Evaluating Online Learning: Challenges and Strategies for Success
July 2008

Distance Learning

International Society of Technology in Education

The International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) is a nonprofit organization with more than 85,000 members. ISTE provides services, including evaluation, to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership through the use of technology. In 2007, ISTE published a comprehensive overview of effective online teaching and learning practices, What Works in K-12 Online Learning. Chapter topics include virtual course development, online learning in elementary classrooms, differentiating instruction online, professional development for teachers of virtual courses, and the challenges that virtual schools will face in the future.

The North American Council for Online Learning

The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) is an international K-12 nonprofit organization focused on enhancing K-12 online learning quality. NACOL publications, programs, and research areas include the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses, National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, state needs assessments for online courses and services, online course quality evaluations, online professional development, virtual education program administration, funding, and state and federal public policy. In addition, NACOL has published a primer on K-12 online learning, which includes information about teaching, learning, and curriculum in online environments, and evaluating online learning.

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory/Learning Point Associates

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) was a federally funded education laboratory until 2005. Learning Point Associates conducted the work of NCREL and now operates a regional educational laboratory (REL) with a new scope of work and a new name: REL Midwest. NCREL publications about online learning are currently available on the Learning Point Associates Web site, including A Synthesis of New Research on K-12 Online Learning (2005), which summarizes a series of research projects sponsored by NCREL and includes recommendations for online research, policy, and practice.

Southern Regional Education Board

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is a nonprofit organization that provides education reform resources to its 16 member states. The SREB Educational Technology Cooperative focuses on ways to help state leaders create and expand the use of technology in education. SREB's Web site provides the Standards for Quality Online Courses and Standards for Quality Online Teaching. In 2005, SREB partnered with the AT&T Foundation to create the State Virtual Schools Alliance, to assist SREB's 16 member states to increase middle- and high-school students' access to rigorous academic courses through state-supported virtual schools. Through AT&T Foundation grant funding, the alliance facilitates collaboration and information and resource sharing between states in order to create and improve state virtual schools.

Star Schools Program

The Star Schools Program, housed in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement, supports distance education programs that encourage improved instruction across subjects and bring technology to underserved populations. Information about the program and its evaluation is available on the Department of Education's Web site. The Star Schools Program is funding this guide.

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Last Modified: 10/20/2009