What I have been reminded of in the course of preparing my final research proposal has had to do with a content area I like least: Math. When I was in high school, I hated math. Hated, hated, hated it. In part, it was because I had a couple of math teachers who convinced me I was terrible at it (or I allowed them to make me believe it, I guess). I made it through an entire four-year B.A. program in college without ever having to take a single math class. Whenever there was a "take this or this" option for my degree requirements, i always took the "or" class if it meant I could avoid math. Then, in graduate school, I was out of opt-outs and had to take a math class. And...I liked it. I got it. It made sense. Also early in my grad program was a statistics class that I was certain I would fail...but I kind of liked that, as well. It made sense because I was ready. It feels good when the brain is ready.
I have struggled like crazy with my research proposal in exactly the same way I struggled with math: I had convinced myself I just couldn't do it, After attending the 2014 iNACOL Symposium in California last week, I was finally cognitively ready to finalize the proposal. I knew which questions to ask; I knew what I really wanted to know; I had more information about what still needs to be learned about online learning. Developmentally, I was finally cognitively equipped to get it done...and feel good about it. This afternoon, with all of my notes and materials from iNACOL spread out across my desk and visible via a patchwork of browser windows on my computer monitors, the proposal came together. Thank God. I actually feel like my proposal has the potential to make a difference in terms of research related to online learning in rural Alaskan high schools...and that feels pretty darn good. The proposal itself is available here with "comment" rights. Feel free to comment away.
The e-learning lab mentors at our three schools are aware of the research project, and they are waiting for the green light so they can start encouraging students to complete the 31-question survey. I anticipate it will take students approximately 15 minutes to complete, and I hope to have at least 20 students participate. Follow-up interviews will occur after Phase One data has been collected. To maintain anonymity on the Phase One data, students interested in providing more information via an interview will be asked to sign up with their e-learning lab mentors. I will choose from the list of those willing, with an attempt to choose a cross-section of "types" of students to represent the various schools, genders, grade levels, etc. Fingers crossed all will go as planned!