The Getting Online (GO) research team began carrying out research in the summer of 2007 to explore what was happening in online learning in both the Canadian literacy community and in the broader education sector. The team developed a six question survey that was approved by the Research Ethics Board of Athabasca University. Along with the survey, the GO team conducted extensive Internet and print-based research to identify organizations that were involved in online learning from all regions of Canada, that represented different sizes and that offered different types of online learning. Along with sending surveys to these organizations, the research team also conducted key informant interviews and held several focus groups.
As a result of this research, the GO team received 84 survey responses from Canadian literacy organizations, and 43 surveys from organizations in the broader education sector (college, universities, not-for-profit organizations and schools). GO researchers also held 23 key informant interviews with literacy practitioners, and 19 interviews with other organizations. In addition, two focus groups were held (one in Ontario and the other in Newfoundland).
The following questions were asked in the surveys and explored in-depth during the key informant interviews and focus groups:
- What online or distance tools or methods do you presently use for your own or for staff training, professional development or support?
- What are the objectives or purposes of the online or distance practices you presently use?
- What results, good or bad, have you obtained with your online or distance learning or support practices, and how did you determine this?
- Do you find online or distance training or support methods produce different results from face-to-face methods or strategies? If so, what are the differences?
- How were online or distance training or support methods or tools introduced? Did the introduction go smoothly?
- What future do you see for the use of online or distance training or instruction, support or professional development methods in your organization?
In the following sections, we will explore the GO research findings. You can find A Research Report on Online Learning for Canadian Literacy Practitioners at www.nald.ca/gettingonline/goreport/goreport.pdf or you can link to it through the GO Resources module on this website.