning at tertiary level. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 16(1), 58-72. Retrieved on July 31, 2006 from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet16/mcloughlin.htmlMoore, M.G. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching. Journal of Higher Education, 19(12), 661-679.Stein, D. (2004). Course structure: Most important factor in student satisfaction. Distance Education Report, 8(3), F1.Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language (E. Hanfmann & G. Vakar, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press.Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychologist processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, E. Souberman, Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Part ThreeStudent Perceptions of Online LearningWhat do they find helpful and what do they find challenging?
Sample• eighteen schools• a total of 38 rural school students completed the survey between February and May 2005
Findings• when asked, if they were satisfied with taking virtual school courses, 86.8% indicated that they were satisfied• when asked if they were satisfied with all of their experiences in their virtual school courses, only 5.3% selected either of the two dissatisfaction options• this was consistent with the low number of students (7.9%) who indicated that they were less satisfied with their virtual school courses compared to their classroom-based courses• 63.2% of students indicated they were more satisfied with their virtual school courses• a little surprising, given that 50% of students stated that their virtual school courses were more difficult than their classroom-based courses
Findings• students reported to spending between three to six hours per course each week• only 10.5% of the students indicated that they could access the Internet at home, while 34.2% said they could accessed at a public library and 76.3% could accessed at a friend’s home• 81.6% stated that the reason they took the course through the virtual school was because it was the only way the course was offered, 47.4% wanted to try one, and 26.3% of the students indicated it was a required course
FindingsHelpful tools in their virtual school course Internet tool Mean response (1-5) Virtual Classroom 4.82 E-mail 4.00 Discussion Forums 3.24 Interactive Items 3.03 File Transfer Protocol (FTP) 3.03 Audio Clips 2.84 Chat 2.74 Video Clips 2.50
FindingsProblems encountered in their virtual school courseProblem Percentage of students who selected this problemTechnical problems 71.1Lack of time 50.0Difficulty understanding goals/objectives of the 34.2courseCan’t find the information I need in order to be 15.8successfulLack of sense of community 13.2Other – can’t always get in contact with the 7.6instructorLack of adequate Internet knowledge 2.6Other – slow Internet connection 2.6Other – large classes 2.6
Findings Factors important for success in a virtual school course Percentage that responded MeanFactor (1-4) Not Somewhat Important Very important important ImportantClear objectives 11.1 36.1 52.8 3.42Well-organized content 2.6 7.9 33.3 67.7 3.67Exercises 5.3 13.2 50.0 36.8 3.24Quizzes 7.9 34.2 44.7 34.2 3.11Tutor Feedback 7.9 18.4 34.2 2.83Motivation of the student 21.6 70.3 3.62Time management of the 10.5 21.1 76.3 3.78studentTechnology comfort level 42.1 44.7 3.35
Ramifications• the ability of adolescents to learn in independent learning environments is less than that of adult learners because of differences in their development• the reality of the challenges being faced by rural schools is forcing more and more secondary school students into these independent learning environments
Ramifications• secondary student perceptions of the helpful and challenging characteristics of learning in this type of environment is the consistency between what they have indicated are the important factors for success and what the various adult populations have identified
Ramifications• there may be differences in the things that secondary students find useful and the things that they find challenging compared to their older counterparts• how to best situate them for success remains relatively the same: ensure that learners are provided with well designed and organized content, and provide them with time management and motivational skills to be able to work effectively in this independent environment
Conclusions• many adolescent learners probably won’t possess these two skills• more will need to be done at the secondary school, and even middle school level, to prepare students for learning in these environments• this is particularly true in rural jurisdictions, where many students do not have a choice on whether or not to enroll in these virtual school courses because this is the only means that they have to access, in some cases, these required courses
Part FourWhat are they doing and how are they doing it? Rural student experiences in virtual schooling
Case Study - Beaches All Grade• K-12 school• student body of 108• teaching staff of 15• 12 students taking 8 different virtual school courses – some taking one, others taking two or three
Dissertation Study1. What are the students’ experiences during their synchronous time online?2. What are the students’ experiences during their asynchronous time online?3. When students require content-based assistance, where do they seek that assistance and why do they choose those sources?
Data Collected• January to June 2006• 4 monthly interviews• 15 weeks of journal responses• 4 different surveys• 38 in-school classes observed• 27 synchronous classes from 13 different courses observed• 13 asynchronous course management systems observed
Trends – Question 1Synchronous Time• majority of formal instruction Image from http://www.cdli.ca/index.php?PID=AnnounceFull&NewsID=6352&PHPSESSID=f523be334ba73a54eab5707f738b18be
Trends – Question 1Synchronous Time• majority of formal instruction• students tended to stay on task during this time Image from http://www.cdli.ca/index.php?PID=AnnounceFull&NewsID=6352&PHPSESSID=f523be334ba73a54eab5707f738b18be
Trends – Question 1Synchronous Time• majority of formal instruction• students tended to stay on task during this time• students tended to communicate using text rather than audio Image from http://www.cdli.ca/index.php?PID=AnnounceFull&NewsID=6352&PHPSESSID=f523be334ba73a54eab5707f738b18be
Trends – Question 2Asynchronous Time• mostly seat work or time to work on assignments Image from http://www.waet.uga.edu/canada/canada.htm
Trends – Question 2Asynchronous Time• mostly seat work or time to work on assignments• students decided to work less than half of the time Image from http://www.waet.uga.edu/canada/canada.htm
Trends – Question 2Asynchronous Time• mostly seat work or time to work on assignments• students decided to work less than half of the time• students would complete work in a collaborative effort, particularly in the mathematics and sciences Image from http://www.waet.uga.edu/canada/canada.htm
Trends – Question 3Turning for Help• students did not use sources of support provided
Trends – Question 3Turning for Help• students did not use sources of support provided• students primarily relied upon each other for support
Trends – Question 3Turning for Help• students did not use sources of support provided• students primarily relied upon each other for support• students used their e-teacher
Trends – Question 3Turning for Help• students did not use sources of support provided• students primarily relied upon each other for support• students used their e-teacher• students used their in-school teachers
Implications for Practitioners• to provide more engaging and challenging asynchronous activities to try and encourage more on-task behaviors Image from http://www.prism-magazine.org/nov00/briefings/teacher.jpg
Implications for Practitioners• to provide more engaging and challenging asynchronous activities to try and encourage more on-task behaviors• to devise strategies that allow students to get to know their online classmates better in an attempt to develop a sense of community online Image from http://www.prism-magazine.org/nov00/briefings/teacher.jpg
Implications for Practitioners• to provide more engaging and challenging asynchronous activities to try and encourage more on-task behaviors• to devise strategies that allow students to get to know their online classmates better in an attempt to develop a sense of community online• to inform students of, and when and how to use, all of the various sources of academic support that are made available to them Image from http://www.prism-magazine.org/nov00/briefings/teacher.jpg