March 31, 2022
The Coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked the world of online learning. The sudden shift of students to remote instruction demonstrated the power and potential of online education. Diane Litman and a panel of researchers came together to identify barriers to and potential solutions for delivering high-quality and equitable online and remote education.
Main takeaways from this research are:
- Future technological developments in education must include diverse, interdisciplinary approaches to succeed.
- All people involved in online education, such as teachers, students, and families, must be actively involved in the improvement process.
The Coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked the world of online learning when more than a billion students suddenly found themselves unable to attend their brick-and-mortar schools. The sudden shift of students to remote instruction demonstrated the power and potential of online education, but it also highlighted the need for improvement.
To address this need, a panel of researchers was convened from the intersecting fields of educational technology and online education and represented industry, academia, and public schools. The panel was tasked with identifying barriers to and potential solutions for delivering high-quality and equitable online and remote education. Diane Litman, Professor, School of Computing and Information, was an invited member of the panel.
A virtual workshop was conducted in the fall of 2020. Analysis of the discussion notes provided by the members of the expert panel revealed (a) three cross-cutting themes that run throughout all aspects of issues in online education and (b) six accelerated topics that must be addressed for online education and educational technology to have sustained and meaning impact.
Three major themes included:
- Developments in online education will remain of limited value if the goal is to merely substitute in-person instruction,
- Issues of equity and justice permeate all aspects of online education and educational technology,
- Improving online education requires better integration and evaluation of technological advances in areas of computer science.
The six accelerated topics are:
- Integration of the science of learning into online education
- Educational technology for all
- Consideration of human factors
- Expanding educational technology across the curriculum
- Supporting social emotional learning and self-regulated learning
- Increasing data sharing and collaboration
In order to make educational technologies more efficient, effective, and equitable, the researchers found that these themes and accelerated topics must be considered in any research and development task for improving online education. From this work, the panel members proposed a Collaborative Framework for Accelerating Online Education.
One main takeaway from this report and framework is that future technological developments in education must include diverse, interdisciplinary approaches to succeed and to provide both online students and educators the best, most efficient learning experience possible. In addition, another takeaway is that all people involved in online education, such as teachers, students, and families, must be actively involved in the improvement process to avoid being passive consumers and to keep students excited, engaged, and optimally learning.
The framework offers a "starting point" for those in educational technology to engage in increasingly interdisciplinary work that stands to make more rapid and meaningful impacts on a broader range of learners.
McCarthy, K. S., Crossley, S. A., Meyers, K., Boser, U., Allen, L. K., Chaudhri, V. K., Collins-Thompson, K., D'Mello, S., Choudhury, M. D., Garg, K., Goel, A., Gosha, K., Heffernan, N., Hooper, M. A., Hyman, E., Jarratt, D. C., Khalil, D., Kizilcec, R. F., Litman, D*., ... Zampieri, M. (2022). Toward more effective and equitable learning: Identifying barriers and solutions for the future of online education. Technology, Mind, and Behavior