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1 DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF AN E LEARNING GUIDE FOR THE RELUCTANT HOMESCHOOLING PARENT By MINNIE OGBURN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Minnie Ogburn
3 To Brandy, whose support never waivers
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I want to thank those who guided and encouraged me in this endeavor. First, I thank my cohort at the University of Florida. I so enjoyed and appreciated your collegiality along this journey. I especially thank Jeannie Justice, Jessica S wanson, and Mary Risner for their input and advice on my work. Next, I thank my committee, Dr. Ana Puig, Dr. Erik Black, and Dr. Albert Ritzhaupt for their time and extensive guidance. I thank my advisor, Dr. Swapna Kumar, for her compassion, direction, a nd support. I thank Brandy Carvalho, Lauren Williams, and Priscilla Clark for managing the office to allow me more time for this work. To my husband, Charles, thank you for your sacrifices during this time. I am grateful to all of you.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ........................... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 13 The Reluctant Homeschooling Parent ................................ ................................ .... 13 Homeschooling in the United States ................................ ................................ ....... 14 Approaches to Homeschooling A Brief Overview ................................ ................ 15 Professional Context: The Ogburn School ................................ ............................. 18 Challenges to Homeschooling with Reluctant Parents ................................ ........... 20 Problem Identification ................................ ................................ ............................. 21 Proposed Solution ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 22 Identifying Re luctant Homeschooling Parents in the Ogburn School ...................... 23 Research Question ................................ ................................ ................................ 24 Significance of the Research ................................ ................................ .................. 24 Subj ectivity Statement ................................ ................................ ............................ 25 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 29 Modern Homeschooling ................................ ................................ .......................... 29 Definition o f Homeschooling ................................ ................................ ............. 29 The Current Homeschooling Movement Evolution ................................ ........... 30 Homeschooling Regulation ................................ ................................ ............... 31 Who Is Homeschooling? ................................ ................................ ......................... 32 Homeschool ing Issues ................................ ................................ ............................ 33 Citizenship and Homeschoolers ................................ ................................ ....... 33 Socialization and Homeschoolers ................................ ................................ .... 34 Academic Achievement of Homeschoolers ................................ ...................... 34 Public School to Homeschooling Relationships ................................ ................ 35 Global Perspectives on Homeschooling ................................ ................................ 36 Virtual Schools and the Emergence of Online Learning ................................ ......... 37 Virtual School Categories ................................ ................................ ................. 38 Virtual School Benefits ................................ ................................ ..................... 38 Virtual School Challenges ................................ ................................ ................ 38 Technology and the Homeschool Parent ................................ ................................ 40
6 Parental Involvement in Online Schooling ................................ .............................. 42 Parental Influence on Students ................................ ................................ ........ 43 Motivation of Parental Involvement ................................ ................................ .. 43 Parental Involvement Roles ................................ ................................ .............. 44 Summary of the Reviewed Research ................................ ................................ ...... 45 3 E LEARNING GUIDE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION ................................ ...... 48 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 48 Adult Learning Theory and Implementation ................................ ............................ 48 Student Retention in Online Learning Principles and Implementation Strategies ... 50 Systemic Lesson Design and Implementation ................................ ........................ 51 Design Based Research (DBR) ................................ ................................ .............. 53 Design Based Research Implementation ................................ ............................... 53 Implementation of the E learning Guide ................................ ................................ 57 4 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 64 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 64 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 65 Technology Skill s Survey ................................ ................................ ................. 65 Participant Interview ................................ ................................ ......................... 65 Parental Use of the E learning Guide ................................ ............................... 67 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 67 Pre and Post Surveys ................................ ................................ ..................... 67 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 67 Perceived Challenges ................................ ................................ ............................. 68 Validity ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 69 Limitations of the Data ................................ ................................ ............................ 69 5 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 72 Sample ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 72 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 73 Summary of the Pre and Post Technology Skills Survey Results .................. 73 Learning Guide ................................ ........................ 76 Applications ................................ ................................ ................................ 77 Information ................................ ................................ ................................ 78 Collaboration ................................ ................................ .............................. 79 Experience ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 80 What Participants Liked About the E learning Guide ................................ ........ 80 What participants disliked about the e learning guide ................................ ...... 81 Technology Skills ................................ ................................ ............................. 81 Would Particip ants Recommend the E learning Guide? ................................ .. 82 Interview Data Summary ................................ ................................ .................. 82 Participant Activity Logs ................................ ................................ ................... 83 Resear cher Log ................................ ................................ ................................ 85
7 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ....... 93 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 93 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 94 Discussion of the Results ................................ ................................ ........................ 95 ................................ .................. 96 ................................ .............................. 97 Parental Involvement in the Ogburn School ................................ ..................... 97 Discussion of the Results Summary ................................ ............................... 100 Changes for Future Design and Use of the E learning Guide at the Ogburn School ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 100 Revision of the E Learning Guide ................................ ................................ ... 101 Student Participation ................................ ................................ ...................... 101 Relevance of Technology Skills ................................ ................................ ...... 102 Discussion Forums ................................ ................................ ......................... 103 Optional Resou rces ................................ ................................ ........................ 103 Format of the E learning Guide ................................ ................................ ...... 104 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 105 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 106 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .... 106 Implications for Virtual School Practice ................................ .......................... 107 Implications for the Ogburn School ................................ ................................ 109 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 111 APPENDIX A INITIAL PARENT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................ ....................... 112 B HELP DESK REQUESTS ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ .. 113 C TECHNOLOGY SKILLS PRE AND POST SURVEY ................................ ........... 114 D END OF COURSE INTERVIEW ................................ ................................ ........... 116 E PARE NT FEEDBACK ON END OF COURSE INTERVIEW ................................ 117 F TECHNOLOGY SKILLS SURVEY PRE AND POST SCORES COMPARISON 118 G INTERVIEW CODES ................................ ................................ ............................ 121 H REFLEC TIVE JOURNAL SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ...... 123 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 125 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 145
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Ogburn School Demographics ................................ ................................ ............ 28 2 1 Virtual School Categories ................................ ................................ ................... 47 5 1 Participant Demographics ................................ ................................ .................. 87 5 2 Pre and Post Survey Data Comparison (Results are reported as a percentage of the sample) ................................ ................................ .................. 88 5 3 Pre and Post Survey Means Results n=32 ................................ ...................... 89 5 4 Parent feedback on e learning guide ................................ ................................ .. 90 5 5 Participant Activity Log ................................ ................................ ....................... 91 5 6 Participant Activity Log Correlation to Pre and Post Survey Statistical Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 92
9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 .......................... 59 3 2 E Learning Guide Design Iterations ................................ ................................ .... 60 3 3 Home Screen ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 61 3 4 Information Literacy. ................................ ................................ ........................... 62 3 5 Discussion Forum ................................ ................................ ............................... 63
10 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S ACTE A SSOCIATION FOR C AREER AND T ECHNICAL E DUCATION CITA C OMMISSION ON I NTERNATIONAL AND T RANSREGIONAL A CCREDITATION DBR D ESIGN B ASED R ESEARCH FLVS F LORIDA V IRTUAL S CHOOL GED G ENERAL E DUCATION D EVELOPMENT HSLDA H OME S CHOOL L EGAL D EFENSE A SSOCIATION ISD I NDEPENDENT S CHOOL D ISTRICT NASA N ATIONAL A ERONAUTICAL AND S PACE A DMINISTRATION NCAA N ATIONAL C OLLEGIATE A THLETIC A SSOCIATION NCES N ATIONAL C ENTER FOR E DUCATION S TATISTICS NCLB N O C HILD L EFT B EHIND NCREL N ORTH C ENTRAL R EGIONAL E DUCATION L ABORATORY NGSSS N E XT G ENERATION S UNSHINE S TATE S TANDARDS NHES N ATIONAL H OUSEHOLD E DUCATION S URVEYS PC P ERSONAL C OMPUTER PHD D OCTOR OF P HILOSOPHY RTF R ICH T EXT F ORMAT SEVIS S TUDENT AND E XCHANGE V ISITOR I NFORMATION S YSTEM SLD S PECIFIC L EARNING D ISABILITY STATA S TATISTICAL A NA LYSIS AND D ATA S OFTWARE TAKS T EXAS A SSESSMENT OF K NOWLEDGE AND S KILLS TPSA T ECHNOLOGY P ROFICIENCY S ELF A SSESSMENT US U NITED S TATES
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillme nt of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF AN E LEARNING GUIDE FOR THE RELUCTANT HOMESCHOOLING PARENT By Minnie Ogburn December 2013 Chair: Swapna Kumar Major: Curriculum and Instruction This research attempts to answer the question: How does the use of an e learning guide that emphasizes the use of relevant web based technology resources affect the 6 th 8 th grade virtual homeschool environment? The reluctant homeschooling parent is one who is uncomfortable with the responsibility of teaching his/her child at home and may not be skilled in instructional strategies. Appropriate technology skills are required of students wh o move out of the homeschool environment to public or private world applications, synthesis, and transfer rarely exclude technology. Therefore, parents may need additional guidance on utilizing computer tech nology when teaching their child in a homeschool environment. In this study, e learning guidelines and resources that emphasize knowledge of the Internet and relevant technology issues were provided to parents of 6 th 8 th grade students enrolled in the Ogbu rn School, a private distance education school. The technology skills pre and post survey was taken by parents, and these scores showed an increase in the mean response for eight of the nine skills, with a significant difference in five of the nine skill
12 participants learned more about using computer applications and collaborating with other homeschool families. Eighty three percent of the participants stated they would recommend the e learning guide to other homeschooling parents. The e learning guide will be improved by analyzing the survey and interview data to incorporate participant suggestions, such as including students in grades K 8 in the e learning guide activities, reviewing the current skil ls for relevancy and identifying and adding new skills designed
13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Homeschooling, homeschool, home based learning, school at home, and home education are synonymous terms referring to the practice of educating children outside of any formal public or private education system (Lines, 1999; Ray, 2006). Parents provide vario us reasons for their decision to homeschool their children, including higher academic test scores, an often perceived dangerous public school environment, religious beliefs, character and moral development, the expense of private education tuition and obje ctions to local curriculum (Collom, 2005; Isenberg, 2007; NCES, 2003). Homeschooling is also an alternative for families living in isolated rural locations or living abroad who wish to maintain an American connection to school (Bielick, Chandler & Brougham 2001). Often the parents serve as the teacher/facilitator; however, tutors are introduced when needs arise. Some school districts allow students to enroll in public school on a part time basis or participate in part time public school enrollment or in ex tra curricular activities (Waggoner, 2005). This chapter provides an introduction to the reluctant homeschooling parent, a brief history of homeschooling in the United States, background on the Ogburn School, and a description of the research and its expec ted benefits. The Reluctant Homeschooling Parent Parents or grandparents may choose to homeschool their children due to personal choice; however, there are also those who make the decision to homeschool due to extenuating circumstances. The latter parent is known as a reluctant homeschooler, which is an informal term for those who homeschool against their personal preferences (Bell, 2001; Yallop, 2012). A term synonymous with reluctant homeschooler is
14 accidental homeschoolers (Dobson, 2009). Edelson and Arnold (2009) define reluctant or accidental homesch oolers as those parents who, for one reason or another, are dissatisfied with the local or traditional school options and decide to homeschool. Using this definition it is reasonable to assume that for some parents, homeschooling began as a solution to a p roblem rather than a philosophical or lifestyle choice. Examples of extenuating circumstances might be multiple discipline referrals or suspensions for a student, a student being over age for his/her grade placement with no options for acceleration, or a s tudent having health issues that prevent school attendance (Isenberg, 2007). Given a choice, some parents may prefer a traditional (Basham, 2001). Families who are frequent t ravelers or live in remote areas or internationally may find that access to a public or American school is limited (Burns, 2012; Colfax & Colfax, 2009; Swartz, 2013) Parents may opt out of public education due to the condition of the local public schools, or a public school may not be able to (Connelly, 2012; Dyer, 2013; Geise, 2012; Swett, 2013). A reluctant homeschooler may soon learn that homeschooling is harder than originally conceived (Barnes, 2012; Castro, 2009; Knope, 2009; Mills, 2013; St. John, 2012). This research examines the design, implementation, and evaluation of an e learning guide for reluctant homeschooling parents that is intended to increase their perceived effectiveness and use of technology in a home school environment. Homeschooling in the United States education took place within the family or community setting (Baines & Foster, 2006).
15 Massachusetts p assed the first school compulsory attendance law in 1852; by 1916 all but two states had such laws in place (Duckworth, 1992). In the United States, homeschooling is now a legal option in all 50 states, but each state designs its own restrictions (McKeon, 2007). Data from the 1999 National Home Education Survey (NHES) showed an estimated 850,000 homeschooled students in the United States about 1.7 percent of the school age population (Bielick, Chandler & Broughman, 2001). By 2000, the estimated number of ho meschool children in the United States reached nearly two million (Lines, 2000). Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates the percentage of the school age population that was homeschooled increased from 2.2 percent in 2003 to 2.9 percent in 2007 (NCES, 2008). Data from the 2007 NHES shows an estimated 1.5 million students (1,508,000) were homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2007. This represents an increase from the estimated 1.1 million students who were homesc hooled in the spring of 2003 (Princiotta, Bielick & Chapman 2004). Data collection for 2012 is now underway (NHES, 2012). Information on homeschoolers is difficult to collect because of the challenges of identifying homeschoolers, reporting procedures and data collection (Mayberry, Knowles, & Marlow, 1995; Sockza, 2007). For the purposes of this research, the term homeschooling refers to homeschooling in America for grades Kindergarten through 12. Approaches to Homeschooling A Brief Overview Homeschool p arents decide on what methods they will use to teach their children. Their approach may be formal, informal, or a combination of both. This section reviews some of the methods most recognized by homeschoolers. ican educator John Holt, who was disenchanted with formal education America (Holt, 1983). Holt did not achieve extensive
16 reform in American education, so he championed an approach without a specific curriculum (Taylor Hough, 2010). Using this strategy allo ws parents to develop their teaching curriculum around the outcomes they want their child to achieve. For example, if a child is interested in environmental issues, parents could teach academic content through readings and environmental activities. A combi nation of academic study, manual work, and either home or community service (Lyman, 2000) is attributed to Raymond and Dorothy Moore, a husband and wife team of educators and homeschooling parents. The Moores developed what is recognized as the Moore Formu la, which is a combination of academic study, manual work, and either home or community service (Lyman, 2000). The Moore Formula is based on the premise that students are not generally ready for structured academic instruction until eight to ten years of a relates to the amount of daily academic study that a child can absorb (DeGrow, 2008).This approach may be useful for the homeschooling parent who bridges academic study with a work life and community or vo lunteer service. The Classical Approach, or Classical Education, addresses three mental capacities: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (Calhoun, 1999). Classical Education is based on the Trivium, which consists of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric (Har t, 2004). Bauer (2012) explains Classical Education in three stages. The first stage is early years spent learning foundational skills such as grammar. Next is the increase state, rhetoric, begins in high school as students begin expressing conclusions in well
17 written language. Classical education is language based rather than based on pictures, videos or television. The Charlotte Mason method is centered on the idea that e ducation is three pronged: atmosphere, discipline, and life. Life itself is considered the academic component (Levison, 2000). This method is considered a more hands on approach because students write, draw, narrate, and experiment with the concepts in th e reading of the text (Berg, 2009). School at Home, also known as The Traditional Homeschooling Method, follows the structured principles of traditional school with the parent as teacher using textbooks or other scholarly resources and creating a regimen for students. This method closely mirrors the traditional public school experience. Proponents theorize the benefit of this method is that if the student returns to public school the transition may be easier (Taylor, 1997; Taylor Hough, 2010). The Eclectic approach follows the premise that there is no one right approach and there is a mixture of all philosophies using a variety of resources and teaching tools (McKeon, 2007). This theory promotes individual instruction based on the unique needs and differenc es of each child. Parents may choose the Traditional approach for mathematics, the Charlotte Mason approach for literature and social studies, the Unschooling approach for science, all while embracing the Moore Formula of integrating study, work and servi Another option for homeschooling education is the use of an established umbrella school, which is a third party organization which keeps records for parents and may issue transcripts or diplomas. This is a form of al ternative education which monitors the
18 homeschool student to make certain government requirements are met. The umbrella school may or may not provide the curriculum while the parents serve as the primary teacher. Requirements for umbrella schools vary from state to state, and the services range from meeting only minimal legal requirements to a broad o ffering of curriculum, field trips, sports and standardized tests (McKeon, 2007). hool, homeschool or umbrella school (Green & Hoover Dempsey, 2007). If the choice is made to homeschool, they have may need additional guidance in designing their homeschool curriculum. Parents can independently create their own curriculum, they may purcha se complete packages, or they may find compromise between the two (Holt & Farenga, 2003). The philosophical approaches described here are the most common approaches used in the homeschool communities (Holt & Farenga, 2003; Knowles, 1998). Professional Cont ext: The Ogburn School The Ogburn School, Inc. is a private virtual school located in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Founded in 1997 as a correspondence school for students seeking an educational alternative, the school first achieved accreditation from the Co mmission on International and Transregional Association (CITA) and co accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 2005. In 2009, Advanc Ed d under AdvancEd and SACS. The Ogburn School serves grades 6 12, with grades K 5 advanced degrees and 20% with 4 year degrees. Sixty percent also hold Florida Professiona l Educators Certificates. Core courses in the school have been approved by
19 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Since 1997 over 3000 students have been served by the school. The student demographics as of June 30th, 2012 are reported in Tab le 1 1. Graduates of the Ogburn School may continue their education at the postsecondary level th rough public or private colleges or the military. Some graduates earn their diploma to increase their credentials in the workplace; others have earned their di ploma for personal satisfaction. Students are able to earn credits for transfer to their base school to assist in placing students in the appropriate grade level. Parents choosing the Ogburn School are enrolling their children in a program that provides a specific grade level curriculum aligned to the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) with specific outcome requirements. The Ogburn School teaching methods most closely align with the Eclectic Approach (McKeon, 2007). Because the parent s are partners in facilitating the learning, they are called Learning Coaches. Parents (Learning Coaches) may set a schedule for a student that early can study in the af ternoon. Field trips may be taken on the weekend when all family members can engage with the student. Students have the opportunity to participate in asynchronous and synchronous discussions through discussion boards, Skype, teleconference, e mail and soc ial networking. A mix of strategies and activities for students that includes school directed, Learning Coach facilitated, and independent learning tasks are segments of the curriculum. A definition of blended learning systems combines face to face instruc tion with computer mediated instruction (Graham, 2006). In the middle grades, students become
20 more independent and self directed learners but still require direction and monitoring. This mix of online, at home, directed, and independent study, considered a form of blended learning, complements this independence and self direction. Blended learning has many forms, but is considered to be the merging of online and face to face teaching that combines face to face instruction with distance learning techniques using a variety Nathan & Barrett, 2004; Koohang, Behling & Behling, 2008). Educators and researchers from all disciplines try to determine the best practices and fea tures of online and face to face learning and which type is appropriate in which settings (Chen & Looi, 2007). In the case of the Ogburn students, the blended learning approach includes online instructors as facilitators and the parents as a Learning Coach with online experiences and self directed off line learning activities. A goal of the e learning guide is to help parents identify and use appropriate technologies for homeschool teaching in their role as the learning Coach. Challenges to Homeschooling with Reluctant Parents Homeschooling parents may lack formal teaching skills, be unable to choose appropriate curriculum, possibly lack academic skills themselves, and generally be unprepared to meet the challenges of providing instruction (Ensign, 1997). Weberg (2012) states that parents may not possess technology skills more advanced than sending and receiving e mail or conducting basic Internet searches. Although we are in a technology driven era, the reluctant homeschooling parent may need additional as sistance in identifying technology resources that are both useful and user friendly. Appropriate technology skills are required of students who move out of the homeschool world
21 ap plications, synthesis and transfer rarely exclude technology (Evans, 2002). The Ogburn School provides support for parents as well as their children during their enrollment in an established distance education school. Problem Identification The e learning guide was designed by the researcher in response to an identified problem in the Ogburn School, which were the numerous helpdesk requests for technology assistance. After analyzing the helpdesks requests over a period of one year, the e lear ning guide was developed as a tool to assist parents with learning how to use the course technology. The first effort at technology assistance for parents was created in the spring of 2010 as a resource for parents in print format and was included in the student welcome kit. The use of the guide was neither monitored nor measured. In the fall of 2011, after reflection on providing the guide only as a print resource, the guide was provided as an online document in the resources available in each course. In tracking the access logs in the learning management system, it was noted that the e learning guide was accessed during the orientation module and rarely accessed after that module was completed. Although the 2011 end of the year surveys indicated that pare nts were aware of the information, the high number of requests for assistance from parents through the message portal, telephone calls, and e mails made it apparent that parents needed more structured technology instruction than the e learning guide provid ed as a print document available online without further interaction between the school and parents. The e learning guide was developed in response to identification of an emerging lpdesk
22 of online tracking data. An intervention plan to provide technology resources for parents was implemented over time. The plan included hard copy resources, online resources, and proposed e learning guide. A reflection on these strategies over a three month period resulted in further revisions to the intervention plan. This guide was monitored for effectiveness; immediate feedback was provided to participants and doc umented for further reflection. The value of the e learning guide was evaluated; revisions to future e learning guides will be made on a timely basis. Because of the design, implementation, and reflection processes described here, the e learning guide emer ged as a design based research project (DBR) Proposed Solution The purpose of the e enhance student engagement for 6 th 8 th grade students enrolled in the Ogburn School. The focus of this researc h is 6 th 8 th grade since middle school is sometimes referred to (Alspaugh, 1998; Catterall, 1998; Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000; Gutman & Midgley, 2000; Lord, Eccles & McCarthy, 1994; Rumberger, 1995; Wigfield, 1991; Wigfield, Eccles, MacIver, Reuman & Midgley, 1991). The technology currently used at the Ogburn School enables the student to access interactive lessons. Instruction utilizing relevant technology r esources for lessons was incorporated into an e learning guide for parents. The guide was delivered as an online learning module within the 6 th 8 th grade learning site at the Ogburn School. The guide was implemented as a component of the required orientati on process for parents of 6 th 8 th grade students who were identified as reluctant homeschool parents.
23 Identifying Reluctant Homeschooling Parents in the Ogburn School The process of identifying reluctant homeschooling parents was done through the pre enro llment interview that was held with parents. The following five questions were asked that provided details on why the parent has chosen to homeschool (Appendix A). 1. Have you homeschooled your child before? If yes: What grade level? How long? 2. Why have you decided to homeschool your child at this time? 3. How long do you plan to homeschool? 4. Has anyone recommended homeschooling to you? (e.g., family, friends, school personnel, case worker) 5. How do you expect homeschooling to benefit your chi ld? identify a reluctant homesch ooling parent. If parents chose homeschooling not as a personal preference but as a last resort because of discipline problems, poor grades, medi cal issues, lack of accommodations for special needs, bullying, or geographic location, then the parent was identified as a reluctant homeschooling parent. This identification indicated the parent might require more academic and technical support than an e xperienced homeschooling parent. The profile of a reluctant homeschooling parent in the Ogburn School is: (a) majority female, (b) inexperienced in homeschooling, (c) opted to homeschool as a last resort, and (d) does not intend to homeschool for an extend ed period of time. Additionally, the parent may not have a clear vision of how homeschooling would help their child, other than to remove them from an undesirable situation. If the parent cannot cademic skills, describe how they will provide a more desirable learning environment, or elaborate on how they will
24 address possible emotional issues, then their homeschooling vision is considered ill defined. Lack of a clear vision may indicate the parent will need more support in homeschooling his/her child. The total 6 th 8 th grade enrollment in the Ogburn School at the time of this study was 171. Using the interview criteria, 51 parents were identified as reluctant homeschoolers. Thirty two of the 51 id entified as reluctant homeschooling parents agreed to participate in this study. Research Question The goal of this research is to investigate whether the e learning guide increases research question was answered in this study: How does the use of an e learning guide that emphasizes the use of relevant web and use of technology in a 6 th 8 th grade virtual homeschool environment? Significance of the Research Compiling technology resources to facilitate learning and create application connections has the potential to improve homeschool teaching and better prepare students for transition to ot her educational and workplace settings (ACTE, 2010; Evans, 2002) Reluctant homeschooling parents may be less prepared to homeschool their child, may not be aware of the resources available to them, and may not be comfortable with the technologies used in homeschooling. These reluctant homeschoolers may need additional support in order to successfully help their children in their homeschool program. An e learning guide is integral to assist these parents because instruction and direction in using technology resources in homeschooling are provided for easy access.
25 students, to engage them in cross disciplinary learning tasks, and move their learning experiences from the more tradit ional (read, write, and assess) style of teaching and learning to a more active style (show, read, reread, write, rewrite, create, produce, analyze, assess and reflect) (Chen, 2007). The role of the parent as the first and primary teacher can be reinforced with this method (Bell, 2009). In this study, it was expected that parents would learn to use technology resources more effectively. For the school, expected benefits included gaining insight on the tasks and resources parents and students consider most v aluable. This research addressed Ogburn School. There was also the expectation that through reflection on the dialogue between the school and parent, future e learning gui des would include other grade levels. Finally, school representatives will present this research to others interested in homeschooling through association meetings, conferences and online communities. Sharing information may assist others who are researchi ng homeschooling in general, teaching homeschoolers, or providing assistance to homeschooling parents. The information base for homeschooling will increase when those who are researching and developing techniques share the information learned with others w ho share the same interests. Subjectivity Statement Before online schooling became widespread, I completed many of my high school and college courses through correspondence school. As a parent, I homeschooled both my children during their high school year s. In 1997 I co founded the Ogburn School, a
26 private distance education school. My professional training and experience from a career teaching in adult and alternative education provides me with insight into educational policies and procedures. Currently m y studies in educational technology are allowing the Ogburn School to enhance our homeschool curriculum by including new technologies. They also provide me with the opportunities to engage with others who share my interest in technologies that enhance dist ance education. This research brings together these experiences to provide intervention for parents who need assistance in homeschooling. The concept of designing and creating an e learning guide for homeschooling parents is an extension of my experiences as a homeschool student, parent, teacher, and administrator. This was a small study. Participants included parents of students enrolled in the school who agreed to participate in the data collection. Because the Ogburn School is a small institution where the faculty and students develop strong relationships, it was necessary to maintain objectivity given my role as Instructional Program Director in the Ogburn School. The design based research approach is based on conducting research in an authentic educati onal setting (Walker & Ruhe, n.d.). While there were challenges of designing and conducting my own research, my involvement did not necessarily contaminate the outcomes (Barab & Kirshner, 2001). Corbin & Strauss (2008) maintain that the researcher uses per sonal experience to bring meaning to the data. Malterud (2001) maintains that preconceptions are not the same as researcher bias unless the researcher does not acknowledge those preconceptions. I am invested in the research because I want to provide a posi tive learning experience for students and parents (Glesne, 2006).
27 judgment, wherein the researcher becomes aware of his or her personal beliefs, knowings, and understandings and sets them aside as the data is collected and evaluated. I engaged in an audit of my preconceived notions, feelings and understandings about this topic by keeping a reflective journal throughout the research process. Given my role as researcher and school director, I followed the philosophy of Patton (1987), in that instead of trying to eliminate any bias I made an effort to be fair and conscientious, acknowledging multiple perspectives and interest while working to understand the impact of my personal experiences on the data interpretation instead of trying to eliminate or ignore it. Specific strategies for avoiding researcher bias are discussed in detail in Chapter 4.
28 Table 1 1. Ogburn School Demographics Category Number (n) Percent age (%) Enrollment 568 100 Gender Male 341 60 Female 227 40 Ethnicity Caucasian 201 35 Black 147 26 Native American 19 3 Hispanic 146 26 Asian 33 6 Multi 10 2 Other 12 2 Grade level Adult 159 28 Grades 9 12 301 53 Grades 6 8 97 17 Grades K 5 11 2
29 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter explores prior research relevant to the homeschool researcher and explores the factors that exert the most influence on homeschooling. It begins with a brief history of the regulation of homeschooling and proceeds to describe the state of home schooling today, the demographics of homeschoolers, and barriers that homeschoolers may experience. Although this research is limited to homeschooling in the United States, global perspectives and trends in homeschooling are explored as is virtual schoolin g that has influenced the growth of online education since the 1990s. Finally, the literature on technology and the homeschool parent is reviewed. Modern Homeschooling Definition of Homeschooling ducation of school is sometimes preferred over homeschooling as it refers to independent, home based, parent led education (Ray, 2004). Societies have historically educat ed children at home (Gordon & Gordon, 1990; Stevens, 2001). Home schooling taught by either parent or tutors was common in North America until the 1870s, when compulsory school attendance and teacher training came together to form the institution that we n ow recognize as formal school. Home schooling continued on a limited basis after the 1870s, but it was not until the 1960s that it began to attract and interest parents and educators (Isenberg, 2007).
30 The Current Homeschooling Movement Evolution As an educ ational leader and a homeschooling proponent, John Holt called for a partnership between the schools and homeschoolers (Holt, 1983). It is interesting to note that although Holt was a leader in public school reform, when he initially began suggesting that home schooling was a viable alternative to conformist public schools his ideas were seen as slightly radical (Reich, 2002). One of the first homeschool researchers was Dr. Raymond Moore, a United States Department of Education analyst. In 1969 Moore began researching the institution of ( Basham, Merrifield, & Hepburn, 2007). His work develope d into the Moore Formula, which has become a popular homeschool teaching method (Lyman, 2000). During the early 1970s, there was increased emphasis in homeschool among two main groups; one religious and one philosophical (Guterson, 1992). Sociologists Van Galen (1991) and Stevens (2001) suggest that either religious or pedagogical preferences were the motivation behind homeschoolers. Disagree ing with that view, Anthony (2009) found that the motivation for homeschooling was varied and asserted that families made homeschool decisions based on student needs and not religion or teaching methods. Ensign (2000) found that many special education stud ents joined the ranks of the homeschooled. For students identified as having a specific learning disability (SLD), one on one tutoring can have a positive outcome. For gifted students, Caruana (1998) stated that homeschooling is the best option for providi ng the discovery learning opportunities that may be absent from public school curriculum. These
31 researchers confirm the theory that many parents based their decision to homeschool on student needs and not religion or teaching methods. Homeschooling Regulat ion According to Kunzman (2009), by 1980, home schooling was still illegal in 30 states, and although it has been legal in all 50 states since 1993, state laws related to regulation vary. Kunzman also argues that restrictive state law causes misuse of stat e resources, while the interests of children are not protected, and that states should consider a more modest approach that emphasize basic skills testing, which may be a more effective way to help homeschool students and parents. According to Cibulka (19 91), during the 1980s some school districts applied mandatory school attendance laws to homeschoolers, which prompted religious and secular homeschoolers to work together to establish legal rights for homeschooling families at the state level. In 1983, for mer Moral Majority leader Michael Farris founded a national organization, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), to provide lobbying and legal assistance to evangelical Protestant homeschoolers (Isenberg, 2007). There is debate on whether there should be regulation on homeschoolers (McMullen, 2003). Many homeschoolers objected to an amendment in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the House of Representatives in 1994 that required each full time teacher be certif ied in their subject area because they viewed this as a possible obstacle to parents as homeschool teachers (Stevens, 2001). When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act came up for reauthorization in 2001, more commonly named the No Child Left Behind A ct (NCLB), Congress banned any of its provisions from applying to homeschooling (Isenberg, 2007).
32 Who Is Homeschooling? During the late 1990s, the Department of Education estimated that home education might be growing ten times as fast as the general scho ol aged population, and some researchers also predicted that by the year 2010, the number of homeschooled children in the U.S. might number between two and three million (Lines, 1999; Ray, 2005, Ray, 2010a). This represents an increase from the estimated 1 .1 million students who were homeschooled in the spring of 2003 (Princiotta, Bielick & Chapman 2004). The National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES) reported roughly 1.1 million or about 2.2 percent of school age children in the United States were be ing educated at home as of 2003 (Princiotta, Bielick & Chapman, 2006). This aligns with the data from the 2007 NHES survey which showed an estimated 1.5 million students (1,508,000) were homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2007 (Bielick, 200 8). However, the exact number of children being homeschooled currently is debated, as the NCES (2007) reported that the total number of people who homeschool at least one child in their household has a margin of error of +/ 231,000 (NCES, 2007). The NCES data also provides some of the general characteristics of the national homeschool population. As of 2003, homeschool children were more likely to be White than Black or Hispanic, tended to live in two parent households, came from larger families (3 or more children), and live in households with an annual income of $75,000 or less (Princiotta, Bielick & Chapman, 2006). Ray (2006) states that homeschoolers represent a diverse demographic population of atheists, Christians, Mormons, conservatives, libertarians liberals, low middle and high income families, White, Black, Hispanic, parents with a Ph.D., a GED, and no high school diplomas. Research from Barwegen, Falciani, Putnam, Reamer, and Stair (2004) shows that parental
33 academic background, race, or fina ncial status does not affect the academic achievement of homeschoolers and in aggregate, they rate as high as or higher in college preparation than traditional students, indicating that the influence of an unfavorable environment on education may be revers ed under the right conditions. Although the NCES data indicates that homeschoolers are more likely to be White than Black or Hispanic and come from two parent households with an income of $75000 or less, research from Ray (2006) also shows they represent a wide variety of religious, ethnic, financial, and educational backgrounds. None of these factors seem to impact student academic achievement, indicating that a positive learning environment may have the largest impact on student learning (NCES, 2008). H omeschooling Issues This section addresses some of the perceived issues that parents may encounter in their homeschooling efforts. Citizenship and Homeschoolers Many objections to homeschooling involve concerns that homeschooled children will fail to beco me good citizens (Arai, 1999; Medlin, 2000; Ray, 2009). Yet, homeschool graduates are more likely to have participated in a protest or boycott, attended a public meeting, written or telephoned a public official or signed a petition more often than the gene homeschool, states that homeschooled students vote in far higher percentages than the rest of the population. Apple (2000) objected to any governmental support of homeschoole rs. Even so, some challenge the opposition of homeschoolers stating it is in direct conflict with the effort to expose students to constitutional values (Ross, 2010).
34 Socialization and Homeschoolers y (1994, 1997) found that a majority of homeschooled children were not usually isolated in their homes and often participated in sports, music, church, and other groups, such as scouting, outside the home. More current research from Lips and Feinberg (2008 ) indicates that most homeschool parents are aware of the issue of socialization and are strongly committed to providing positive socialization opportunities for their children outside the home with peers, children of different ages, and adults. Academic A chievement of Homeschoolers Chatmon (2006) examined the SAT scores of public schooled, private schooled and homeschooled individuals among attendees at private colleges and universities and she found that the scores of the home educated to be higher, on av erage, than those from the other two groups: however the differences were not statistically significant. This supports the research comparing the results of SAT testing between public, private, and homeschool students and concluded that homeschoolers are n ot at a disadvantage in regards to achievement testing (Belfield, 2002; Belfield 2005; Ray, 2010b). Even so, Phillips (2009) states there are studies indicating that long term homeschoolers are less likely to major in natural sciences or mathematics in col lege, meaning that additional research might be needed to determine if a learning gap exists between homeschooled and non homeschooled students, and if so, how to close the gap. Yet, many colleges do not have an admission process specific to homeschool stu dents, and although community colleges are perceived to have an open door policy, homeschoolers may have to provide additional information to gain acceptance to college (Bolle, Wessel, & Mulvihill, 2007; Sorey & Duggan, 2007). The long term implications of homeschooling
35 on students in college programs should be studied as the homeschool population increases (McKeon, 2007). Public School to Homeschooling Relationships Homeschooling families may be exempt from state curriculum requirements due to religious be liefs or the lenient homeschooling regulations of that state. Yuracko (2008) asserts that government has a responsibility to ensure that students are provided at least a minimum basic education. In his School Reform speech, Bill Clinton stated that if home schooling parents cannot prove their students are learning on a regular basis then the student must attend a parochial, private, or public school (Lyman, 2000). This indicates that homeschool parents must deal with the limits on their on their educational choices. Research from Fager and Brewster (2000) indicates that public perceptions may be changing as more participatory opportunities, such as taking part time classes or joining extra curricular activities, are provided by public school districts. Parents and sch ool districts are moving away from prohibiting homeschool students from participating in public school activities (Grob,1999) toward partnerships that allow for the homeschooler to receive services from the public school district (Angelis, 2008). There is the belief held by some rural public school districts with geographic barriers to school attendance that teachers have a responsibility to teach all children, even those in homeschool (Pearson, 2002). Homeschooling parents now enjoy a wide variety of curr iculum to choose from, including religious, secular, online sources, virtual labs, and resources from scientific organizations such as National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), (Dumas, Gates & Schwarzer, 2010). In the late 1990s, the trend was leaning toward the
36 public schools making available a wide variety of services that homeschool parents could choose for their individual needs and desires (Brandt, 1997). In some districts, parents now have options for homeschooling that include, but are n ot limited to, purchasing curriculum, joining an association, or enrolling in a public or private virtual school or allowing students to participate in some public school activities, including athletics (Lips & Feinberg, 2008). Indications are that homesch ooling will continue to increase, partially due to the changing perceptions of homeschool education and perhaps due to the variety of options available to homeschooling parents (Farook, 2009). As homeschooling increases in the U.S., its potential to reshap e current education trends is probable (Bauman, 2005). Global Perspectives on Homeschooling Although this research study focused on homeschooling in the United States, policies on homeschooling in other countries are briefly reviewed to determine any simil arities and the possible impact upon homeschooling. Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands and Japan are countries which report home schooling, and the United States and Australia are two of the primary governments that promote home education (Varnham, 2008). In Australia, as early as the 1990s, factors that include distance, isolation, economic difficulties and the desire to avoid external influences made homeschooling an alternative for many hooling population is also rising and becoming more acceptable as the public school districts recognize home education as a viable option (Horsburgh, 2005). A New Zealand study by Leo Roache (2009) suggests that the reasons for homeschooling are similar to those in the U.S., which are control
37 over curriculum and strengthening the family unit. The United Kingdom has provided exemption from compulsory school attendance since the Education Act of 1944 (Roache, 2009). Kostelecka (2010) states the post communist countries of Europe have little research on homeschooling partially because it is a relatively new practice in those countries. Internationally, homeschooling is becoming recognized as a legitimate option for students who do not function well within the constraints of public schooling (Stroobant, 2006). Lacy and Dolnick (2010) state that reasons for homeschooling are broadly categorized into two types: ideological (parents can provide a better moral environment that improves the quality of their children provide an education that recognizes individual learning needs). One of the motivations for home schooling was to infuse environmental learning without the restrictions of school timetables so that children could acquire knowledge of the natural and physical world (Murphy, 2000). It is interesting to note that there has been no link between the 2008). The reasons for homeschooling seem to be similar everywhere as parents take responsibility to educate their children outside the public school (Beck, 2008). Virtual Schools and the Emergence of Online Learning Although Canadian virtual schools were first referenced in the literature, the United States has led the growth of virtual schooling (Barbour, 2007; Cavanaugh, et al., 2006). The Virtual High School (VHS) and Florida Virtual School (FLVS) were established in 1997 (Pape, Adams & Ribeiro, 2005). The relatively new expansion of virtual schools includes all schools that are managed by government sponsored, parochial and proprietary organizations.
38 Virtual School Categories Cavanaugh (2010) broadly classifies vi rtual schools into the following six categories as illustrated in Table 2 1. The Ogburn School falls into the last category of virtual schools because it is a both private and proprietary. Virtual School Benefits Virtual schools provide an additional educa tional choice for students and parents. This extends to the homeschool population, particularly in high school, when a parent might need additional support in content area courses (Berge & Clark, 2005). A wider selection of courses, such as Advanced Placem ent courses, may also be offered online private, secondary and post secondary schools are offering diploma, certificate, or degree programs either partially or completely on line. For example, Florida Virtual School (FLVS) now offers a diploma option through Florida Virtual Full Time beginning with the class of 2013 ( Florida Virtual School Full Time and Connections Academy, 2011 age the expansion of online schooling. These include the development of an online learning policy, teacher professional development standards, extended school days through online courses, expanded course offerings, and stronger oversight of virtual schools (Evergreen Education Group, 2010). Virtual School Challenges Berge and Clark (2005) listed five challenges facing virtual schools: 1. The high cost of developing the course content. Creating the curriculum is time intensive. Purchasing the content from a pr ovider is costly and may not completely address the standards.
39 2. All students may not have access to a computer or the Internet outside of the brick and mortar school campus. 3. Regional accreditation has been as issue, but in recent years the accreditation o rganizations have developed standards targeting distance education and virtual schools. 4. Student readiness 4. Student retention rates The last two challenges seem to be linked, in that students who are not prepared to successfully complete online coursewor k are the first to withdraw, thus increasing the withdrawal rate and reducing the retention rate. A study by Hara and Kling (2001), which holds true today, indicated that student distress relating to the teacher communication and feedback was a major fact or in student withdrawal. Early research from the North Central Regional Education Laboratory (Blomeyer, 2002) identified two of the priorities for online teaching and learning as professional development and constructivist teaching practice. Because cyber school (virtual charter school) regulations vary from state to state, there are recommendations that regulation be more consistent and address some of the issues of cheating, outsourced tutors, certified teachers, funding and accreditation (Glass, 2010; G lass & Welner, 2011). communication between home and school ( Ed Tech Action Network, n.d.). This is not exclusive to parents of students in traditional schools, as parents of students enrolled in virtual schools, either public or private, should be familiar with the technology needed in the courses so they are able to monitor student progress and assist when necessary.
40 Technology and the Homeschool Parent The expansion of the Internet energized homeschooling in the mid 1990s, providing convenient delivery of homeschooling materials and increasing collaboration by connecting homeschooling families (Stevens, 2001). The Internet has helped the development of social connections and pedagogi cal resources of home schooling families ( Basham, Merrifield & Hepburn, 2007). The Internet has made it possible for homeschoolers to connect across great distances through social media, which opens the doors to other resources (Steinmeier & Yoon, 2010). There is research that suggests a connection between the expansion of the Internet, advanced communication technologies, and the increase in homeschooling (Anderson & Rainie, 2008; Huerta & Gonzalez, 2004; Panettieri, 2006; Princiotta, Bielick & Chapman, 2 006; Ray, 1997; Stevens, 2001; Wriston, 1992). However, Andrade (2008) suggests that although parents may have found more information on homeschooling through the Internet, available technology was not a factor in their decision to homeschool. According to Fitzgerald, Ostrom, RiCharde and Velasco (2006), distance learning services to homeschoolers are not well established, and delivery options may range from postal methods to a personal computer (PC) with interactive software. While the public library might be the most commonly available resource for homeschooling families, targeting library services specifically to homeschoolers may be difficult as homeschoolers can be hard to locate and identify (McCarthy & Andersen, 2007). There are some parents that hom eschool but have not used a computer due to religious or other reasons (Higgins, 2008). Knowles (1998) found that homeschooling parents do not usually identify teaching strategies that help students achieve learning
41 goals. This indicates that even if paren ts are computer literate they may not be may be comfortable with technology, their parents may not be as astute (Norris, Simpson & Wilkinson, 2008). As a school administrat or, Srinivasan (2011) admitted that teenagers were far ahead of her in regards to the features of information technology. As early as 1992, Alan November stated that this was the first generation of parents who had access to a lot of technology within the household, and that often parents did not know how to effectively use this technology (November, 1992). Recently, Kunzman (2012) found that homeschool parents varied in how and to what degree they access resources outside the home, and this includes their use of the Internet. Parents who take on the role of teacher may find homeschooling more difficult and time consuming than anticipated and experience burnout (Lois, 2006). However, if parents learn to use technology, they can also teach their child to use the skill to access outside resources, thereby becoming more self directed and reducing the frustration level for the parents (Nielsen, 2011). Shriederman, Borkowski, Alavi and Norman (1998) suggested that homeschoolers who utilize technology will be experience. Recently, a report from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE, 2010), stated that h omeschooling parents should prioritize student mastery of literacy, media, and technology skills because students who achieve proficiency in these skills will be better prepared for postsecondary education and the workplace. Chiu, Sun, Sum and Ju (2007) maintain that the success of any web based tisfaction. As early as 1995, researchers
42 stated that for technology to be adopted it must be an appropriate fit for the task (Goodhue &Thompson, 1995). This is reinforced by Lin (2011) who stated that it is important that users perceive the technology is a good fit in order to continue using it. Saade and Bahli (2005) found that when one learns to use the technology it affects the perceived usefulness, but not the perceived ease of use. More clearly, if the user learns to use the technology he or she may p erceive that technology is useful, but not technology. For parents to use technology in teaching their child, they must perceive it as appropriate, useful and easy. Neil and Bonner (2012) suggested that two important issues concerning directly influence his or her perceived usefulness of technology? and (b) does the perceived usefulness of technology directly influence his or her intention to use the technology? This also applies to the homeschool parent. That is, if the parent perceives the technology as easy to use and useful, will this influence their use of technology in teaching the the e Parental Involvement in Online Schooling Research indicates that school to hom e communication and parent involvement has a positive impact upon the academic achievement of students ( Barwegen, Falciani, Putnam, Reamer, & Stair, 2002). When parents and teachers communicate well, learning and how to enhance teaching at home (Hill & Taylor, 2004). Research focusing specifically on parental
43 involvement in virtual schooling is lacking primarily because it is difficult to develop valid measurement instruments (Liu, Black, Algina, Cavan augh & Dawson, 2010). Even so, Russell (2004) believed the role of parental involvement in virtual schooling could be more important than it is in traditional schooling. For the purposes of this study, parental ctions with the school and their child to help the student achieve academic success ( Hill et al., 2004 ). Parental Influence on Students According to Feng, Black, Algina, Cavanaugh & Dawson (2010), parents may influence their child in four ways; encouragement, modeling, reinforcement, and instruction. Parents who encourage their students to be self directed help instill personal responsibility. Parents who involve children in proje cts where they collectively stay on which parents can reinforce by helping to establish good learning habits that include completion of learning tasks and applying u ses of technology. Finally, parents influence effective instruction when they promote and model communication between students, parents, and the teacher. Motivation of Parental Involvement Ice and Hoover Dempsey (2010), state that the motivation of parent al involvement succeed, specific invitations for involvement from either the teacher or the child, and the he e learning guide is a tool that helps parents increase their technology skills, enabling them to direct their time and energy into assisting their child. Epstein (2007) suggests that schools and teachers in middle schools should develop partnerships tha t reach all families to help students
44 achieve success. To reach out to more families, Mitchell, Foulger and Wetzel (2009) emphasized that Internet based communications increase the frequency of communication as well as the ability to reach all family membe rs regardless of time or location. The Ogburn School encourages two way communication through the online messaging, e mail, chat, Skype and telephone. Parents and students are encouraged to create personal web pages and participate in forums and discussion boards. If parents curriculum, they can better teach their child which, in turn, may lead to higher achievement. Parental Involvement Roles Del Litke (1998) categorized the parental roles into three types: absentee, supportive, and participatory parent. The absentee parent is often one who works outside the home, which may result in leaving the student largely responsible for their own learnin g. The supportive parent is one who makes certain that the student meets his/her responsibilities by questioning the student about progress, communicating with teachers, and providing tutorial assistance when needed. In this role, the amount of involvement fluctuates, increasing when the student experiences difficulties. The third type, the participatory parent, stays involved throughout the process, often tutoring, editing work, and supervising progress. Although it is difficult to determine which role a p arent will play upon enrollment into the Ogburn School, the e learning guide may help parents become more participatory by helping them learn to use the technology skills needed to successfully complete the learning tasks with their child. The instruction al setting for students in the Ogburn School is two fold. First, the students are enrolled in a virtual school that provides full time instruction. Second, the
45 students are considered homeschooled and their parents or guardians monitor and supplement their work. One study states that although parental encouragement may have a positive impact on student achievement, parental instruction may have a negative impact on student achievement. Therefore, interventions should include instructions for parents on effe ctive instructional strategies (Black, 2009). The e learning guide is one measure taken by the Ogburn School to provide instruction for parents to effectively assist them in teaching their child. Summary of the Reviewed Research By 1993, partly due to the efforts of lobbying organizations, homeschooling was legal in all 50 states (Kunzman (2009). Parental academic, ethnicity, or financial status Putnam, Reamer, & Stair, 2004). Res earch from Leo Roache (2009) indicated that globally, control over the curriculum used and a strong family unit are the reasons for homeschooling, which is similar to those in the United States. The Internet has influenced the development of social network ing and teaching resources ( Basham, Merrifield & Hepburn, 2007; Stevens, 2001). Virtual schools are also growing as are provided by public, charter, university and private organizations (Cavanaugh, 2010). There is little research on how technology impact s homeschoolers, but there is evidence that homeschool parents use technology at different levels, formats and purposes (Bullock, 2011). By using computers and the Internet, homeschooling parents have more available resources than in the past (Jorgenson, 2 011). However, in order for technology to be effective, parents must know how to use technology resources before they use it with their children (McMullen, 2004). Parents and students should be familiar with technology skills in order to complete assignmen ts and gain proficiency in
46 writing and research (Klamm, 2012). Although parental roles in virtual schools may differ than those in traditional schools, some believe parental involvement may be more important in virtual schools than traditional schools (Rus sell, 2004). The purpose of the e learning guide is to assist parents in learning to use technology resources in homeschooling their child. The e effective use of technology which may increase their involv ement, leading to higher student achievement.
47 Table 2 1. Virtual School Categories Category Management and Regulation State virtual schools Multi district virtual schools Single district virtual schools Consortium programs University programs Private, proprietary, parochial Regulated by either a state agency or a non governmental agency contracted to the state Full time programs, generally charter schools (cyber schools) Generally provide supplement al programs at the secondary level Operated by networks and district either within a region or state and offer supplemental middle and high school (secondary) courses Operated by private or public universities offer tuition based full time or supplemental programs Sometimes an extension of an existing school and may also offer courses either partially or fully online
48 CHAPTER 3 E LEARNING GUIDE DESIG N AND IMPLEMENTATION fectiveness and use of technology in homeschool instruction before and after the use of an e learning guide. This chapter describes the development and implementation of the e learning guide that was used in this research study. It was hypothesized that pr oviding parents with instruction and activities would increase their perceived effectiveness and use of technology in homeschooling their children. Theoretical Framework The design of the e learning guide was based on multiple theories: adult learning, student retention in online learning, systemic lesson design, and Design Based Research (DBR). A brief overview of each theory is presented here, as well as a description of the strategies for implementation of the principles of each theory. Adult Learning Theory and Implementation Since the e learning guide was intended for parents of homeschool students, adult learning theory is appropriate. Malcolm Knowles (1984) is credited for introducing the elping adults learn. Adult learning theory (Knowles, 1990; Merriam, 2001) is based on five principles; adults are internally motivated, possess rich life experiences, are goal oriented, are relevancy oriented and have a need to be respected. A short descri ption of each principle is provided here with a description of the strategy used to incorporate each principle in the e learning guide. 1. Adults are internally motivated and self directed. In general, adults have a self concept that is independent from outside influences and continuously complete independent projects that require specific tasks and problem solving skills.
49 Implementation Strategy: As learning coaches, parents are motivated to assist their child in completing lessons successfully. The pa direction will keep them focused on completing the e learning guide activities. 2. Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to new learning experiences. They draw on their experiences to further learn new concepts and tasks. Adults can use their existing foundation of knowledge and build new experiences. Implementation Strategy: Prior experiences and knowledge are a component of the e learning guide activities. Activities incorporate communication, research, and problem solving skills that parents bring from life experience and prior learning. 3. Adults are goal oriented. When adults see that a specific task can help them perform real world tasks they are ready to learn. Implementation Strategy: A goal for parents is for their child to experience success in online learning. The e learning guide includes tasks that students need to master in order to complete lessons successfully with a minimum of success. 4. Adults are relevancy oriented. When the task is of immediate use, then it is considered rel evant. Tasks that are not of immediate use to the learner may be considered less relevant and therefore less important to the learner at that time. Implementation Strategy: The technology skills in the e learning guide are s in online learning. The lessons contain only skills that will assist parents and students in the course. These skills are also relevant to everyday use of technology outside of school. 5. Adult learners like to be respected. They respond more readily if they are regarded as a colleague with valuable life experiences. Implementation Strategy: online school. According to Bl ondy (2007), instructors should utilize adult learning theory to address the demand of online teaching which differs from face to face teaching. Bonner (1982), states that adult learner characteristics should be accommodated in lesson design. Adult learnin g characteristics outlined by Malcolm Knowles (1968, 1984, 1990, 1992, 1996), and supported by Sharon Merriam (2001) are the foundation of the e
50 learning guide activities. Including adult learning principles in the lesson design ensures that the e learning guide is suitable for the parents of homeschool students. Student Retention in Online Learning Principles and Implementation Strategies The student recruitment categories outlined by Ormond Simpson (2003) are recruitment, retention, retrieval and reclamat ion. The two categories that were emphasized were recruitment and retention on course, but all categories were addressed. A description of each principle is described below, followed by the implementation strategy used in the e learning guide. Ormond Simps on (2003) categorizes retention into four states: 1. Recruitment: The goals and objectives of the students should be confirmed to ensure the enrollment is a good fit for the student. Implementation Strategy: During the enrollment interviews, the goals a nd objectives of parents and students are discussed and confirmed before enrolling the student. 2. Retention: Keeping students on track in the course ensures that students do not fall behind because students who fall behind are more likely to withdraw. Implementation Strategy: Frequent contact and feedback with parents, both online, by e mail and telephone are the primary retention strategies (Ormond, 2003). Contact will be made before the course (pre enrollment interview), after each submission, after t he surveys, and after course completion. 3. Retrieval: Students who are absent from classes are more likely to fall behind and withdraw from the course. Implementation Strategy: Parents who did not complete the e learning guide activities within the 2 w eek time frame were encouraged to discuss issues with us and clarify how we could assist them in completing the task and moving 4. Reclamation: Students who withdraw are brought back into the class. Implementation Strategy: Parents who withdrew their child were contacted for an exit interview to determine how the program could better meet their needs.
51 86) which include frequent contact a nd timely feedback. Frequent parent contact, inc luding before the course, after each submission, in the forums and during the end of course 19). Systemic Lesson Des ign and Implementation Robert Gagne (1985) asserts that the most important elements of instructional design and good teaching are presenting the knowledge or demonstrating the skill, providing practice with feedback and providing learner guidance. Michael Corry (2006) questions. Second, describe the goal, state what students will be able to accomplish and how the student can transfer this knowledge for use in the future. Third, remind the student of prior knowledge that is relevant to the current lesson. This includes any facts, rules, procedures or skills that are applicable. Fourth, present the new lesson using multiple media sources such as text, graphics, simulations, figures, pictures, sound. Fifth, provide guidance for learning using sidebars or other reminder tools. Sixth, practice the new skills to improve performance. Seventh, provide valid and timely initiate transfer by giving students the opportunity to apply knowledge in a similar situation. s (1985) Nine Events of Instruction model using four of the learning events. Including a streamlined lesson design reduces any irrelevant activities and creates a format that is more flexible for
52 vents were modified to four in the e learning guide is provided, along with the implementation strategies used in the e learning guide. 1. Describe the goal and identify how this knowledge can be used in the future. Implementation Strategy: Helpdesk req uests were analyzed to identify the skills required for inclusion in the e learning guide. Learners were informed of how the 2. s in the learner. Implementation Strategy: Lesson opening included questions or phrases intended to prompt responses from the learner. 3. Allow the learner opportunity to practice a new skill. Practice is needed to improve performance over time. Impleme ntation Strategy: Activities provide at least two opportunities to practice the targeted skills. If additional practice was needed it was provided on an individual basis. 4. Reinforce the concepts through reflection. Implementation Strategy: Concepts were reinforced using reflection strategies by commenting and posting their experiences in forums and discussion boards. Reflection was also provided in the interviews. Chen (2007) suggests a support based design that addresses the four components of techn ology, course content, people, and learning tasks. The modules in the e learning guide will provide instruction, guidance and feedback on activities that are embedded in a real world context that is useful for the learner. Three topics are included in the e learning guide: Technology Fundamentals, Web Basics, and Educational Resources. Each topic is divided into sections that provide objectives, examples and practice designed to increase technology awareness and use. Each topic also includes a more complex learning task that will guide the learner into creating web based learning experiences for their homeschool student.
53 Design Based Research (DBR) According to the Design based Research Collective (2003), design based research blends empirical educational r esearch with theory driven learning design to promote understanding of what works in educational practice. Using design based research requires an ongoing process that monitors the effectiveness of a lesson or learning object to provide immediate, ongoing and accumulating feedback on the value and use of the lesson, object or task (Parker, 2011). Design based research also incorporates the ongoing cycles of testing and refinement of the solutions put into practice (Reeves, 2006 ) Each cycle, or phase, of th e design is called iteration. The development of the e learning guide follows a design based research process in that the guide, as the learning object, was revised and adjusted after reflection on the object and its effectiveness were analyzed over time (Barab & Squire, 2004). According to Joseph (2004), using DBR provides opportunities for researchers to understand problems of practice, allows researchers to focus on key questions or problems, and helps to shape research methods along with the design. design and implementation of intervention strategies, analysis, reflection and revision over a period of time which are represented in Figure 3 1. A description of how the D BR principles are specifically applied to the e learning guide follows. Design Based Research Implementation The e learning guide was developed using the Design Based Research method in which a question is studied and changes are made according to the data analysis, reflection, and revision of the process. The problem identification was the homeschool
54 lessons. Analysis of help desk requests indicated that a resource was need ed to help parents teach their children more effectively in an online environment. The e learning guide was the result of three iterations of the design process. Phase one of the technology guide was a hard copy printed guide that was distributed with the student start materials but contained no instructions on how it might be used. The guide was provided solely as i nformation. Its use was not monitored, nor were parents or students asked to provide feedback on the guide. A comparison of help desk requests that were received before and after the hard copy guide was distributed indicated that the number of requests did not decrease during this period. Reflection on how to improve the hard copy guide to help parents and students resulted in a revision of the document delivery method from a printed hard copy to an online resource. In phase two, the guide was posted onlin e in the document resource section of the online learning portal used by students. The online tracking system in the learning management portal indicated that although the guide was accessed during the initial orientation period, it was seldom accessed dur ing the course. The helpdesk requests continued to include the basic technology skills that were included in the guide, indicating that parents and students were not referring to the guide as a resource. Reflection on the lack of success with this delivery option led to a third revision of the guide, which is the e learning guide that was used in this study. Phase three was the development of the e learning guide as a component of the parent and student orientation module. Discussions with faculty and staf f at the Ogburn
55 School led to the conclusion that the original goal of the guide remained, which was to reduce the amount of time office staff and teachers spent on the phone assisting parents with the most simple of technology tasks. At this point the pro cess became more deliberate, with the purpose of creating the online module in the orientation that included authentic tasks for participants. First the help desk request logs were analyzed to determine which skills were requested most often. The helpdes k requests listed here are followed by the number of how to submit an assignment (255 s I used as resources (149) and miscellaneous requests such as lost user id (57). Skills were sorted and grouped according to similarities (Appendix B). Lessons were created based on the skills identified from the help desks analysis, with the instruction accessed online and became part of the orientation process. This intervention plan is an ongoing strategy that has seen revisions over the past year. Revisions to update the content will continue as the guide is monitored and analyzed. The parent survey provided their reflections on which skills were presented well and which needed further development (Reeves, 2006). The online participant tracking log allows us to align the participa nt responses to the surveys and interviews. As this information is collected and
56 evaluated, the guide will be updated to reflect more relevant content (Parker, 2011). The call for future revisions, which can probably be posted in a timely manner since the guide is posted online. The e learning guide will require ongoing feedback, reflection and revision to remain relevant to the current and future parents of children enrol led in the Ogburn School. The design of the e learning guide is a design based research process because it involves ongoing feedback, reflection and revision over three iterations (Barab & Squire, 2004). Evaluating the effectiveness of the e learning guide which is the third iteration, will help the Ogburn School better understand the needs of the parents, focus more on the key questions that emerge over time, and refine its research methods in creating, analyzing and revising the e learning guide to suppo rt parents (Joseph, 2004). A representation of the design based research iterations of the e learning guide is shown in Figure 3 2. The timeline for completion of the e learning guide was two weeks. Parents were not able to attend a face to face training b ecause the school is a virtual school and learning guide was delivered through Moodle, the same online learning platform used by the students. This e learning guide was d esigned in an asynchronous (not occurring at the same time) short course module to meet the various time demands of parents and was a component of the orientation. Completing the same types of authentic learning tasks ensured that parents gained experience using the same tools their child uses when navigating the site. Parents are expected to better guide their students after
57 completing similar activities. Figures 3 3, 3 4, and 3 5 are screen shots that illustrate the format of the guide as well as some of the objectives and tasks. The guide included technology information, instructional websites, asynchronous facilitator assistance, authentic performance tasks and a discussion forum where participants could ask questions or share information. It provided in struction and authentic practice using technology as a learning tool. Implementation of the E learning Guide The e learning guide was a component of the required orientation process for parents of 6 th 8 th grade students. Orientation requirements were discussed in detail with parents prior to acceptance of the student into the school. Once enrollment was finalized parents were provided access and instructions via both e mail and telephone on how to access a nd log into the site. Participants were led step by step through the process by telephone when needed. The time frame for completion of activities was the The middle grades lead teacher served as facilitator of the e learning guide activities since she was familiar with the expectations for each grade level. The facilitator provided support for participants through e mail, Skype, online chat, or telephone. Although the facilitator is the primary contact, all fac ulty and staff are trained and available for parent support as needed. The e learning guide was developed using the principles of adult learning theory, student retention strategies, systemic lesson design, and design based research. Specific strategies f or each component were identified and utilized during the implementation phase of the e learning guide. These principles and strategies facilitated the technology skills that parents need to support students and those skills needed for
58 student success in o nline learning in the Ogburn School. The planned outcome of successful implementation of the e learning guide is to improve results for students and long term gains for the school in increased productivity and school effectiveness.
59 Figure 3 Identification of an emerging problem (Requests for technology assistance) Designing intervention strategies (E learning guides) Implementing intervention strategies (implement e learning guide) Reflection and revision (Solicit feedback, revise accordingly) Gathering feedback Additional Revision of e learning guide Evaluation (Gather and analyze participation data)
60 Figure 3 2. E Learning Guide Design Iterations
61 Figure 3 3. Home Screen
62 Figure 3 4 Information Literacy
63 Figure 3 5. Discussion Forum
64 CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY This chapter describes the instruments, data collection methods, and data analysis that were used to evaluate the implementation of the e learning guide at the Ogburn School and to answer the primary research question: How does the use of an e learning gu ide that emphasizes the use of relevant web and use of technology in a 6 th 8 th grade virtual homeschool environment? Research Design The research question was answered wit h the help of a pre and post technology skills survey, the participant log data available from the online learning management system and a semi structured interview with 18 participants. Demographics including prior homeschooling experience, prior virtual school experience, and state or country of residence were collected from the student applications to the Ogburn School. Research procedures were submitted for approval to the University of Florida Institution al Review Board before beginning data collection. Participants were informed of the purpose of the research, assured of confidentiality, and were given the option of including or excluding their data. Those who agreed to participate signed the informed con sent document before completing the surveys and beginning the e learning guide activities. Although participants are able to opt out of the data collection, the e learning he e learning guide course whether or not their data was included in the study.
65 Data Collection Technology Skills Survey A Technology Skills Survey was used as a pre and post assessment of parent perceptions of their personal technology skills. The surv ey contains 10 questions with nine Likert type scale responses addressing the skills identified in the helpdesk logs such as e mail, Internet, and integrated applications plus one open ended question. The pre survey was administered during orientation bef ore parents began using the e learning guide. The post survey was administered after the parents completed the e learning guide activities. These pre and post technology surveys (Appendix C) use of technology before and after completing the e learning guide. The pre and post survey data instruments were integrated within the same online learning management system as the e learning guide. Pre and post survey data was collected over a four we ek period from November 15 through December 15, 2012. The interview data was collected over a two week period from December 5 through December 20, 2012. Analysis was completed during January, 2013. Participant Interview Interviews were conducted by telep hone in order to collect feedback on the e learning guide with parents who were willing to participate (Appendix D). Interviews were semi structured and contained open preference perception, value and reflection o n the use of the technology resources in homeschooling. The interview contained six questions that were open ended, neutral and clear, which is a design based on the work of Turner (2010). The interviews were analyzed through the coding of themes.
66 The inte rview questions were first sent to three professional middle school educators, one university professor, and two parents to review and provide feedback on the survey questions. After review and discussion, two changes were made. The ibe any changes you would make to the e mmend this e After further review by a university professor, another question was added, namely, provided clarity to the survey questions. The revised interview questions were then sent to five parents of currently enrolled students for review (Appendix E). Responses included suggestions to write the questions in more simple language. Rather than change the questions, th ese questions were added as probing questions that could be used to elicit more thorough responses in the interview. The interviews were conducted by telephone and recorded. I took notes during the interviews (Patton, 1987). Pre interview conversations I had with participants before the start of the interviews also called for note taking. Each interview was transcribed into an individual document by an independent transcription service. Any unrelated material was removed (Burnard, 1994; Patton, 1987). For the purposes of validation, (Mishler, 1990) and to ensure the trustworthiness of my observations and interpretations, member checking (Creswell & Miller, 2000) was employed. More specifically, e ach interview was sent to the participant via an e mail attach ment for participant review with a request to make any needed corrections and return via e mail within five days. None
67 of the interviews were returned suggesting the interviewees felt their responses were accurately represented. The interviews were then im ported into one document for analysis. Parental Use of the E learning Guide One of the learning management system tools is a participant activity log that activity was a were collected by using this participant tracking tool within the learning management system. Data Analysis Pre and Post Surveys The scoring protocol for the pre and post surve ys was to average the mean values of each of the Likert scale responses for each question (Knezek, Christensen, Miyashita, & Ropp, 2000). This data was imported into a spreadsheet which compared the percentages for each of the Likert scale responses for ea ch question on the pre and post survey (Appendix F). Using STATA software, a paired t test was performed to determine if there were significant differences in the pre and post survey responses for the Category 4 (I can do this very well by myself). The g oal was to reach 100% on Category 4 for each question. Interviews After interview transcripts were collected the responses for each question were imported into one document. Responses were then analyzed by identifying terms, phrases, or keywords that repre sented relevant ideas (Taylor & Gibbs, 2010). Another
68 which we compared and discussed our codes, leading me to review my coding according to our discussion and common c odes. Next the data was categorized into common topics and codes. Sub responses (Glesne, 2006). After developing the codes and sub codes, the responses were aggregated into the codes and sub codes, duplic ates were eliminated, and descriptors were added (Bernhardt, 2004). An example of the coding process is provided in Appendix G. Perceived Challenges There were two perceived challenges to this study. One perceived challenge was the possibility that parent s would complete only a portion of the module but complete both the pre and post retention, participants were contacted frequently by the facilitator through the message center and by telephon e during this orientation period to encourage full participation and completion of each activity. User activity on the site was tracked by viewing the analyzing the data. An other perceived challenge was that parents may not be totally truthful in their survey responses. Parents may believe their responses could be influenced by positive or negative survey responses. The facilitator made it clear through conversations with parents and in a written disclaimer that survey responses do the orientation that the e learni ng guide was developed to help participants better help their child. These steps taken to encourage parents to complete the activities helped overcome these two perceived challenges.
69 Validity Validity refers to the degree to which a study accurately refle cts or assesses the specific concept the researcher is attempting to measure and the data must reflect what the participants have said or done (Maxwell, 1992; Walsh, 2003; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This is a qualitative research designed with the understand ing that the findings are a result of my interpretive efforts and may be subjective if preventive steps are not taken (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1998; Walsh, 2003). As part of the research process I can affect the re sults. Steps were taken to ensure validity in the study. This study included both quantitative data from the Technology Skills Pre and Post Surveys, and qualitative data from the parent interviews. Steps to ensure validity are described below. Interviews described (Lewis, 2009). Member checking was conducted via e mail and participants were given the opportunity to review their responses and respond with any corrections (Creswell & Miller, 20 question, after which we discussed our codes, increasing the trustworthiness of the coding scheme (Patton, 1987) I maintained a researcher log where I recorded self reflections during the proces s and any changes that occurred (Ortlipp, 2008; Merriam, 2009). These steps helped ensure the data were accurate, reflects the responses of the use of the e learning guid e, the survey results, and interview responses. Limitations of the Data Three limitations to the data are present and should be acknowledged. First, the study utilizes self reported data. Therefore, the survey data cannot be independently
70 verified and mus t be accepted as true (Krathwohl, 2004). Participants may exaggerate or experience selective memory. To reduce this limitation, effort was made to encourage participants to respond as accurately as possible. Second, the sample size may be too small for external validity. The margin of error is too large thus making it near impossible to draw descriptive or inferential conclusions from the data for generalization to a larger population The transferability of this study depends on the similarity of this s tudy transferable to another situation (Cresswell & Miller, 2010). Third, as a co founder of the Ogburn School, I have an interest in the success of the school. I am involved in daily operations and interact with parents and students on a daily basis. Thi s interaction helps to develop strong relationships among the students, parents, and school personnel. This same interaction also makes it necessary to be aware of this bias and consciously maintain objectivity in the collection and analysis of the data. A s designer of the e learning guide it is necessary to avoid researcher bias about the data results and participant feedback in order to effectively utilize the data constructively for future e learning guides. To maintain objectivity, I utilized the follo wing procedures: a. I maintained a reflective researcher log where I recorded critical self reflections on the process, and described any changes made to the design during the research process (Ortlipp, 2008; Merriam, 2009) (Appendix H) b. Interviews were recorded so that the descriptions could accurately describe the c. Interviews underwent member checking, where the participants could confirm, correct, or elaborate on their responses to the interview questions (Creswell and Miller, 2000) d. I kept all documents generated in the data collection process to create an audit trail (Merriam, 2009)
71 By utilizing these strategie s, I ensured that my experiences did not bias, but enhanced, my research. By implementing this research I gained additional knowledge on providing needed support for homeschool parents. Data collection for this study included technology pre and post technology skills surveys, participant log data, and semi structured interviews. A paired t test performed on the technology pre and post survey questions to determine any significant differences in the responses. Interviews were recorded and then transcribed. Responses were sorted and coded to identify themes. Limitations to consider were the self reported data, small study sample and researcher bias. Research objectivity was maintained through researcher logs, recorded interviews and member checking. The next chapter will discuss the results of the study in detail.
72 CHAPTER 5 RESULTS This chap ter describes the findings of research following the implementation of an e learning guide for 6 th 8 th grade homeschooling parents enrolled in the Ogburn School. Data were collected in the form of pre and post survey, and semi structured interviews with p articipants after two weeks of using the guide. Participant use of the guide was also tracked. The results are presented in this chapter in two sections. The first section describes the sample and the demographics. The second section is divided into three subsections: pre and post survey results, parent interview results, and the e learning guide participation data. Sample A total of 32 parents were chosen to participate in the study based on their responses to questions asked during the pre enrollment in terview. Of the original 32 participants, 100% completed the Technology Skills Pre Survey and the Post Survey. Four students were withdrawn shortly after the two week orientation period, eliminating their parents from the sample, thus leaving 28 parents el igible for the end of e learning course telephone interviews. Of the 28 remaining participants, four were unable to be scheduled, four declined to participate in the interviews citing family and travel commitments, and two were only partially completed due to extraneous circumstances. A total of 18 interviews were completed and included in the data. All of the interview participants were female (18), the majority were white (9) and had some sort of post secondary experience (11). All participants resided wi thin the United States. Seven of the eighteen had previous homeschooling experience. The
73 demographics of the total study participants and the interview participants are reported in Table 5 1. The lengths of the interviews ranged from 20 to 35 minutes, not including any pre interview conversations. Although not a part of the official demographics collected, there was opportunity for me to learn more about the participants which was kept in notes on these conversations. Fifteen of the participants had other c hildren in addition to the one being homeschooled. Although seven participants had previous homeschooling experience, only one was homeschooling another child at this time. Nine of the eighteen interviewees were single parents. Twelve participants held ful l time jobs outside the home, while three held part time jobs outside the home and two were not employed. One of the non the other was searching for part time employment. One participant operated her own home based business. Del Litke (1998) states that employment may cause the parental involvement role to be absentee, leaving the student largely responsible for his/her own learning. I believe that although the majority of the participants were either employed or seeking employment, these parents demonstrated supportive and participatory roles, if for no other reason than they committed time to this study in order to better teach their child. Findings This chapter reports the results of th e data. These findings are presented in three sections: Technology Skills Survey, Parent Interviews and Reflective Journal. Summary of the Pre and Post Technology Skills Survey Results The first activity in the e learning guide was to complete the Techn ology Skills Pre Survey which contained items about specific tasks related to the use of technology for
74 learning guide participants were asked to complete the Technology Skills Post Survey. The responses were categorized as follows: 2 = I know what this means but I cannot do it 3 = I can do this with help from someone 4 = I can do this very well by myself The goal was to attain a response of 100% in Category 4 (I can this this very well by myself) for every question. Results of the technology skills pre survey scores indicated only one item score above 80% in Category 4 which was; (a) using Internet search engines to find primary sources of information. This indicated there was a need for technology assistance provided in the e learning guide. The discussion of the survey results focuses primarily on the post survey results, because the purpose of the e learning guide was to help participants learn the skills targeted in the e learning guide well enough to respond Category 4 on every question. Of the nine items, the highest post technology skills survey scores indicating 80% or above mastery were (a) use internet search engines to find primary sources of information (88.9% ), (b) download and install the latest version of Adobe Reader (83.3%), and (c) identify and download a Microsoft compatible program (83.3%). The lowest post technology skills survey scores were (a) e mails: inserting images into and attaching a document to an e mail (78.8%), (b) e mails: downloading, opening and saving documents sent as an e mail attachment (76.5%), (c) using technology for collaboration (72.2%), (d) uploading documents through the online learning portal (66.7%), (e) inserting images int o a document and upload for
75 submission, and (f) saving documents in alternate formats such as .rtf or .pdf (66.7%). The lessons that address these skill sets will be reviewed and modified for inclusion in the next iteration of the e learning guide to bet ter teach these skills. The purpose of the e technology tasks that are required in the student coursework. Although there is a percentage increase in the perceived technology skills in all skil ls sets except one, the goal of achieving a response in Category 4 (I can do this very well by myself) in all skill sets was not met. Since the goal of a 100% response in Category 4 for every question was not met, all skill sets will be retained in the e l earning guide. Questions will be reviewed for clarity and relevance to ensure the survey questions accurately reflect the skills. Lessons will be modified to better address the targeted skills which may improve the post survey outcomes. The results of the pre and post survey responses are reported in Table 5 2 In every skill category but one, there was a percentage increase in the mean response, indicating an increase in technology skills by participants. To determine if these increases were significant, a paired samples t test was conducted because the pre and post survey data points were the same for each group and there was no assumption of a significant difference between the two groups (Trochim, 2006). Using STATA software, the paired samples t test was conducted on each question of the pre and post survey comparing the mean scores from Category 4 (I can do this very well by myself) responses using a significance level of p =0.05. Category 4 was chosen because I considered this the most important dat a point since the goal of the e learning guide was to enable participants to reach a skill level where they could perform each
76 task without assistance. Of the nine items, seven were considered significant (Table 5 3). The two items considered not significa nt were (a) e mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment and (b) use Internet search engines to find primary sources of information. These two areas of concern will be targeted for improvement in future e learning guides. These results indicate that the e learning guide of the paired t test are reported in Table 5 3. The themes, categorized from the semi structured interview questions, reflec ted the following: (a) how the e learning guide was used by the participants for teaching learning guide (experience), (c) what the participants liked about the e learning guide (likes), (d) wha t the participants disliked about the e learning guide (dislikes), (e) would participants recommend the e learning guide (recommendations), and (f) additional comments. Themes are presented here, along with a description of the codes and sub codes. Partic Learning Guide In analyzing how the e three primary categories: applications, information, and collaboration. Applications bed their use of specific programs to complete certain tasks. For example, Adobe Reader is needed to view documents in the lesson, and Open Office can be used to create documents and presentations. The ness, access and use of free resources on the Internet such as lesson plans or project ideas. Collaboration referred to the ways in which participants described using the resources provided in the e
77 learning guide to communicate and share experiences with other homeschooling parents. Applications The e learning guide contained instruction for parents on how to use applications such as Adobe Reader and Open Office so that they could teach their children. These skills are needed to complete the required assi gnments in the academic courses. Parents stated that they had learned how to use these applications and could now teach their children how to open and save documents in different formats and create presentations for the lessons. In addition, they said they learned how to download some of these free programs, such as Open Office, on other computers which saved them additional expense. Included in the e learning guide was information on free programs available that are used for the academic lessons. Some of these programs are Adobe Reader for reading pdf files, Open Office as a Microsoft Word substitute, WordPress to create a blog, and Yola as a website builder. The two applications mentioned the most by participants during interviews were Adobe Reader and Op en Office. Some participants expressed that before they used the e learning guide, they either did not know about these programs or did not know how to update the current version on their computer. Several participants reflected on their improved technical skills with comments such as, liked a lot. I mean, I knew about the Adobe but not how to k comments showed increased understanding of why certain technical issues occurred.
78 They also mentioned that learning about the different file formats and file conversion was useful to them: ferent types of files, like saving them in different ways. Now I do know the difference between the Adobe files and In the e learning guide, participants learned about using Open Offi ce, a free software package for word processing spreadsheets presentations graphics and databases. This program works on most computers and is compatible with other common office software packages, such as Microsoft Office. In the e learning guide, Ope n Office was acknowledged as a valuable free substitute for Microsoft Word. In some cases participants not only used Open Office for the student enrolled in the Ogburn School, but also used it on other computers in the home for other children. One partici Adobe Reader and Open Office are just great! I got our computer from a One participant also Information In the e learning guide, parents learned about free educational web sites, such as Mathisfun.com, to help them teach their child academ ic skills when there was a need for additional explanation, reinforcement, or just a break from the traditional lessons. Sites such as A Z homeschooling and Kidzpage were noted by participants as helpful free resources for lesson ideas and materials. The e learning guide helped participants
79 lessons we still do something educational, s Another participant expressed enthusiasm for the sites that provide easy to understand tutorials because this helped them learn and better teach their student. the One participant expressed how learning about blogs made it easier for her to help blogs In addition to these educational websites, the e learning guide was used as an ongoing r formats before but had forgotten, so I went back a few times and looked again when I wa learning guide was used by some participants as a reference tool. Collaboration One component of the e learning guide was a module on homeschooling sites that included blogs promoting information sharing among families. Participants found this had
80 communication be learning guide. By using the e learning guide, parents learn how to identify homeschooling sites that promote communication, and they can use blogs and wikis to collaborate with other homeschoo l families to exchange ideas about best homeschool practices. Experience In describing their experience using the e learning guide, participants highlighted positive elements such as ease of use and navigation as well ascertain areas that they disliked. P What Participants Liked About the E learning Guide Overall the responses from participants were positive and indicated they found the it was pretty self how to help their child because I did the same thing and already knew how to send in ticipant who ting that the e learning guide increased their knowledge of general computer skills. Participants continued to use the e learning guide as a resource after they completed it, it up on
81 What participants disliked about the e learning guide Participants also reflected on what they did not like about the e learning guide, such as having difficulty following the information in the beginning and stating that th e students, not the parents, should be required to complete the e learning guide. One critical response indicated that participants thought the information was hard to follow in first but An example of this is: ts are doing it, not the parents. I almost quit because I said, I signed my kids up for school, not me. Another participant said they thought that the e ers thought would like more things to do not on the Internet, like worksheets or things kids can do One participant suggested changing th e order of the lessons to better engage participants because they did not like the grouping of information. Another criticism indicated that the e Technology Skills When ask ed what types of technology skills should be added to help parents with instruction, responses were varied. Some stated that nothing should be added because the e responses were tha
82 create a video for an assignment were suggested as an alternative option for assignment submissions. One participant suggested that typing instruction be added because students type their work in texting style and should learn to type correctly. Would Participants Recommend the E learning Guide? Fifteen of the eighteen interviewees stated they would rec ommend the e learning guide to other homeschooling parents because it showed them how to complete the lessons and gave them confidence in what they were doing by providing practice before beginning the lessons. Although there was a recurring theme of requi ring the students to complete the e learning guide as opposed to parents, one participant stated that the value became apparent after using the e learning guide. This was reflected in the icipant expressed lear ning guide may be too long and should be streamlined. Interview Data Summary Positive feedback from the participants during the interviews indicates the e learning guide helped parents learn more about free software, educational websites, and computer ter minology while increasing their computer skills in such tasks as attaching or uploading documents and saving in different formats. Some participants requested more tasks in collaboration strategies such as wikis and blogs. Negative feedback indicated some participants thought the course was too long, contained either too much or not enough Internet tasks, should include more free sites,
83 the technical component was too hard to read and the glossary should contain images. Some participants felt the e mail ta sks were too basic and one comment was made that the participant just skipped what was not needed. During interviews, parents suggested these additional skills pertaining to the Internet were needed -Open Office programs, typing programs, Internet safety building professional web pages, creating wikis, blogs, videos, time saving computer The e learning guide helped some parents better prepare for the school year. One parent appreciated how she was ab Reducing the time requirement and requiring students to participate would address the most prevalent suggestions for impro vement. The comment that best illustrates the intent of the e A sample of the coding document is included in Appendix G. Results of the interview data are reported in Table 5 4. Participant Activity Logs access to the activities in the e learning guide, which functions as a course in the LMS. The participant report provides the total numbers of times a lesson was acce ssed during the course. The five lessons accessed most often were1) saving documents in different formats (101 accesses), 2) e mails (inserting images into and attaching documents to an e mail) (91 accesses), 3) e mails: open, download and save a document sent as an e mail attachment (89 accesses), 4) Microsoft Word compatible programs (87 accesses), and 5) Adobe Reader (79 accesses).
84 Four of the lessons most accessed by participants corresponded to survey items that showed a significant increase on the po st survey. These were (a) saving documents in different formats, (b) e mails: insert an image, attach a document to an e mail, (c) Microsoft Word compatible programs, and (d) Adobe Reader. One lesson ability to complete the tasks did not increase significantly on the post survey. This was (b) e mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment. In the interview data, participants stated they were able to use the information on e ma ils, and this lesson was accessed 89 capabilities with this skill was not significant. This may indicate that the e learning guide should contain more explicit instruction and d eliberate practice on this specific skill. The five lessons accessed least often were the discussion forums which ranged from 9 16 accesses. This contradicted the interview data where participants stated they learned to use technology to collaborate with others. However, one explanation for this is that these forums were meant for one visit or posting as a learning tool. As participants learned how to post to a forum they were then able to use these skills to visit and post in outside forums, as well as po sting on wikis and blogs. This may indicate that the forums did not represent relevant topics to the participants and need to be revisited. These results will be considered in deciding which skills to emphasize and which to reduce in future e learning guid es. Those accessed the most may be expanded while those accessed the least require content revision or made optional. The results of the 5. A correlation of the participant data log
85 analysis for the five most and least accessed lessons correlated to the pre and post survey questions is reported in Table 5 6. Researcher Log I began my researcher log by writing into a spiral notebook. I was excited about writing in a traditional format. After one week I decided this was uncomfortable for me I changed to using post it notes during the day and then transcribing my notes into a Word document at the end of the day. In reviewing my log I noticed that I seemed worried about the participants completing the activities on time. I was also surprised by some of the requests, such as a participant requesting a print copy of the lessons. I page? I need to provide a print to empathy because some participants really did not know how to do some of the n why I was so surprised at the learning guide was developed. began to be more mindful of their point of view a nd how the lessons were perceived from the other side of the learning portal. I better understood that the e learning guide needed more of an instructional design approach than to be based in adult learning theory or design based research. It was about exp laining in words and visuals how to accomplish a task in language that was appropriate to the learner. It was about good teaching, staying in touch with the students, and meeting their needs through timely messaging and feedback. A complex task became simp le. The e learning guide
86 deeply by recording my reactions. A sample of the researcher log is provided in Appendix H. Evaluation of this data helped determine the partic learning guide. Outcomes indicate the e perceived effectiveness and use of technology. The next chapter discusses the findings as related to the research question and implications f or future e learning guides.
87 Table 5 1. Participant Demographics Characteristic Total (n=32) Interview (n=18) Gender Male 4 0 Female 28 18 Ethnicity Caucasian 15 9 Black 10 6 Hispanic 6 3 Native American 1 0 Education Less than a high school diploma 2 0 High school diploma 10 5 Some college 12 11 Bachelors 8 2 Masters 0 0 Doctoral 0 0 Cou ntry USA 100 100 Prior homeschooling experience Yes 11 7 No 21 11
88 Table 5 2. Pre and Post Survey Data Comparison (Results are reported as a percentage of the sample) Likert Scale Categories : 2 = I know what this means but I cannot do it 3 = I can do this with help from someone 4 = I can do this very well by myself Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Skill Category 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 (1)Download & install the latest version of Adobe Reader 5.2 0.0 5.3 0.0 18.4 16.7 71.1 83.3 (2)Identify, download and install a Microsoft Word compatible program (e.g., Lotus, Symphony) 5.2 0.0 13.2 0.0 34.2 16.7 47.4 83.3 (3)E mails: inserting images into and attaching documents to an e mail 2.6 0.0 2.6 0.0 25.6 21.2 69.2 78 .8 (4)E mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment 7.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 17.9 23.5 74.4 76.5 (5)Upload documents through an online learning portal 12.8 0.0 5.2 0.0 33.3 33.3 48.7 66.7 (6)Insert images into a lesson document and upload for submission 17.9 0.0 5.2 0.0 25.6 33.3 51.3 66.7 (7)Use Internet search engines to find primary sources of information (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 5.3 11.1 94.7 88.9 (8)Save documents in alternate formats so that others can read them if they have different word processing programs (e.g., saving Word, RTF, or .pdf) 10.3 0.0 7.7 0.0 41.0 33.3 41.0 66.7 (9)Use t echnology to collaborate with the school, other homeschool parents or students (e.g., wikis, blogs) 5.1 0.0 2.6 0.0 30.8 27.8 61.5 72.2
89 Table 5 3. Pre and Post Survey Means Results n=32 Interview Data Question/Skill Pre Post p value (1)Download & install the latest version of Adobe Reader 3.46875 3.9375 0.0036 (2)Identify, download and install a Microsoft Word Compatible program (e.g., Lotus, Symphony) 3.25000 3.9375 0.0000 (3)E mails: insert an image into and attach a document to an e mail 3.56250 3.90625 0.0029 (4)E mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment 3.59375 3.90625 0.1000 (5)Upload documents through an online learning portal 3.25000 3.7185 0.0008 (6)Insert images into a lesson document and upload for submission 3.20875 3.84375 0.0001 (7)Use Internet search engines to find primary sources of information (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo) 3.93750 3.90625 0.3251 8)Save documents in formats (e.g., saving Word, RTF, or .pdf) 3.12500 3.71875 0.0000 (9)Use technology to collaborate (e.g., wikis, blogs) 3.50000 3.78125 0.0047
90 Table 5 4. Parent feedback on e learning guide Questions Responses 1. How did the e learning guide help you teach your child? I was able to teach my child about collaboration and educational Websites I learned more about free software We learned about e mail and file formats We used homeschool friendly websites The glossary was useful We learned how to build personal web pages The hardware information was useful and helped us know why Blogs and wikis were fun It helped me teach my child to learn more on her own by using the computer 2. How was your experience using the e learning guide? Easy to navigate Reference information was useful It provided practice for me before starting the course It was good. We used it. Tough at first but got easier Hard to follow at first Should be expanded Too long 3. What did you not like about using the e learning guide? Order of the information should be changed Too much focus on the internet Not enough explanation needed on the computer hardware section A more detailed glossary with pictures would be nice More free programs should be added mails that is basic Too technical hard to read Expected more internet and less technical type stuff 4. What technology skills should be added? More information on uploading documents More Internet information Learn how to build professional web pages Information on Open Office and other free programs Kids need to learn typing More wikis should be added to the site More Internet safety for kids Computer skills that would save time Creating videos Anything that will help 5. Would you recommend the e learning guide to other parents? Yes (15) No (3) It took too long 6. Please add any additional comments. I thought I knew more than I did I had to get someone from work to help me I wish we had textbooks
91 Table 5 5. Participant Activity Log Activity Total times accessed during course Saving Documents in Different Formats 101 E mails: inserting images into and attaching documents to an e mail 91 E mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment 89 Microsoft Word Compatible Programs 87 Adobe Reader: Do you have it on your computer? 79 Hardware Specifications, or What you need on your computer 61 Introduction 53 Locating Useful Websites for Teaching 51 Videos How to send e mails of all types 49 Web sources for homeschooling 47 A link to some 'Free Top Notch Websites' 43 Collaboration Personal web pages and blogs.... 42 Distance Education Glossary 41 Evaluating Web Sites 41 Create a web page for free.... 39 Technology Skills Pre Survey 32 Technology Skills Post Survey 32 Building blogs.... 29 Basic How To's Discussion Forum 16 Collaboration Forum 14 Computer and Browser Discussion Forum 13 Locating Useful Websites for Teaching Discussion Forum 11 Web Resources Discussion Forum 9
92 Table 5 6. Participant Activity Log Correlation to Pre and Post Survey Statistical Analysis Activities Correlation to Questions Significant Not significant Accessed most often: Saving documents in different formats 8 E mails: inserting images into and attaching documents to an e mail 3 E mails: download, open and save a document sent as an e mail attachment 4 Microsoft Word compatible programs 2 Adobe Reader 1 Accessed least often (forums): Basic E (inserting images into e mails, attaching documents to e mails, saving documents in different formats) 2,3,8 4 Collaboration forum (creating personal web pages and blogs) 9 Computer and browser forum (What you need on your computer, Adobe Reader, MSWord compatible programs) 1,2 Locating useful websites for teaching forum (web sources for homeschooling) 9 7 Web resources forum (locating and evaluating useful website for teaching) 9 7
93 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION AND IMPLI CATIONS This chapter summarizes the purpose of the study, discusses the results, and presents conclusions based on the data. Study limitations and recommendations are presented. The chapter concludes with the impact of the study and implications for future practic es of the Ogburn School. Context The Ogburn School is a private distance education school providing web based curriculum for grades K 12. Students enrolled in middle school are encouraged to be self directed learners but still require guided instruction p rovided by a learning coach, who is most often a parent. The Ogburn School recognizes that some parents choose homeschool as a last option and are not familiar with homeschooling, instructional methods or practices. These homeschooling parents are referred to in this study as a The Ogburn School provides instructional support for homeschooling parents through the learning portal message center, school e mail, school telephone, Skype and postal mail. After analyzing the numb er of helpdesk requests over time, it was apparent that requests for basic technology skills assistance comprised the largest number of requests and took a large amount of administrative and faculty time. An e learning guide was designed and implemented to provide training in technology skills for parents who work with their students as learning coaches. Parents were required to complete the e learning guide activities during an orientation period prior to the students beginning their academic studies. Pare nts used the same learning management system that the student used, which gave them the same technology experiences as their child. The
94 pre and post technology skills. Participant log dat learning guide activities. Data were collected from 32 participants. Interviews were also conducted with 18 participants that collected responses on using the e learning guide, suggestions for improvement and whether they would recommend the e learning guide to other homeschool parents. Overview Following the design based research (DBR) framework, the technology resource for parents was developed in three iterations that were improved based on parent use, an analysis of help desk requests, and researcher reflection. The first iteration was a hard copy mailed to students, the second an online resource that was not monitored, and the third was the e learning guide which is the fo cus of this study. The anticipated outcome of the study was an increase in the perceived technology skills proficiency of parents who enrolled their 6 th 8 th grade children in the Ogburn School.. To achieve this, the helpdesk calls were analyzed and sorted into technology skills categories that would be included in the training. Using the adult learning theories of Malcolm Knowles (1984), systemic lesson desig n, and design based research, an e learning guide was created that included the skills assistance most commonly requested in the helpdesk logs. A survey was conducted during the enrollment process to determine whether parents needed to participate in the e learning guide during the orientation. Those identified were asked to sign the informed consent for participation in the study. Participants completed the e learning guide during a two week orientation. This guide provided asynchronous self paced instruc tion and practice in the basic technology skills needed to successfully complete the middle school program. Participants
95 completed the technology skills pre survey before beginning the instructional modules. The instructional modules were self paces and in cluded basic technology skills instruction, independent tasks and discussion forums. After completion participants completed the technology skills post survey to determine if there was a significant difference in their perceived technology skill proficienc y. A paired t test performed on the technology skills pre survey and post survey showed a significant difference in A semi structured telephone interview was conducted with 18 participants to determ ine participant satisfaction with the e learning guide, which components of the guide were the most useful, the least useful, and suggestions for improving future e learning guides. These responses will be used to guide revisions in future e learning guide s. The majority number ( n =15) of those interviewed who would recommend the e learning guide to others suggests that the guide was beneficial to parents in learning technology skills they felt were worthwhile. The participant tracking log shows that, overal l, those who recommended the guide did not access the lessons any more often than those who did not recommend the guide. The purpose of the e learning guide was to help reluctant parents become comfortable using technology to teach their child, which, in t urn, may encourage parents Discussion of the Results This study was directed at reluctant homeschooling parents who were not experienced at teaching their children. The e learning guide was de signed to help
96 child. This study demonstrated that an e learning guide is important because of the hey are often unaware of playing a participatory role in order to help their child. Parents of students in the Ogburn School vary in their technology skills proficiency. The lack of technology skills proficiency of some parents of students enrolled in the Ogburn School was evidenced in the help desk requests. This was the emerging problem which led to the creation of an e learning guide that provided consistent technology skills assistance for parents. In this study, parents varied in how and to what extent they were able to access outside resources (Kunzman, 2012). Bullock (2011) suggest s that the more experienced parents will access technology more readily than others. The parent who stated she was able to teach her child to collaborate and be a more self directed learner by using the computer is an example of someone more experienced wi th technology (Basham, Merrifield & Hepburn, 2007; Stevens, 2001). The parent who stated she had to get someone from their work to help her is an example of someone inexperienced with skills vary in this study. The intent of the e learning guide is to help all parents become more experienced in using technology to help their child, regardless of their perceived technology proficiency skills when beginning the program. Future revisions of the e learning guide will contain more explanations and examples to ensure that parents of all technology skill levels will find it helpful.
97 t echnology (Knowles, 1998; Norris, Simpson & Wilkinson, 2008). This is supported by b ut it may be limited to technology every day applications. For example, someone may use a computer at work, but they may only use one application (e.g., as an inventory). While they may be very proficient at that one application, they may not know how to d ownload and use other applications or how to apply social media for collaboration. Another possibility is that a parent may be very proficient in useful technology skills but not be aware of how to use these skills for teaching his/her child. The e learnin g guide the learning process. In addition, the expansion of the e learning guide to include students can serve as collaboration between parent and child, which will fur ther involve motivation of parental involvement is based in part on specific invitations from the learning guide addresses these two conditions. Parents are directly invited to participate in their learn because their perceived technology skills proficiency may i ncrease through the use of the e learning guide. Parental Involvement in the Ogburn School There are two theories regarding parental involvement that form the basis for encouraging participatory parental involvement roles in the Ogburn School. First,
98 home schooling and virtual schooling parents may play a more important parental involvement role than parents of students in a traditional environment (Russell, 2004). Tools such as the e learning guide help engage parents in the learning process along with the ir child. Second, Internet based communications can increase the frequency of communication and reduce barriers to parental involvement, such as work schedules (Bouffard, 2006; Mitchell, Foulger & Wetzel, 2009). The Ogburn School provides several methods o f two way communications through grading feedback, the message center, e mails, instant messaging, chats, Skype, telephone and postal mail. Each of these technologies helps facilitate a supportive and participatory parental involvement role by providing pa of this study, the Ogburn School plans to provide additional and ongoing training for parents on using technologies so they will frequently reach out to the school and become more If parents are not comfortable with technology, they may not perceive it as easy to use even if they do perceive it as valuable to their child (Saade & Bahli, 2005). In the interviews, when parents discussed the skills they learned and how they used those skills, they did not always state they thought the skills were easy to use; they used technology because it was necessary to help their child. Parents stated they completed the lessons becau se they needed to do so, indicating that the e learning guide helped them recognize the importance of helping their child successfully complete their coursework. This aligns with research by Knowles (1990) and Merriam (2001), who state that adults are goal oriented in their learning. Future e learning guides will provide
99 consistent instructions for learning technology skills to help parents become comfortable with using technology to help them reach their goal of helping their child academically. Lin (2011 ) stated that users must perceive the technology as a good fit in order to learning guide and to include students in using the guide indicate they think that learning these technology skil learning guides may Incorporating parent feedback into revisions of the e learning guide will help create activities that a re relevant The intent of the e learning guide is to help parents perceive technology skills as easy to adapt and a good fit so they will access the guide regularly i n order to help their will become a more participatory parent. This will enable students to spend more time on active learning activities, such as researching, creatin g and reflecting on their learning, which is a focus of the Ogburn School curriculum. included in the e learning guide. To do this we will expand our data gathering from the tec hnology skills requests to other categories. For example, provide additional training for parents on data they can access on the learning portal. Although this information is currently available to parents on the learning portal, we still receive phone cal ls and message center requests from parents on how to view or print grade reports. This represents one type of information that could be included in the e learning guide to increase parental participation and support for their child. Identifying the techno logy
100 skills to target for future e learning guides is an important step in helping parents view technology as easy to use, a good fit, and a valuable tool for teaching their child. Discussion of the Results Summary This study answers the research question: How does the use of an e learning guide that emphasizes the use of relevant web based technology resources affect the 6 th 8 th grade virtual homeschool environment? Outcome s indicate that the e learning when they participate in relevant activities that help them effectively use technology ss. This is signified by the increase in the mean responses on the pre and post technology skills surveys and the would recommend the e learning guide to others. Response s from parents indicate they thought the technology skills were valuable, although not necessarily easy, and their goal of helping their child was the reason for their involvement. The design of future e learning guides will emphasize technology instructio n that results in the user learning skills they perceive as easy as well as useful, so they will regularly apply technology effectively in homeschooling. Changes for Future Design and Use of the E learning Guide at the Ogburn School The purpose of the e l earning guide is to provide instruction and practice for the learning coach (parents) on technology skills relevant to the middle school curriculum at the Ogburn School. This study indicates the e learning guide had positive outcomes for increasing parents e learning guide pilot was successful for its intended purpose. In the study, the
101 e learning guide was limited to 6 th 8 th grade parents because it was offered electronically for the fir st time. Future e learning guides will include all students in grade K 8. Although the indications are that the e learning guide fulfilled its intended purpose, looking more closely at participant responses provided additional insight into several areas fo r improvement that are described in this section. Revision of the E Learning Guide Using the design based research process, the outcomes of this study were analyzed to understand what worked best for the participants in the e learning guide, as well as what was not useful. Using the survey and participant log data as well as the feedback from the participant interviews, I determined which activities were or were not valuable to the users. I also used these tools to identify problems and redesign the decided how to better design and deliver the e learning guide and who should be included as a participant in addition to the learning coach (parents). Student Participation In reviewing the activities and submissions, it became apparent to me that student s were participating in the e learning guide activities along with their parents. This issue highlighted an opportunity for increased effectiveness. That is, future e learning guides will be expanded to include student participation and not focus exclusive ly on the learning coach (parents). Students may be better served if they complete the e learning guide themselves with support from their learning coach (parent), just as they do in the academic courses. Future e learning guides will include K 8 th grade s tudents as well as the learning coaches (parents). Parents will continue to participate and provide support as the primary learning coach, but students will be an
102 equal participant in the e learning guide activities. This ensures that both student and lear ning coach (parent) have the skills necessary to complete the activities required in the academic program in the Ogburn School. Relevance of Technology Skills The e learning guide activities will be continuously monitored to ensure lessons reflect the high er level technology skills required in the updated academic lessons. E learning course designers will be aware of any revisions to academic activities and ensure those skills are reflected and evident in the e learning guide. Helpdesk requests will still b e monitored to identify relevant skills to include in the e learning guide. The message center will also be monitored for relevant questions from participants concerning the e learning guide or other technical issues on the learning site. Using both the he lp desk calls and the message center will increase the likelihood of identifying all issues that students may have pertaining to technology. As the e learning guides become available to students at primary and middle grades, the level of technology skills may differentiate as well, with a higher level of technology skills required for 6 th 8 th grade students that align with the higher academic requirements. For example, while a 6 th grader may need to know how to download and open Adobe Reader to read pdf fil es, a 7 th grader may need to know how to download Adobe Reader and also edit the pdf files. An 8 th grader may need to know how to download Adobe Flash Player and create a video in Adobe Flash Player format as an assignment submission. These are simplified according to student abilities, but they illustrate how the e learning guide may be differentiated for students.
103 Discussion Forums During my reflections on the effectiveness of the e learning guide, one question emerg ed concerning the discussion forum tasks. As evidenced by the system log data, the discussion forums were the least accessed of all the activities in the modules, even though the participant feedback indicated a positive response to sharing and collaborati on among other homeschooling families. This seems like a conflict, because the forums were presented as a place to ask questions or to share information. The lack of postings may indicate several conditions: (a) participants had no questions to ask pertain ing to the discussion board topic, (b) participants did not feel they had pertinent information to share with others, (c) the forum was not user friendly, or (d) the assignment was not pertinent to their learning. The discussion boards will be revised to i learning. Future discussion forums will include a required posting on a specific task that is more closely aligned with the learning objectives. Optional Resources that were not aligned with the e learning guide. One example is a request for learning to create videos and another was that students need to learn typing. These suggestions do not align with the technology skills topics identified as relevant for the e learning guide, but the feedback is still valuable. I wanted to create a way to include their request in the e learning guide without straying from its original intent. One sol ution is a simple design addition of an optional resource area on the student learning site to provide access to information on additional technology based skills. Participants could access this resource area as desired, but this would not be a requirement This is an example
104 of how I gathered feedback and additional information on the intervention strategy (the e learning guide) and used that information in the revision process. Format of the E learning Guide Through the ongoing process of monitoring the e learning guide activities, I reflected on some of the issues that arose for participants. Throughout this reflection I kept notes on some of the most important issues and developed a short list of the primary changes I believe may improve the e learning guide. First, providing the e courses before students begin their lessons may not be the more optimal format. Embedding the e learning guide and resources into the introduction of a content area co urse, or grade level (e.g., 6 th grade), may be better for parents and students. This way, if a participant needs information on how to perform a task, the link will be readily learning guide activities will be added to grades K 8 and placed as the first activity in their academic program instead of a separate course. Second, the course design will be more flexible, with revisions made as needed to accommodate the changing needs of the participants. This design will be more immediately responsive to necessary edits or changes. This is more easily accomplished if the e learning guide activities are embedded within each grade level instead of as one separate course. Formatted in this manner, each e learning guide in each grade level can be revised according to student needs. As the e learning guide is expanded to all grade levels, the technology needs and skill levels may vary. For example, a 5 th grader may require a different modeling explanation than an 8 t h grader for a lesson or activity. Embedding the activities in each content area course (grade
105 level) will allow individual editing without revising the activities for all students. It will also provide easier access to the e learning guide resources witho ut having to exit the academic course to enter the e learning guide course. This will be more time effective for participants. Third, the e learning guide will not be provided to the parent in isolation without including their child. It was mentioned previ ously that I believe both parents and students were involved in completing some of the e learning guide activities. This leads me to believe it should be a family activity, encouraging collaboration between parent as the learning coach and his/her homescho ol student. During the design review and revision process, each e learning guide activity will be evaluated for succinct language, flow, and length to ensure that all tasks are ess in courses at the Ogburn School. By using the design based research process, the e learning guide becomes more relevant to the learning coach (parent) and the student by providing easier access to resources and differentiated technology based activitie s for each grade level. Limitations Participation was limited to the parents of 6 th 8 th grade students enrolled at the Ogburn School who were identified during the pre enrollment interview as reluctant homeschoolers. The data collection instruments were d esigned to reflect the knowledge necessarily the technology skills needed for purposes outside of this setting. The time frame for parents to complete the e learning guide activi ties was two weeks from the
106 There are factors that may limit the transferability of this study to other settings. The self reported data utilized in the study cannot be independently verified. The small sample size of the specia lized population, the parents of 6 th 8 th grade students in the Ogburn School, makes it unclear if the results would generalize to other similar or dissimilar research studies. This study was conducted over a short time period, which provided a snapshot of the conditions during that time period. A longer period of time may produce different results. Researcher involvement may also present a limitation. As the co founder and current Instructional Program Director, I am involved in the decision making process as well as day to day operations. Steps taken to address these threats include recording interviews, member checking, and a researcher log. These steps help ensure the study was valid for its intended purpose, which was to increase the perceived technology skills for the parents of 6 th 8 th grade students enrolled in the Ogburn School. Implications The findings in this study lead to implications for future research, virtual school practices and for the Ogburn School. This section discusses those implications Implications for Future Research Wood (2005), states that virtual schools often provide mandatory professional development training to the online teachers. In the Ogburn School, the parent serves as the teacher and learning coach. Since the homeschooling parent serves as the primary teacher, providing the opportunity for professional training is applicable. Professional easily addressed through the use of technology (Fitzg erald, Ostrom, RiCharde, & Velasco, 2006; Skal Gerlock, 2012). E learning can assist homeschool parents in
107 providing an education for their child that is consistent with the best practices in education (Edelson & Arnold, 2009). Providing the opportunity fo r parents to learn more about the best teaching strategies and technology use may increase their ability to teach their child. The purpose of the e learning guide is to provide an online, structured training opportunity for homeschooling parents because th success. The results of this study indicate that h omeschool ing parents will use t echnology to connect with other homeschooling parents, get advice, and share experiences when they possess the technology skills to do so. The positive responses also indicate that parents are willing to participate in training that may help them better teach their child. Further research on a broader scale is needed to determine if creating structured technology training for homeschooling parents on utilizing technology experience. Implications for Virtual School Practice According to Basham, Merrifield and Hepburn (2007), the Internet has increased the development of social media connections and teaching resources for homeschooling parents. Many parents use social media, but perhaps they do not always know how to use it be nefit their child in online schooling. Virtual schools should provide information for parents on how to better utilize social media to support their child in online schooling because using the Internet and social connections may help parents identify addit ional resources available to them (Steinmeier & Yoon, 2010). Current education (The Center for Public Education, 2011). Furthermore, parental involvement
108 is important to studen t success in both traditional and non traditional school environments (Liu, Black, Algina, Cavanaugh, & Dawson, 2010). However, a high level of parental involvement does not always correlate to high student success (Borup, Graham & Davies, 2013). Grant (20 09) stated that parental engagement differs from parental involvement (attending school functions and meetings) and defines parental often correlates to higher academic ac hievement (p. 4). Given this difference, it would education. Even so, a high level of engagement may not correlate to high achievement if the parent is not able to properly activities. This suggests that virtual schools should provide appropriate resources beyond basic e mail and telephone communications for homeschooling parents that promote active and successful parenta l engagement. This could be accomplished in several ways. Informational resources could be posted and made available to parents through a parent portal. Chat rooms could be created as a place where parents can gather and post questions of a virtual school representative or other parents. Training materials, similar to the e learning guide, could be made available for parents to access as needed in order to learn how to use the resources that are provided to them. Newsletters could include information on how to access and use the online resources that would help parents assist their child. An online help request system could be developed for parental may not be mandated by virtual schools, it is recommended that resources be
109 recommended that the use of these resources is monitored to help determine which are the most helpful to parents. However resources are developed and delivered to parents, it is important that resources are topical, easy to access and expeditious to This study emphasizes the need for parents to possess the foundational technology sk ills required for virtual learning so they can better teach and assist their child. An institution that provides a homeschool program in a virtual environment should identify parents that need additional support, and then provide that support in ways that most benefits the parent and their homeschool student. Implications for the Ogburn School This study highlighted ways that the Ogburn School can help parents become and students in developing their skills, the parents and students carry the primary responsibility for learning. Whether intentional or not, homeschooling parents take on a resources that will help them better teach their child. The Ogburn School provides information and access to resources but also carries the responsibility to help parents learn how to best utilize these resources. The e learning guide is one tool to help parents best utilize technology resources. The development of the e learning guide reflects an attempt by the Ogburn School to develop a resource for inexperienced homeschooling parents that will increase the technology skills needed by their child to be successful in the Ogburn School. Outcomes suggest that the e learning guide meets its intended purpose because the
110 pre and post technology skills proficiency increased after using the e le arning guide. In considering learning guide is a successful intervention strategy, but it should be continually reviewed for effectiveness. The e learning guide activities w ill be monitored for relevancy and the One example of an update is moving the e learning guide from a separate course to embedding it in the orientation lessons for all grade levels. This w ill make it easier to differentiate for the varied student levels and abilities. Another update is making the activities available for students as well as parents so that parents are not completing the activities in isolation. This may help the parental in volvement roles become more supportive and participatory. The technology skills included in the e learning guide will be under ongoing review and added to learning activities as appropriate. For example, some students are requesting help with Google Chrome and the iPad. Optional resources that students may want to utilize could include creating videos, podcasting, or typing. The e learning guide was initially developed as an intervention to assist parents of 6 th 8 th grade students teach their child how t o better use technology in their academic studies. Through the three iterations of the e learning guide design, other emerging parents to a component of the course introduct ion for all K 8 th grade students in the Ogburn School. Continued analysis of feedback and reflection is needed so that future e learning guides are continually updated, ensuring that activities are current and topical
111 hool should continue to build on the idea that parents and students can benefit from additional assistance in areas outside academics. Conclusion This study demonstrates that the technology training provided by the e learning guide may help increase the perceived technology skills in the targeted population of parents of 6 th 8 th grade students enrolled in the Ogburn School. This is a proactive approach intended to help parents and students become familiar with the skills needed for the online activities in the academic courses. The Ogburn School will continue to include the e learning guide as embedded activities within content areas. The e learning guide should not focus exclusively on parents but expand to include all K 8 parents and s tudents of the Ogburn School. Although the e learning guide was initially developed to there is evidence that it helped parents and students better utilize technology for hig her academic achievement in the online environment of the Ogburn School.
112 APPENDIX A INITIAL PARENT INTER VIEW QUESTIONS 1. Have you homeschooled your child before? If yes: What grade level? How long? 2. Why have you decided to homeschool your child at this time? 3. How long do you plan to homeschool? 4. Has anyone recommended homeschooling to you? (e.g., family, friends, school personnel, case worker, etc.) 5. How do you expect homeschooling to benefit your child?
113 APPENDIX B HELP DESK REQUESTS A NALYSIS Help Desk Request Analysis Date: July 2010 June 2012 Total calls 2113 Monthly average 88 24 months Daily average 4.4 20 days per month for 24 months # of requests for each problem Problem Solution 1 359 The lesson document won't open Download latest version of Adobe Reader 2 301 I don't have Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to complete the lessons Download and install OpenOffice.org 3 279 I didn't get the document you were supposed to send me in my e mail Open and save documents attached to an e mail 4 255 I don't know how to submit the assignment Attach and upload lesson documents 5 201 I can't insert an image into the submission box Save, then copy/paste into the submission box 6 181 I can't send you the signature documents through e mail Send attachments through e mail 7 170 I did my work on another computer and now the file won't open Save as: RFT, pdf, Word, Works, WordPad 8 161 I can't find any information on the assigned topic Conduct a subject specific internet search 9 149 I did an Internet search but can't find the pages I used for resources Favorites, bookmarks 10 57 Other (lost use id/password, refreshing browser, assignments missing, scanning documents/images, searching for documents) Total 2113
114 APPENDIX C TECHNOLOGY SKILLS PR E AND POST SURVEY Technology Skills Survey ID: ______________ Use the ID assigned to you. Gender: Male Female Ethnicity: Caucasian Black Hispanic Native American Asian Highest degree received: High School Associates Specialists Bachelors Masters Grade level of homeschooler: Choose all that apply Grade level Number of students Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Location: United States List State ________ Outside US List Country of Residence ________
115 Instructions: Select the statement to indicate your level of confidence in performing the technology skills. 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 3= I can do this with help from someone 4= I can do this very well by myself 1 2 3 4 1. Download and install the latest version of Adobe Reader 2. Identify, download and install a Microsoft Word compatible program (e.g., Lotus Symphony) 3. Attach documents to an e mail message 4. Download, open and save documents sent as attachments to an e mail 5. Upload documents through an online learning portal 6. Insert images into a lesson document and upload for submission 7. Use an Internet search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo) to find primary sources of information on the Internet that I can use in teaching my child 9. Save documents in formats so that others can read them if they have different word processing programs (e.g., saving Word, RTF, or pdf) 10 Use technology to collaborate with the school, other homeschool parents or students (e.g., wikis, blogs, newsletters) 11 Please list any technology skills that you would like to learn that will help you homeschool your child Thank you for your participation in this survey.
116 APPENDIX D END OF COURSE INTERVIEW Please answer the following questions as honestly as possible. Your answers do not 1. How did the e learning guide affect your ability to instruct your child? 2. How was your experience using the e learning guide? 3. What did you not like about using the e learning guide? 4. In what other technology areas do you feel you could use assistance? 5. Would you recommend this e learning guide to other homeschool parents? 6. Please add any additional comments you like. Thank you for your pa rticipation in this interview. Your input is valued and will be used to improve the e learning guide. If you have any questions please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
117 APPENDIX E PARENT FEEDBACK ON E ND OF COURSE INTERVI EW Five parents of currently enrolled students were asked to review the interview questions and make suggestions. The survey was e mailed and parents were asked to respond by e mail within five days. Four parents responded within the requested time frame. The ir responses are entered in red. My thoughts are in blue. My final thoughts are to keep the interview questions as written but note in the interview notes if I had to elaborate on the questions. Please answer the following questions as honestly as possib le. Your answers do not 1. How did the e learning guide affect your ability to instruct your child? I do think this phrasing is better. While the original seems more academic, the second is more people friendly. 2. How was your experience using the e learning guide? Did you use the guide? How did you use the guide? Did you use the guide during the course? I think that since this will be a telephon e interview, these suggestions are good for follow up to elicit a more detailed response, but only the second suggested question encourages an open ended response. 3. What did you not like about using the e learning guide? Please explain what you did not like about the guide. In writing, the original version may be misleading. If a person is reading quickly he or clarified easily. 4. In what other technology areas do you feel you could use assistance? What other technology skills should be included in the guide?
118 APPENDIX F TECHNOLOGY SKILLS SU RVEY PRE AND POST SCORES COMPARISON 1. Download and install the latest version of Adob e Reader Pre Survey Post Survey Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 5.2% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 5.3% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 18.4% 16.7% 4= I can do this very well by myself 71.1% 83.3% Other (please specify) 2. Identify, download and install a Microsoft Word compatible program (e.g., Lotus Symphony) Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 5.2% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 13.2% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 34.2% 16.7% 4= I can do this very well by myself 47.4% 83.3% 3. Attach documents to an e mail message Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 2.6% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 2.6% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 25.6% 21.2% 4= I can do this very well by myself 69.2% 78.8%
119 4. Download, open and save documents sent as attachments to an e mail Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 7.7% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 0.0% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 17.9% 23.5% 4= I can do this very well by myself 74.4% 76.5% 5. Upload documents through an online learning portal Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 12.8% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 5.2% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 33.3% 33.3% 4= I can do this very well by myself 48.7% 66.7% 6. Insert images into a lesson document and upload for submission Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent what this means 17.9% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 5.2% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 25.6% 33.3% 4= I can do this very well by myself 51.3% 66.7% 7. Use an Internet search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo) to find primary sources of information on the Internet that I can use in teaching my child Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 0.0% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 0.0% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 5.3% 11.1% 4= I can do this very well by myself 94.7% 88.9%
120 8. Save documents in formats so that others can read them if they have different word processing programs (e.g., saving Word, RTF, or pdf) Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent means 10.3% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 7.7% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 41.0% 33.3% 4= I can do this very well by myself 41.0% 66.7% 9. Use technology to collaborate with the school, other homeschool parents or students (e.g., wikis, blogs, newsletters) Answer Options Response Percent Response Percent this means 5.1% 0.0% 2= I know what this means but I cannot do it 2.6% 0.0% 3= I can do this with help from someone 30.8% 27.8% 4= I can do this very well by myself 61.5% 72.2% 10. Please list any technology skills that you would like to learn that will help you homeschool your child Answer Options Response Text Anything that will help Anything I am going to take a tutorial to get myself more efficient. Typing would benefit More info on programs
121 APPENDIX G INTERVIEW CODES Parent Interviews ______________________________________________________________________ Interview Questions/Themes Codes and Sub codes ______________________________________________________________________ 1. How did the guide help you teach your child? Theme: Teaching Applications Created web pages and blogs Learned more about using e mail Downloaded free software such as Adobe Learned about compatible software Saving files in different formats Learned about computer hardware Learned more terminology Collaboration Home school friendly websites Discussion forums I was able to teach my child collaboration 2. How was your experience? Theme: Experience Positive Tough but informative Easy to navigate We liked the reference information It was good practice It should be expanded Negative Tough Too easy Hard to follow Too long Our child thought it was not necessary Hard to follow at first but good information 3. What did you not like about using the guide? Theme: Dislike Technology Tech Support It was too technical I needed more tech support
122 More tech support in the beginning needed Hard to understand the technical part Not enough information on computer hardware Format Hard to follow at first I would change th e order Content Not enough free programs Too much on Internet Needs more explanation mails More definitions in first part More MS excel formulas 4. In what other technology areas could you use assistance? Theme: Suggestions for Additions Multimedia Create videos, blogs, wikis Use Google chat, not the school chat More like Excel Skills Kids need to learn ty ping More Internet Safety 5. Would you recommend the e learning guide to other parents? Theme: Recommendations Yes (15) No (3) It took too long child 6. Please add any additional comments. Theme: Comments I thought I knew more than I did I had to get someone from work to help me I wish we had textbooks
123 APPENDIX H REFLECTIVE JOURNAL S AMPLE 11/2/12: Talked with 40 prospective participants in the past week. All are agreeable, but I wonder how long it will take to get the paperwork back. Not long I hope. All is sitting 11/8/12: Received 19 cons would be the hardest part. Not really. Will send messages today to remind others to send forms ASAP. 11/10/12: Reading over the guide, found some changes I would like to make before we get starte something. anymore. Anxious to get started with this group. 11/15/12: Opening day. Only two surveys completed. No topic responses submitted yet. Some clicking around the topics, though. Message sent welcoming all again and requesting to please complete the survey first. 11/20/12: Submissions are coming in. Most do not write anything in their e mails, j ust something. 11/27/12: No messages since last week but lots of submission today. Holiday over. 11/28/12: Discussion forums are not being used. I started each one b ut no responses. Perhaps directions are not clear on how to do it. Will send a broadcast message about this. 11/30/12: Lots of images embedded in e mail and documents. About 50/50 whether they send photos of themselves or stock images. I like it when they send photos of the kids. I always want to know more about the students. I forget sometimes this guide is for parents. Not used to that. 12/3/12: Four have finished the topics. I am going to try and interview them quickly. 12/5/12: Six more said they co mpleted but I asked them to be sure and take the post survey. 12/6/12: Ten completed so far. What could make it go faster and easier? Discussion forums are not being used.
124 12/7/12: Getting closer to holidays and I think that is affecting the submissions Too many other responsibilities. Three more completed. I will try and pin down the interview dates tomorrow. 12/9/12: Taking a sneak peek before the week starts. Looking ok. Started slow but picking up speed now. Fourteen completed. Need to send another message to remind all to complete the post survey. So far there have been very few help requests. Maybe that means the directions are good? 12/11/12: Eighteen completed. I am thinking there have not been very many requests for help during the course. The most requests have been about the login. Seems they are going to the high school site and not the middle school. There is a direct link in their welcome e mail. It needs to be more clear. th then I will just count those out and open the courses for those kids. Deadline reminder sent. 12/13/12: Twenty push them but the longer they wait the harder it will be to get it all together. Next time I do anything like this I will know better than to have anything during the fall holidays. 12/14/12: Twenty eight! Sending a message reminding the last few to complete. One y submission that was fun scrolling down to read any information, just clicking on the assignm ent tab on the left, only the submission boxes. This needs to be added to the introduction. I wonder how many students in the regular courses do that before they figure i t out? 12/14/12: Mystery solved about going to the wrong site. Some read their e mail on their found the school in their online search. We need to think about that and ho w we can be them in. If it only happens to two out of ten students, that is still 20% at frustration level Thirty
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145 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Minnie D. Ogburn obtained her Bachelor of Science in marketing from Jones College at Jacksonville, her Master of Administration from Central Michigan University, and her Educational Specialist from University of Florida. Her experience includes 25 years as an educator, mathematics coach, and curriculum coordinator in Florida public schools. She currently serves as Instructional Program Coordinator at the Ogburn School.