5 Online Learning Research Initiatives We’re Excited About Right Now


Dr. Jessica Knott, AVP of Community Strategy, Experience, and Management

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Last week, Dr. Peter Shea shared with us a bit of the history of the Online Learning Journal (previously the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks) and how the Sloan Consortium (now Online Learning Consortium) was a pioneer in quality, open, peer-reviewed scholarship.

Online Learning Consortium staff, board members, and advisors have deep knowledge and expertise in research spaces and are committed to partnering to create knowledge and further scholarship in the field of online, blended, and digital learning.

While next week we’ll look at the articles that have been our most-read over time, this week’s focus is on highlighting current research initiatives and scholarship that will be released in the very near future.


Practical Guidance for Creating More Compassionate, Equitable, and Inclusive Learning Assessments

Recently, OLC CEO Dr. Jennifer Mathes and OLC Board Vice President Dr. Elizabeth Ciabocchi contributed this in-depth work on Compassionate, Equitable, and Inclusive Assessment in Online Learning to the AACU Next-Gen Assessment training series for educators.

In it, they acknowledge the incredible difficulties that colleges and universities have faced in “[situating] learning and assessment in the unique context of an ongoing global crisis that has completely disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of students and their families.”

These struggles are seen in the incredible growth in the adoption of proctoring solutions and the debate surrounding them, as well as in many proctoring companies’ efforts to adjust their product roadmaps based on those very debates.


Trends in Faculty Experiences Amid the Shift to Remote Teaching

On Friday, March 5, OLC Chief Academic Officer Angela Gunder will join researchers Dr. Nicole Johnson and Dr. Jeff Seaman of Bayview Analytics for a webinar discussion of the forthcoming first of three reports on the faculty COVID-19 experience. Digital Faculty: Social Media and Communications report, sponsored by Pearson.

This one-hour webinar, entitled Moving to Digital: The Faculty Experience in How COVID-19 Brought Us Online will share some of the findings from the report as well as allow you the opportunity to hear not only key findings, but also why they matter to the context of where we find ourselves as a field in flux.

In flux? Yes. In the spring of 2020, 64% of faculty said their current teaching is “different or very different in comparison to their teaching pre-pandemic.” These differences are shaping practice, and likely to continue in ways we can’t yet fully understand into the near and long-term future.


Research-Backed Tips for Teaching Labs Online in STEM Courses

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of researchers and partners coordinated with Bayview Analytics to research STEM faculty perceptions of online teaching and learning. As the pandemic changed everyone’s focus, it also changed the focus of this report.

In the coming week, OLC, Bayview Analytics, Every Learner Everywhere, Carolina Distance Learning, DigitalEd, and HHMI BioInteractive will release the reconceived report STEM Education in the Time of COVID. Visit this interactive infographic for a sneak peek of some key findings.


Findings from the HBCU Action Network

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit at the upcoming OLC Innovate conference is rooted in the three different themes coming from an innovative paper spearheaded by OLC Board member Dr. Kim Cliett Long and written by the OLC community. This paper and summit will highlight findings as well as inspire action, a unique event and publication in the field at this time. There is still time to register for OLC Innovate March 15-19, 2021 to experience and contribute to the work of this summit.


A Toolkit for Your Own Research

If these research initiatives excite you and you’re wondering how to get involved beyond reading, the Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) Toolkit version 2.1 is an invaluable resource for educators and researchers alike who are looking to begin a study in online, blended, or digital learning.

Attend the Research Summit at OLC Innovate to hear from DETA Co-Director and OLC Board Members Dr. Tanya Joosten and Dr. Patsy Moskal, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater assistant professor Dr. Eric Loepp, and DETA contributors Dr. Jessica Knott, and Dr. Nicole Weber (both of OLC) who will lead you in a discussion of recent data trends, methods, and findings in the field of online, digital, and blended learning and student success, which will dovetail into two active building sessions in which you will formulate research questions and then think about your research designs through the lens of scholarly publication channels.

As with the HBCU Summit mentioned above, there is still time to register for OLC Innovate March 15-19, 2021 to experience and contribute to the work of this summit.


Join us here on the blog and OLC social media channels again next week as we have some throwback fun! We’ll begin sharing out a retrospective of the most read articles from the Online Learning Journal, and fostering discussion around how things have or have not changed in practices, data, findings, and contexts since the time of their publication. We’re excited to hear from you!


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