Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Andrea Kayne, JD

Abstract

In March of 2020, schools were abruptly forced to close their doors for in-person learning due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Schools quickly adjusted to online learning in order to continue educating students. This was a drastic change for both teachers and students, and hugely impacted all stakeholders. The purpose of this study is to identify key components of a K-8 eLearning program and offer best practices recommendations for implementing an effective eLearning program based on data collected from St. John the Evangelist School (SJE) and existing literature. It can be used as a guide for K-8 administrators in developing eLearning plans for schools. SJE is a private school in an affluent community in northwest Indiana. The student population is >80% White, and <10% of students are on free and reduced lunch. A triangulation approach was taken in collecting data from SJE through analyzing survey data, document reviews, and focus groups. Through examining the data collected and existing research, key components of eLearning were identified, including communication, engagement, technology, and supports. Based on these key components, the following recommendations were made. Communication among all stakeholders is important in an eLearning program. Communication should be frequent, simple, and familiar. Ongoing communication is recommended between home and school for the purpose of sharing updates, expectations, and feedback through written and video messages. Strong engagement is a key component in an effective eLearning program. This involves a balance of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students should participate and engage with one another during online learning. Developing and nurturing strong relationships between home and school is recommended. Teachers should make learning fun through incorporating students’ interests into lessons, and use engaging teaching practices and strategies. The effective use of technology is critical in eLearning. Adopting a universal learning platform for teaching and learning is recommended. The number of tools and resources should be limited, and utilizing familiar resources is ideal. Technology should be used as a driving force to engage students and enhance learning. Supporting teachers, students, and families is important in an effective eLearning program. Collaboration and communication are recommended. Teachers and administrators should promote healthy practices and check in on the wellbeing of the students and staff. Clear content and technology supports need to be provided. The school staff should meet with students synchronously on an individual and small group basis. Providing a manageable workload is a best practice recommendation in an eLearning program. The focus should be placed on assigning meaningful work rather than busy work. Utilizing creativity when developing school schedules and being open to making changes is key. Modifying school schedules can create a more manageable workload for students through the adoption of block scheduling. In identifying these key findings and offering best practices recommendations for eLearning, K-8 schools can develop and implement effective eLearning programs. Furthermore, this study can help guide schools in creating a plan for emergency online learning due to a public health crises or other disaster in order to preserve the health and safety of all and/or allow for continuous learning if school buildings are unavailable.

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