DETA, Online Learning, Research

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:

http://uwm.edu/deta/research-model/

 

References

 

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.

 

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