Research Wanted: Distance Education & Technology in US Higher Ed #DETAsummit

Last week, I was invited to join a group of educators, researchers, practitioners, leaders, and more before #eli2015 to discuss the state of online and blended learning at the DETA Summit (#DETAsummit), hosted by the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA). With the primary role of the DETA Research Center “to promote student access and success through evidence-based online learning practices and learning technologies,” the morning’s agenda was full and the purpose of the DETA Summit meeting was to:

  • Gather key partners and research experts to generate of ideas
  • Brainstorm crucial issues in conducting research and developing coherency in the field of distance education
  • Discuss ideas relating to competency-based education, accessibility, and distance education support

The DETA Research center has desired outcomes that focus on access, satisfaction and learning/instructional effectiveness – read more about these from the grant HERE:

Desired Outcomes

At the #DETAsummit a wide variety of folks gathered with interest to discuss what research should look like for technology and distance education. Looking around the room, it was like a tweet up of all online learning  levels of support, instruction, development, planning, and research from around the US.  The focus of the meeting was to work on the DETA Yea 1 goal: Develop a research model.

Research Model

In facilitating one of the many round tables discussions, our group swapped ideas about potential research questions that should be asked, common definitions under the distance education umbrella, standard variables to measure, known frameworks for inquiry, and shared models being used for online/blended learning assessment. Although we were only given about 3 hours in total, I think the entire room was buzzing with ideas and wanted to continue talking. The conversations were driven to list our top choices on large post-its and vote on top our top choices after seeing what other groups discussed [See post-it voting from my Flickr album]. For the short amount of time, I think the #DETAsummit  was a very productive, and we managed to gain some broader insight into what a research model could look like. With a mixed participant list, there were insights and questions  from varying perspectives and it was rather REFRESHING.

Based on the small group discussions and voting process, the research questions selected are:

  • What are the definitions of success from student’s perspective? | 33 | Wicked Hop
  • What patterns of behavior lead to increased student learning for different populations? | 26 | Safehouse
  • What are the different design components (content, interactivity, assessments) that impact student learning? | 29 | Rochambo
  • How can we define and measure student success beyond traditional outcomes (learning and competency)? | 25 | Benelux

If you are interested in distance education research (e.g. online learning, blended learning, hybrid pedagogy, etc.) I would suggest digging into the conversation and resources from the #DETAsummit. The DETA group is very open and transparent with their development process, as you can find our discussion notes shared in Collaborative Google Docs, listen/view the G+ Hangout Recording, and check out the Presentation Slides that give an overview of the day.

Congratulations to the DETA Team (who I now call the #DETAdivas) on a successful start to the work you have ahead. I look forward to following along with your progress on the grant, learning how your group utilize these research questions, and, hopefully, contributing to a better way to measure/assess online and blended learning.

DETAdivas

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2 thoughts on “Research Wanted: Distance Education & Technology in US Higher Ed #DETAsummit

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