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New research unit wins first grant, names faculty fellows

Initiatives focus on research in online education, build on Ecampus’ reputation

The eight inaugural Ecampus Research Fellows stand and sit together in the Student Experience Center.

These eight Oregon State faculty and staff members are the inaugural members of the Ecampus Research Fellows Program. From left to right: Andrew Olstad, Kathy Becker Blease, Ping-Hung Hsieh, Xiaohui Chang, Mary Nolan, Brenda Kellar, Stephanie Jenkins and Karen Thompson. (Photo by Melissa Whitney)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is advancing its commitment to online education with a new research unit that aims to meet university and national needs related to online teaching and learning.


Tyler Hansen


Katie Linder

The OSU Ecampus Research Unit is designed to create an accessible and inclusive online learning environment for Oregon State students and others. Last month the research unit received its first national grant and named eight OSU faculty members as its inaugural research fellows.

“Research about online education at this stage in higher education still has a lot of gaps. There are many questions remaining about different technologies and how they impact student learning,” said Extended Campus research director Katie Linder, Ph.D. “The goal of these new initiatives is to ignite some excitement among faculty in a more collaborative fashion and answer those questions.”

The research unit builds on Oregon State’s reputation as a national leader in online education. OSU Ecampus is ranked fifth nationally for online bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report and delivers more than 40 programs at a distance.

But Internet-based learning is still in its infancy compared to brick-and-mortar education, and Extended Campus executive director Lisa L. Templeton sees this as an opportunity for the university to perfect its online delivery methods.

“Oregon State is in a position to build a robust research pipeline that ultimately will improve the access and quality of online teaching and learning for our adult learners,” Templeton said. “It will allow the university to expand its reach even further and give students more opportunities to succeed.”

The grant from The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) is a joint endeavor with other universities. The study will investigate college students’ experience with video captions and determine the impact of captioning use on student learning in a college-level, fully online environment.

“We’ve made some assumptions on how caption use will impact student learning but haven’t necessarily gathered evidence that tells us there is a connection,” Linder said. “The grant allows Oregon State to engage in a community of researchers to try to figure out the connection between online learning and student engagement, motivation and how to do online learning well.”

The Ecampus Research Fellows Program builds on the university’s reputation as a national leader in online education; OSU Ecampus is ranked fifth nationally for online bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report. The fellows program funded five research projects that will be conducted by eight OSU faculty and staff members:

The five projects received approximately $100,000 in funding from Extended Campus and are a precursor to several national studies the new research unit plans to launch early next year.


About Oregon State University Extended Campus: Extended Campus provides learners around the world with access to the university’s academic excellence through online and on-campus programs, open educational resources and research endeavors. Oregon State Ecampus delivers more than 40 degree programs online to learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. OSU is consistently ranked among the nation’s best providers of online education.