Evaluating Student Success in Online Programs

DETA to fund research-focused grants

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After 15+ years in the higher ed market, online learning has entered a new stage of maturity: one that has given rise to rigorous studies on both effective course and institutional practices. And although the concept of remote education is hardly new, technologies are swiftly evolving, as are academic policies and teaching methods.

Studying the impact of these factors has been the core focus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's National Research Center for Distance Education and Technology Advancements (DETA) Research Center.

Now, through its latest grant program, DETA seeks to fund partners across the U.S. They're specifically looking for those interested in using their research toolkit as a means to gather data to better understand key factors in distance education courses and programs that are impacting student success. (Note: the deadline closed on November 13, 2015.)

At the helm of these efforts is Tanya Joosten, director of eLearning Research and Development in Academic Affairs.

Joosten emphasized her team's enthusiasm for conducting research across a variety of institutions—and that by using designs and instrumentation that not only ensure processes are effective, but work for all students—they're also supporting underrepresented groups.

"We're very excited to already have such interest in the research toolkit, with hundreds of downloads across 40 states and several countries," she said.

"Institutions across the country can access the tools needed to design and conduct rigorous research in distance education, including blended, online, and competency-based education—and this toolkit offers an excellent way to kickstart that research."

The subgrant DETA Research awards will be announced in December. All institutions are invited to conduct research using the DETA Research Toolkits, not just those receiving subgrant awards. DETA is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, FIPSE.

Kristi DePaul, Marketing Manager, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative and Next Generation Learning Challenges