Developing a Research Model for Online Learning: @UWMDETA Wants Your Feedback!

The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) has been busy since the DETA Summit at #ELI15. Besides building a framework for inquiry, formulating measures, #DETAToolkits, and establishing research designs and instrumentation, the DETA team has been working on developing a research model for online learning — and they WANT YOUR FEEDBACK!

The DETA team reminds us that the field of distance education research is not new, but we do need to come together to consider how we examine, support, and thrive in online learning:

In distance education, a common language or ground has not yet been established.  Although existing scholarship attempts to establish an identity for teaching and learning on the fringe or margins (see Moore, 2013), such as distance education, there is still much work to be done.  It is common in other disciplines to struggle with finding this common ground as well (e.g., Corman and Poole, 2000).  Yet, unlike many other disciplines that have models illustrative of the phenomenon of interest or research models that guide the design of research, distance education has seen little traction in this area.  A cohesive approach to researching distance education from a transdisciplinary lens is pertinent.        

The lack of common language and work being conducted in disciplinary silos has led to a disregard or lack of acknowledgment of previous developments in the field.  Furthermore, the disconnect many times between the fast moving development of practice and redundant research of already proven practices is less than helpful to developing distance education. 

The function of the proposed online learning research model is “to facilitate cross-institutional distance education research efforts as a strategy for ensuring quality in teaching and learning for all students.”

DETA Research Model (Proposed)


The research model document publically is available online the DETA website for you to view. Please take a gander and comment. Your input will not only help the DETA team, it will also support many of us who research, work, teach, learn, manage, and then some online in higher education. In the proposed research model for online learning four components include (1) inputs and outputs, (2) process, (3) context, and (4) interventions.  I was interested in the three facets that describe the relationship between and among the components of the research model, including:

  1. Cyclical: Learning is conducted in cycles. It might be in a semester system, a certificate program design, or through a series of short courses. In thinking about this, it will also be important to identify attributes of the student, instructor, course, and program that feed into this cycle of learning.
  2. Transactional: Both students and instructors engage and are a part of the learning exchange. The learning process requires efforts and contributions on both end, i.e. design of a course could influence completion rates, learning interactions, course dynamics, and the feedback loop for online learning.
  3. Structurational: As instructors and staff design, develop, and modify online learning the courses, instructional methods, and program characteristics are a direct result of human action, which in turn, facilitate and constrain student interactions in online learning.

For each of these areas, I have made a few notes and questions for the DETA team — but I don’t want to influence your  feedback before you provide your own comments/questions/suggestions  on this research model. Please take a moment to review the proposed research model and complete a very brief FEEDBACK form embedded into this website at the bottom of the page and/or address any questions you have to the DETA Team:




Corman, S. R., & Poole, M. S. (2000). Perspectives on organizational communication: Finding common ground. Guilford Press.

Moore, M. G. (Ed.). (2013). Handbook of distance education. Routledge.


A Conversation with @ACPAPrez @GavinHenning: The Future of Organizational Learning in Higher Ed #ACPAlearning

As we look to the future trends of training and development, it will be critical for professional organizations and trade associations to consider how to meet the training and development needs of their constituents. Considering the nature of how we work, the evolution of how it’s changing, and the demands that lie ahead, more organizations are considering new ways to optimize learning and development.

ACPA-College Student Educators International is one of the professional associations I have been a member of and been working with to consider new ways of delivering learning. ACPA is interested in understanding more about how to support organizational learning, with regards to its membership needs. Being involved in the ACPA Digital Task  Force and program planning for the #ACPA16 Convention, I know the ACPA International Office, the Board, and its members are interested and working on dynamic ways to learn.

What does training and development look like among student affairs educators today? What do you want your professional development to look like? How can ACPA support organizational learning to meet your needs, issues, and challenges on campus? Let’s find out more what the ACPA President has to say about: The Future of Organizational Learning in Higher Ed


As ACPA considers the needs of their current members, I plan to chat with Gavin more about how the association plans to support student educators for their own training and growth in the field. We’ll talk about initiatives and ways ACPA is innovating for organizational learning, but also discuss the challenges and considerations, including:

Join me for a conversation with @ACPA President Gavin Henning on Monday (9/14) from 12-1 pm Central Time on Google+ Hangouts On Air as we discuss more about how ACPA learns and supports  the professional development of college and university student educators. Feel free to post your comments, questions, or thoughts you have for the ACPAprez here in advance. Then tune in for the LIVE conversation here and/or join the banter on the Twitter backchannel using the hashtag #ACPAlearning

Notes from the conversation: View the story “#ACPAlearning: A Conversation with @ACPAprez @GavinHenning on Learning & Development in Student Affairs” on Storify