8.16 Using eLearning Systems to Scale-Up Educational Research
Course management systems (CMS) play a critical role in supporting learning and teaching in online degree programs and virtual high schools, as well as augmenting traditional classroom environments. Simultaneously, they provide a tremendous amount of system data about user activity in online spaces, and a unique technology for collecting custom educational data asynchronously and confidentially. From highlighting diverse instructional strategies to elucidating student evaluation practices, CMS can help researchers understand the processes by which learning happens in both online and offline environments. This paper will detail an innovative course management data collection project called the Networked Education Database (NED). As part of NED, during the 2006-2007 school year, 732 students and 19 teachers in 37 classrooms across three secondary schools will be using their school's e-Learning system to submit anonymous socio-metric, social psychological, and student performance information, longitudinally, to a central database. The paper will report on the logistical issues in operating a networked data gathering system, as well as the results from the pilot data collection activities.