Title

Perspectives and practices of expert teachers in technology-based distance and distributed learning environments

Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation

Keywords

Expert teachers, Distributed learning, Technology-based learning, Distance learning

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Instructional Media Design

Abstract

This study sought to examine the multiple perspectives of six expert teachers in technology-based distance and distributed learning environments (TBDDLE). Its specific focus has been on how expert technology-based distance teachers conceptualize and organize online courses including their teaching philosophies, perspectives on learning and instruction, orientation to technology, models of technology-based distance teaching, and self-assessments. With the rapid growth of the Internet, the Web has become a powerful medium of teaching and learning at a distance which changes the scope and the competencies required of teachers. Yet little is known about the perceptions and practices of expert teachers who instruct in a variety of TBDDLEs. This study focuses attention on the perspectives of a selection of expert practitioners to understand their teaching experiences and recognize the teacher's salient role in a TBDDLE. An agenda-analytic approach was used to construct case studies of the six experts' experiences. Data gathered and analyzed over a period of seven months included e-mail, face-to-face, and phone interviews as well as articles published by the interviewees. This study reveals that all six experts shared a common goal for teaching in this environment-- student engagement --essentially creating engaging and meaningful learning environments for the learners. Teaching in a TBDDLE is a complex process for the teachers posing numerous challenges at the institutional, instructional, and personal levels. The six experts saw the benefits of teaching in this environment for themselves and for their students; nevertheless, each discussed some barriers that sometimes made the teaching experience challenging. Personalization of instruction, capability to use a variety of evaluation instruments, methods to have positive student engagement, and so forth are vital to further the quality of online education. The experts have clearly articulated that lack of trained faculty is an important dimension. Considering the complexities of teaching in an online environment, it is imperative to embrace standards espoused by professional organizations such as ibstpi and provide structured training for online instructors. The study concludes that teaching in a TBDDLE is a complex task that requires a great deal of planning and preparation on the part of the teachers.

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