I have now spoken with other researchers in the area of K-12 online learning. Their advice has proven immeasureable!
I am now thinking my topic will deal with one of these aspects:
A) Is there a relationship between students who were or have dropped out of brick and mortar schools and have enrolled in an online school? Are students who would have dropped out of a brick and mortar school finding success in an online school? (For this, I would need to identify the factors that would indicate a student had or was going to drop out of regular high school prior to enrolling in an online school. Focus would be with teachers and students in online schools. Problem would be getting through the university’s “Institutional Review Board” since I would need to contact students or parents).
B) Are students more successful in online schools with more synchronous or asynchronous interactions? (Some online schools have students online all at the same time or in the same room doing the online work, while others allow students to work at their own pace during a set period of time with minimal teacher interaction except what the student asks for. Identifying this continuum of online school strategies may be helpful. Defining student success may be problematic. Would be primarily quantitative.)
Every one has told me to make sure I choose something I am passionate about. I am passionate about the increasing drop out rate among students in high school and I think there is a connection between the use of online learning and students not dropping out of high school. Student learning and student success is the key and successful student learning in online courses is key to the ongoing success of online schools.