Understanding teacher use of the Internet as a new learning and teaching tool

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Donald J. Leu


Teacher, Learning, Teaching, Internet use, Professional development

Subject Categories

Education | Instructional Media Design | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This study explores one teacher's use of the Internet technologies as a tool for instruction, following one middle school teacher with little Internet experience over the period of one academic year. It analyzes the ways this teacher makes sense of Internet technologies within the context of her professional beliefs and practices in the classroom.

The study uses the qualitative methodology design of a study of a single case (Bogden & Biklen, 1992; Stake, 2000). Data are collected through field notes from participant-observation, interviews, reflective journals, printed Internet documents, and Internet exchanges. The data results are presented as a three layered analysis: a descriptive account of observational data about the teacher, her practices and her professional environment; a chronological account of the teacher's journey over the period of the academic year; and an exploration of the central themes that emerged from the data.

The results of the study provide descriptive insight into how a teacher learns to understand and use new instructional technologies, such as the Internet. Her experience aligns with adult learning behaviors and research from the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) project. She goes through significant stages from initial enthusiasm and discovery, to a period of conflict, which leads to critical reflection on the Internet as a tool for her classroom. Finally, she comes to terms with her misgivings and develops ways to use the Internet, which parallel models of use by other teachers. Significant categories of emergent themes include: the teacher has specific needs and conditions for learning the Internet; the teacher uses the Internet in defined ways; the teacher experiences a learning process; and the teacher learns within her community.


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