August 26, 2013

New online and blended learning research database is a critical contribution to the field

iNACOL and the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute recently announced the release of its database of research studies into online and blended learning. The database covers many topics, and we expect it to grow over time.

We have only started to use the database, but we believe that it is likely to be very valuable to the field, and we are glad that iNACOL and the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute (which is part of the Michigan Virtual University) have put the effort into creating it. As we have discussed in Keeping Pace, the question is no longer whether online and blended learning work. It is clear that they can work, but that they will not work if planning and implementation are poor. The key research questions are now around the idea of “under what conditions does online/blended learning work?”

Some of those questions can be answered more easily by common sense (e.g., you have to involve teachers) than by extensive research. We have often raised doubts about the efficacy of large research studies because of the large investment in funding and time  relative to the findings that can be determined via data mining. But the database has a variety of resources, many of which are not academic journals (and in any case some research of that sort is useful – as we will write later this week). At Evergreen we are challenged with keeping up with all of the publications, and doing so is an even bigger challenge for those who are new to the field. We expect that the new database will help.

 

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