Using a Research Lens to Examine Your COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Using a recently developed research toolkit to drive our discussion, this session will help you identify meaningful research questions, variables, measures, instrumentation and other data collection tools, and data collection techniques to more effectively understand your and your institution’s response to providing instruction and support remotely during COVID-19 pandemic.

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Presenters

Tanya Joosten, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist, the Director of Digital Learning Research and Development, and advisor to the Provost for innovation projects at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Joosten leads the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA). She is nationally recognized in her work in blended and online learning as an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Fellow and works to guide strategic digital learning efforts on campus, across the UW System, and nationally as an advisor to the Provost, a member of the University of Wisconsin System Learning Technology Executive Council, and a member of several national boards and committees. Currently, Dr. Joosten leads a national research initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education working to provide access to research models and methods, facilitating innovate processes of data collection, and encouraging the replication of research across institutions through the DETA Research Toolkit to identify key instructional and institutional factors that influence student success with particular attention to underrepresented students. Dr. Joosten has a background in the social sciences hailing from the field of communication. Her notable keynotes include eLearning Asia, ITC eLearning Conference, and SACS COC President’s event, and her ideas have been highlighted on plenary panels at the UW-Madison Annual Distance Teaching and Learning conference and the OLC International Conference for Online Learning. You can find her ideas and work cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, U.S. News World and Report, and more. Recent interviews with Dr. Joosten are available on ResearchInAction and TOPcast available on iTunes. Her book on social media is available from Wiley Publishing, she has authored numerous articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries on human and social interactions and digital learning, and she often writes invited blog posts and magazine articles for organizations, such as EDUCAUSE, WCET, Inside Higher Ed, and Pearson. Dr. Joosten previously worked as the Director of the Learning Technology Center leading faculty development and engagement initiatives, pedagogical and technological innovation projects, core learning technology oversight, and blended and online program development.

Extended Abstract

In March of 2020, universities and colleges across the country and the globe started delivering entire programs at a distance or remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic that created a high risk for onsite courses. In order to ensure academic continuity, institutions of higher education immediately provided technology solutions to offer instruction remotely (e.g., LMS, synchronous web meeting tools). In most instances, these activities were hurried and done at a distance themselves with a focus on getting instructors and students access to technology and training on how to use the functions of the technology. There was little time, effort, or capacity to provide support for pedagogical requirements of a new medium.

Immediately, individuals who had worked in the field of online education, instructional design, or education technology felt that it was important to distinguish between the new approach to instruction, remotely, and online and blended learning in a more traditional sense. Online learning has been studied for decades and distance education even longer. This research and experience in practice has led to great strides in developing effective instruction and learning using online or digital technologies. However, it was clear that what was emerging - large amounts of replacement of face-to-face with synchronous (real-time) online tools, such as Zoom (see Supiano, 2020) - did not align with the knowledge that had developed as a field over the past few decades. The focus on synchronous online tools is problematic because of the decades of research that have illustrated the negative impact on student outcomes, not only technologically, but most importantly, in the favoring of a teacher-centered, didactic pedagogy that these tools can encourage.

In response to the synchronous online tool and other technology-focused solutions, experts in the related fields were making a distinction between the instruction being witnessed as a result of the pandemic and the evidence-based effective pedagogical models of online learning. Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, and Bond (2020) discussed the “inadequacies of remote learning and the implication of it being confused as online learning creating negative perceptions of online learning in an area that already is battling a stigma” (Joosten, 2020, para 6). Similar statements were seen across the nation, including from a newly formed council of key community organizations in the field (see National Council for Online Education, March 12th, 2020). As Joosten (2020) noted in the OLC Blog, ”there is good online and bad online just as there is good face-to-face and bad face-to-face (f2f). As Hodges et al. (2020) point out, online and f2f cannot be inherently bad or good” (para 7). While some agencies (e.g., Institute of Education Sciences) are identifying ways to evaluate instruction during the pandemic (comparative studies), this session will discuss other research approaches to understanding your and your institution’s response to providing instruction and support remotely.

The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) is a national effort to conduct rigorous research to identify key factors influencing student success in online education that was launched in 2014. Using a recently developed research toolkit to drive our discussion, this session will help you identify meaningful research questions, variables, measures, instrumentation and other data collection tools, and data collection techniques to more effectively understand your and your institution’s response to providing instruction and support remotely.

The DETA Research Toolkit was launched in 2015 intended to help overcome the lack of research literacy in distance education practice and the methodological discipline by providing a common language for educators to conduct research. It contains guides on designing research, support for data collection, and more. Notably, the DETA Research Toolkit has been downloaded by over a thousand individuals in every state of the U.S. and in over 25 countries throughout the world in less than a year. These research tools facilitate cross-institutional empirical data collection examining students, courses, programs, and institutions to identify instructional and institutional practices that influence student outcomes, in particular for underrepresented students. The new DETA Research Toolkit 2.0 has just been released and provides research approaches to understanding the responses to the pandemic and efforts to ensure academic continuity. Download at detaresearch.org.

Join me where we will talk more about research approaches to creating knowledge about the response to the pandemic.

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T. & Bond, A. (2020, March 27). The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning. EDUCAUSE Review. Retrieved from: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency...

Joosten, T. (2020, May 18th) #remotelearning: Understanding the Current Environment and Moving Forward Effectively. The OLC Blog. Retrieved from: https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/remotelearning-understanding-the-cu...

Joosten, T., & Reddy, D. (2015, October 1st). Distance Education and Technological Advancements Research Toolkit. National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA). Retrieved from: https://uwm.edu/deta/toolkits/.

National Council for Online Education (2020, March 12). Joint Response Regarding COVID-19 and Advice on Transitioning Face-to-Face Courses Online. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalcouncil.online/news/joint-response-regarding-covid-1...

Supiano, B. (2020, April, 2nd). 'Zoomed Out': Why 'Live' Teaching Isn't Always the Best. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Zoomed-Out-Why/248401.