I was asked: "I would like to read some of the literature in the field and would welcome any suggestions you may have for significant papers?"
My response, others welcome:
Well, if you're thinking about online learning, even as a small part of your curriculum ideas, then I think you need to study Internet in society foremost. This focus will help you devise relevant and engaging curriculum that uses the Internet - rather than struggle to shape it to resemble established educational practice.
Michael Wesch is an anthropologist at Kansas State University. He won professor of the year in the US in 2009, and was asked to give a lecture to the US Library of Congress. He gave, An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube - where Youtube is his most successful publishing outlet. This is a 1 hour presentation and gives excellent insight to the most used information and communication channel on the web.
Relating more to the practice of teaching, and the complex challenge of working out how or what to teach online, and what to teach face to face and other ways, in 2005 Doug Brent published a paper through First Monday, Teaching as Performance in the Electronic Classroom remains insightful in my opinion.
Returning to an attempt to establish a more appropriate understanding of information, communication and learning in the age of the Internet, take 4 minutes with Wesch again - The Machine is Us/ing Us.
And if you're curious for an accessible political perspective, try the article Webism: Internet as a Social Movement, at the n+1 journal.
As you can probably tell, I avoid "Education research" literature. I find it consistently out of touch and questionable in methods and outcomes. Primarily because it almost entirely focuses educational practice within intensely contrived settings - our schools and institutions. This bias causes it to miss almost all the more interesting knowledge spaces that have emerged and since dominated our culture. Wikipedia for example: 5th most used website in Australia and the world, THE most used reference text, 297 languages, almost entirely ignored if not actively avoided by formal education. (accept our very own Mark Gussy :) Here's a link to my own blog where I comment on this problem.
Networked Learning is a theory I've focused on these past 10 years. I am an active editor of the Wikipedia entry for it. You might find it and it's discussion page of interest.
Finally, I am trying to establish an online community of practice to support inquirers like you and Mark David. Teachers of Health Professionals. I realise this type of professional development is foreign and even irksome for most in our faculty, but if only 10% find it useful, that use will transfer knowledge into more established forms of PD, such as staff rooms, emails and 1 hour meetings. I've posted this email to that forum, so it is not only in our email boxes.