5. RESEARCH INTO K–12 ONLINE AND BLENDED LEARNING

Richard E. Ferdig, Cathy Cavanaugh, and Joseph R. Freidhoff

Download the chapter [link from authors' institutional open archive]

Abstract

This chapter responses to the question—What does the research on K–12 online learning tell us?—by encouraging researchers to ask the right questions, answer the critics, and appreciate the complexity. The chapter asserts that researchers should study where online learning works best, and notes that some online programs are not high quality. The distributed nature of online learning is seen as raising new complexities for researchers. The chapter concludes by highlighting effective practice resources.

Discussion Questions

1. The authors say that those who want to know whether K-12 online and blended learning works often ask the wrong question, "Does K-12 blended and online learning work better than face-to-face education?" They say that the better question is "under what conditions can K-12 online and blended learning work?" Do you agree with the authors? Why or why not?

2. The authors note that some online and blended learning programs are not high quality. Based on recent research and reports that document student performance problems in some full-time online schools, is this a type of program (condition) that simply does not work well, or are these performance problems primarily a result of program implementation issues? Justify your views.

3. The authors see research on K-12 online learning as more complex, because mentor and parent roles take on added importance, content is accessed online and from different providers, and student learning may occur at any time, place or pace. Does the introduction of blended learning that combines online and face-to-face learning increase or reduce the complexity of doing educational research? Explain your views.

4. The authors cited twelve conditions under which K-12 online and blended learning programs work best. What do you see as the three most important conditions? Would you remove or add any conditions? Justify your response.

Additional Resources

Ferdig, R. E. (2010). Continuous quality improvement through professional development for online K–12 instructors. East Lansing, MI:
Michigan Virtual University. Retrieved from http://www.mivu.org/Portals/0/RPT_PD_Ferdig_Final.pdf

Ferdig, R. (2011). “Does Online Learning Work?” In J. Watson, A. Murin, L. Vashaw, B. Gemin, & C. Rapp (Eds.), Keeping pace with K–12 online learning: An annual review of policy and practice (pp. 40–41). Evergreen, CO: Evergreen Education Group. Retrieved from http://kpk12.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/KeepingPace2011.pdf

Ferdig, R. E., & Kennedy, K. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of K-12 Blended and Online Learning Research. Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press. Retrieved from http://press.etc.cmu.edu/files/Handbook-Blended-Learning_Ferdig-Kennedy-etal_web.pdf

References

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