K-12 Online Learning: Trends From Two Decades of Scholarship

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Graduate School of Education


In this study, we examined the research literature in the field of K-12 online learning to identify the leading scholars, journals, top-cited articles, research methods, and topics in this field of inquiry. Our research process involved first, collecting a corpus of journal articles focused on K-12 online and distance learning; second, categorizing these articles according to their research methodologies; third, analyzing trends not only in methodologies employed, but also in authorship, citations, journals, and topics addressed. In analyzing 356 articles, we found the field of K-12 online learning to be growing rapidly in recent years with acceleration not only of new articles, but especially of new authors. We also found that the field of K-12 online learning began primarily emphasizing theoretical articles, but is now maturing and emphasizing increasingly more data-based articles. We found K-12 online learning scholarship is scattered among many journals, providing rich opportunities for scholars while also making it more difficult to discern trends across the discipline. This makes literature review and meta-analysis papers particularly important in this domain, and these should continue to be encouraged.

Publisher's Statement

The original material can be found here: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/182962/