Knowing how and why administrators make decisions is probably impossible to fully understand on some levels. Internal politics, budgets, external political climates, institutional rankings, workloads, etc. all play a complex role in how decisions are made in an educational environment. My interest is primarily how an institution makes educational technology decisions and how these decisions directly affect online educational pursuits.
The final key research interest I have is how instructors are supported and trained to apply technology in their classrooms and/or to teach online classes. It is very interesting to see how instructors can use the same technology in very different ways, some for the better, some not. I do think it could be helpful if instructors utilized an instructional coach to learn the best practices of a new tool they want to use. Additionally, I am interested in how an instructor’s own personal curriculum theory plays into how students perceive their satisfaction and learning in online courses.
Of these interests, I will probably focus on how institutions make decisions or how online instructors are supported. During the next few months, my goal is to refine my research idea and more clearly identify the “problem” in my area of interest. I have not begun to think about how I will collect this data…yet.
I find myself to be a frustrated researcher. I have many ideas and concepts that I would like to investigate, but I do not feel that I have the resources to pursue them. I have a very strong interest in understanding the effectiveness of online/distance learning in the higher education environment with a particular focus on cognition and technology; I want to know how administrative decisions (or lack of) are guiding online education; and I am keenly interested in how instructor training of online education and instructor identification of his/her personal curriculum theory influences student satisfaction and learning.
I am interested in these topics due to the career path I chose several years ago, which put me in the forefront of online education at a higher education institution. I designed policies and procedures to facilitate the distance learning program from 1997 when everything was paper and video-based until 2012 when almost all aspects of course were entirely online. During this time in 2003 I became more interested in the instructional design aspects of teaching online and started helping faculty members create rigorous standards-based courses.
Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to actually conduct research in these areas. I have however, been witness to anecdotal information during my 15 years with the program and have read journal articles and tried to incorporate solid research-based ideas into my support of faculty and the program.
Join me In Part 2 when I will talk more about my identifying a topic and next steps.