Research into the Teaching of K-12 Online Learning

Kathryn Kennedy, Georgia Southern University

Welcome to Part 1 of Week 3 of the Virtual School 2012 MOOC! The information compiled here is centered around research on and practice in K-12 online teaching. As you've learned over the past few sections of the MOOC, K-12 online learning continues to have a lasting impact on the current education landscape in many ways. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have online learning opportunities for K-12 students (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2011). Some states passed laws requiring that K-12 students take one online learning course before graduating high school (Watson et al., 2011). The growth in online learning and policies that govern it warrant the need for teachers to be prepared to teach online (Archambault, 2011). Professional organizations, such as the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and National Education Association (NEA), have created standards for the preparation/training and evaluation of online teachers. A cross-referenced of how these standards align is available in existing literature (Kennedy & Archambault, 2012). In addition to these standards, the Quality Matters Standards (2011)as well as a white paper produced by SRI for the Virtual High School Global Consortium are key in defining quality online courses are in practice (Yamashiro & Zucker, 1999). In addition to existing standards and reports, studies have been conducted that report on qualities of effective online teachers (DiPietro, Ferdig, Black, & Preston, 2008; Kearsley & Blomeyer, 2004; Fuller, Norby, Pearce, & Strand, 2000; Dabner, Davis, & Zaka, 2012; Harms, Niederhauser, Davis, Roblyer, & Gilbert, 2006; Davis & Niederhauser, 2007; Brennan, 2003).

In order to create this resource, I asked the field's leading researchers and practitioners in K-12 online teaching to contribute to make this as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. The contributors are listed below their contributions. The contributions are highlighted in RED font. The resources that have been contributed include but are not limited to, excerpts from research articles, and audio and video recordings of the researchers sharing their research about K-12 online teaching.

Steps to completing this section:

  1. Pick at least two of the resources provided by the contributors located below. These resources are illustrated in RED font.
  2. Reflect on these resources by creating an artifact using a Web 2.0 tool and posting a link on your blog or by writing a blog entry.

Contributions from Leading Researchers & Practitioners

TEGIVS: Teacher Education Goes Into Virtual Schooling

Case studies researched to support the start with quality courses in shortage subjects for Iowa Learning Online in 2005 consider the challenges of practical activities in science and related subjects. Case studies still relevant in 2011 include courses for secondary students in Iowa and Queensland in Australia. Can you identify ways that you could research and develop lab activities for quality courses online? Are additional teacher competences required?

Further analysis contrasting two of the cases later clarified that the evolution of courses over time was linked to the ecology in which the teacher was employed (Davis & Niederhauser 2005). A teacher who remained on a school campus in networked school tended to continue to adapt campus-based approaches, while a teacher in a virtual campus was better able to develop innovative practices that exploited the potential of ICT and shared virtual classroom.

In New Zealand VLN clusters of schools collaborate together to provide courses for their often rural schools, which they also ‘trade’ nationwide. Each VLN e-learning cluster is led by an ePrincipal. In this DEANZ webinar Kerry Stevens (2010) presents his research into the role of the ePrincipal hosted by Niki Davis who was the supervisor of his MEd. He identifies that this mode of Virtual Schooling maybe reaching a limits and a crisis point may arise soon. Note also the application and extension of roles in VS first developed during the TEGIVS project. Barbour, Davis & Wenmoth (2011) also identify a range of maturity challenges for the VLN.

“Teacher education goes into Virtual Schooling” (TEGIVS) was the first project to research and develop Virtual Schooling in preservice/initial teacher education. This web site remains with a range of resources, including a multimedia lab tool that aims to challenge student teachers’ preconceptions about virtual courses. Do they still fit today? See also Michael Barbour’s cases below.

TEGIVS also developed a field experience in Virtual Schooling in collaboration with Iowa Learning Online. Compton and Davis (2010)provides a tour of the course that Lily Compton led for ISU students as part of TEGIVS. Her research indicated that the experience dispel many of the preconceptions that had arisen from over generalisation of prior traditional classroom experiences:

Contributed Dr. Niki Davis
University of Canterbury
Professor of E-Learning
Christchurch, New Zealand

Distance Education in the Decade Ahead

Interview with Cathy Cavanaugh regarding her vision of the future of online K-12 education in the United States.

Contributed by:
Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh
Associate Director in Higher College of Technology
United Arab Emirates

Going Virtual Series: Studying professional development for K-12 online teachers

Contributed by:
Dr. Kerry Rice
Boise State University

Dr. Lisa Dawley
CEO & Founder, GoGo Labs

TeachNet Podcast: Learning Online Podcast

In the News - K-12 online teaching

Contributed by:
Dr. Leanna Archambault
Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Research Collaborator, Center for Sustainable Health

North Carolina Virtual Public Schools: Transitioning from face-to-face to online instruction

Links to the two short videos that I use when recruiting new teachers to provide them with a foundation of online teaching.

How Does Online Teaching Occur?:
The Three Pillars of Online Teaching:

Here are three videos that are referenced in the above videos:

A Vision for K-12 Students

Paying Attention

A Vision of a 21st Century Teacher

Contributed by:
Janice Silver
Modular Learning Specialist
North Carolina Virtual Public School

Georgia Virtual School Teacher Education Research and Trends by Dr. Joe Cozart

Video shared by:
Dr. Joe Cozart
Associate Director of Strategic Planning
Georgia Department of Education
Office of Technology Services

Online Collaborate Construction of Knowledge text

Online Collaborate Construction of Knowledge video

Analysis of Online Conversations using the ISM

Math-Towers: Online Collaborative Mathematical Explorations for Grades 6 – 10 text

Math-Towers: Online Collaborative Mathematical Explorations for Grades 6 – 10 video

Math-Towers: Links to website and related research

Collabmath: Online Collaborative Problem Solving for Senior Secondary, College, and University Students text

Collabmath: Online Collaborative Problem Solving for Senior Secondary, College, and University Students video

Collabmath: Links to website and related research

Future Directions in Teacher Preparation text

Future Directions in Teacher Preparation video

Contributed by:
Dr. Geoff Roulet
Associate Professor
Mathematics Education & Applications of ICT in Teaching and Learning
Faculty of Education
Queen's University at Kingston
Ontario, Canada

Research conducted at the Florida Virtual School

Damon Regan's study: Investing gender differences in student preferences for and achievement with educational games

Marissa Middleton's study: An examination of academic dishonesty in a secondary online English education course

Kathryn Kennedy's study: The essence of the virtual school practicum: A phenomenological study of pre-service teachers' experiences in a virtual school

Alotaibi's study: The experiences of young women taking online high school courses: Implications for teenage mothers

Podcast by Beth Miller, University Partnerships Coordinator at Florida Virtual School
Preparing teachers for online learning - Challenges, benefits, and how it's done at FLVS

Contributed by:
Karen Ross
Florida Virtual School
Communication Specialist

Research into online teaching using groups by Dr. Susan Lowes

Lessons Learned from 10 years of Research

Group Work in Asynchronous Online Courses

Approaches to Group Work in an Online Course

Contributed by:
Dr. Susan Lowes
Director, Research and Evaluation
Institute for Learning Technologies
Teachers College/Columbia University

Learner-centered e-teaching series - Volume 1 & 2

Individual and Developmental Differences


Rural students talk about learning French online

Learner-centered e-teaching & motivation (Part 1)

E-teaching French as a second language

Learner-centered e-teaching:Part 1

Learning-centered e-teaching: Part 2

Contributed by:
Dr. Elizabeth Murphy
Professor, Faculty of Education
Memorial University
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Future of K-12 Online Education

Video contributed by:
Heather O'Mara
Hope Online Learning Academy

K-12 online/blended professional development of in-service educators: University of West Georgia's evolving model

Contributed by Dr. Jason Huett and Kim Huett
University of West Georgia

A Closer Look at Cyber Charter Schools

Contributed by Dr. Alison Carr-Chellman
Professor of Education
Department Head, Learning and Performance Systems

Studying the preparation of preservice teachers for K-12 online teachers

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (2012). Design and development of field experiences in K-12 online learning environments. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 2(1), 35-49. Retrieved from

Teacher Mentoring in Virtual Schools

Wortmann, K., Cavanaugh, C., Kennedy, K., Beldarrain, Y., Letourneau, T., & Zygouris-Coe, V. (2009). Online teacher support programs: Mentoring and coaching models.

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (Eds.). (2012). Mentoring and virtual schools: Supporting teachers in K-12 online education. Vienna, VA: International Association for K-12 Online Learning. (To be published for Virtual School Symposium, October 2012)

Contributed by:
Dr. Kathryn Kennedy
Assistant Professor
Instructional Technology
Georgia Southern University

Iowa Learning Online Case Studies

Michigan Online Teaching Case Studies

Contributed by:
Dr. Michael Barbour
Assistant Professor, Instructional Technology
Wayne State University


Archambault, L.M. (2011). The practitioner’s perspective on teacher education: Preparing for the K-12 online classroom. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 19(1), 73-91.

Barbour, M. K., Wenmoth, D. & Davis, N.E. (2011). Summary Report in relation to the Virtual Learning Network. Primary and Secondary e-Learning: Examining the Process of Achieving Maturity. Retrieved December 21, 2011 from

Brennan, R. (2003). One size doesn't fit all: Pedagogy in the online environment. Kensington Park, Australia: National Centre for Vocation Education Research, Australian National Training Authority.

Charania, A. (2009). Are preservice teachers ready for virtual schooling? Unpublished PhD dissertation. Ames, IA: Iowa State University.

Compton, L., & Davis, N. (2010). The impact of and key elements for a successful virtual early field experience. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(3). Retrieved from

Dabner, N., Davis, N., & Zaka, P. (2012). Authentic project-based design of professional development for teachers studying online and blended teaching. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 12(1). Retrieved from

Davis, N. E., & Niederhauser, D. S. (2007, May). New roles and responsibilities for distance education in K-12 education. Learning and Leading, 34(7), 10-15.

Davis, N.E. & Niederhauser, D.S. (2005). Socio-cultural analysis of two cases of distance learning in secondary education. Education and Information Technologies, 10(3), 249-262.

Davis, N.E., Roblyer, M.D., Charania, A., Harms, C., Ferdig, R., Compton, L. & Cho, M.O. (2007). Illustrating the “Virtual” in Virtual Schooling: Challenges and Strategies for Creating Real Tools to Prepare Virtual Teachers. The Internet in Higher Education, 10(1), 27-39.

Davis, N. E., & Rose, R. (2007). Professional development for virtual schooling and online learning. International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from

DiPietro, M., Ferdig, R. E., Black, E. W., & Preston, M. (2008). Best practices in teaching K-12 online: Lessons learned from Michigan Virtual School teachers. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 7(1), 10-35.

Fuller, D., Norby, R. Pearce, K. & Strand, S. (2000). Internet teaching by style: Profiling the on-line professor. Educational Technology & Society, 3(2). Retrieved September 14, 2009 from

Harms, C. M., Niederhauser, D. S., Davis, N. E., Roblyer, M. D., & Gilbert, S. B. (2006). Educating educators for virtual schooling: Communicating roles and responsibilities. Electronic Journal of Communication, 16(1-2).

International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). (2011). National Standards for Quality Online Courses. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from

International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). (2011). National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from

Kearsley, G., & Blomeyer, R. (2004). Preparing teachers to teach online. Educational Technology, 44(1), p. 49-52.

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (2012). Design and development of field experiences in K-12 online learning environments. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 2(1), 35-49. Retrieved from

International Association for K-12 Online Learning. (2011, 2008). National Standards for Quality Online Courses. Retrieved from

International Association for K-12 Online Learning. (2011, 2008). National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. Retrieved from

National Education Association. (2006). NEA Guide to Teaching Online Courses. Retrieved August 6, 2009, from

Quality Matters Rubric Standards 2011 – 2013 edition with Assigned Point Values. (2011). Retrieved from

Southern Regional Education Board. (2009). Guidelines for Professional Development of Online Teachers. Retrieved from

Southern Regional Education Board. (2006). Standards for Quality Online Courses. Retrieved from

Southern Regional Educational Board. (2006). Standards for Quality Online Teaching. Retrieved from

Special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education.

Stevens, K. (2010). The distribution of instructional leadership in elearning clusters: an ecological perspective. Unpublished Masters thesis. Canterbury: University of Canterbury.

Watson, J., Murin, A., Vashaw, L., Gemin, B., & Rapp, C. (2011). Keeping Pace with K–12 Online Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice. Evergreen, CO: Evergreen Education Group.

Yamashiro, K., & Zucker, A. (1999). An Expert Panel Review of the Quality of Virtual High School Courses: Final Report. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.