I have very much appreciated the outstanding input regarding the topic of my dissertation. Michael Barbour over at Virtual High School Meanderings shared his thoughts on his blog. I also appreciated the variety of responses from the NACOL research committee via email and on the phone.
One person recommended reading Cathy Cavanaugh’s latest report presented earlier in May for the Center for American Progress entitled “Getting students more learning time online.” An outstanding report of where we are with online learning in the United States, with suggestions for future research and study.
At this moment, I’ve decided what I am not going to research…and that includes:
- Costs of online learning
- Academic achievement comparisons (I liked Michael’s reference to Tom Clark (1983) who once said, suggesting that ” technology influences learning as much as the delivery truck affects the nutritional value of the groceries it carries.”
- Cutural responsiveness/cultural competency (not enough research in the online world on this)
So, the current possibilities are as follows:
- Identifying the success factors for students in online courses.
- Identifying professional development needs/successes for teachers.
- Studying how online learning may be causing students who have dropped out of brick and mortar high schools to earn a high school diploma.
- Studying why students drop out of online programs (we know there are a number of students who leave online courses within the first six weeks of enrollment, but we’re not sure why)