The relative value of online learning environments as perceived by high school teachers
Online learning environments have become more popular for use in education from year to year. This medium for teaching and learning has been successfully used in higher education for years. Only within the past decade has this instructional platform made its way into the P-12 arena. With the expansion of online learning environments becoming more popular, this type of lesson delivery may eventually make its way to the building or site level. As in a face-to-face classroom, teachers have an effect on the success of the students. The perceptions of teachers regarding dimensions of implementation and use of online learning environments could determine its success or failure. The purpose was to determine the perceptions of two groups of high school teachers, those who are teaching or have taught using an online learning environment and teachers who have never taught using an online learning environment. A questionnaire, developed by the researcher, posed questions that revealed demographic data, selected instructional elements, course composition elements, student support elements, and administrative support elements. Data were collected from one 158 teachers who responded to the online survey. These current practitioners throughout Mississippi public schools and the Mississippi Virtual Public School (MVPS) elected to participate with superintendent and director approval. The researcher-created Online Learning Questionnaire included demographic questions for all respondents. Teachers who taught using an online learning environment responded to only six of the 10 demographic questions. No statistically significant differences were found between the two groups of teachers in their perceptions of selected instructional elements, course composition elements, student support elements, and administrative support elements. A statistically significant difference was found between the two groups of teachers in their perception of class load. Online teachers indicated little need to restrict class load while face-to-face teachers tended strongly to believe that class load should be restricted. It was conjectured that this difference could be related to the fact that online teachers are typically compensated according to the number of students completing their courses. There was no statistically significant relationship found between the demographic information provided by the two groups of teachers and perceptions of online learning. The online teachers answered by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, relative to the face-to-face teachers, that they had taken an online class.