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Back in January I started working on a research project with my advisor and an on-campus peer. The focus of the research project is to compare an online version and an on-campus version of the same graduate course (taught at the same time and by the same professor). My advisor was the professor for the courses, the other RA was in the on-campus course at the time, and I was in the online course at the time. So we all have a somewhat “emic” view of the Fall 2006 course.

The on-campus RA conducted and transcribed 12 face-to-face interviews and transcribed three class meetings. I conducted and transcribed 9 phone interviews (using Skype & Pamela), transcribed three teleconference meetings, and organized three weeks of discussion board postings. The data has been collected and consists of 21 interviews and all of the course communications (class meetings, discussion boards, and teleconferences) for the same three weeks in the course. We have A TON of data.

We have weekly teleconferences between the three researchers, we email almost daily, and we have a secure online site where we share our collaborative documents and files. The entire process has been really interesting for me and I think it’s very fitting that I am an online RA for this particular project.

We have all of our transcription finished now and we are moving into the analysis phase. Our presentation on our research has been accepted at the 2007 AAA Meeting in D.C.. We will be doing a presentation about how our findings will be applied to the UNT online master’s program. We hope to find ways in which the online program can be improved upon to make the experience similar to that of on-campus. The goal of that program has always been to offer a master’s degree and graduate experience that is comparable with that of an on-campus degree. The fact that our findings will be applied really shows UNT’s dedication to the online master’s.

I don’t have any findings that can be reported yet, but we’re making good progress thus far. We have a lot of people interested in the project- so that’s very exciting for us.