This dissertation explores the lived experiences of educators who teach in flex model blended learning settings using online, vendor-provided courseware. The tradition of hermeneutic phenomenology grounds this inquiry (Heidegger, 1927/2008). Phenomenological research activities designed by van Manen (1990, 2002) provide the methodological framework for this study, the purpose of which was to uncover the essence of blended learning from the educator perspective that it might inform policy and practice to better serve the needs of all students as this form of education becomes increasingly popular.
The study included in-depth interviews with seven blended educators across five different blended programs using three distinct courseware products in the state of Georgia. Three primary themes emerged: 1) Professional Preparedness, 2) Flexible Facilitation, and 3) Intentional Proximity. Participant educators were found to be highly educated in terms of multiple and advanced degrees, six of seven came to education as a second career, and each brings experiences from a variety of educational settings. These educators work to tailor the online courseware, provide supplemental instruction when necessary, and actively adjust to individual students' needs. Additionally, each works to build relationships with her or his students and strives to connect the curriculum to students' present lives and futures.
The essence as revealed is a multi-faceted and complex illustration of providing both structured guidance and independent autonomy to students in a small school blended setting. Findings are examined through the lens of distance education theory, and the literature of online and blended learning.
|Commitee:||Hollandsworth, Randy, Welsh, James B.|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Georgia|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Instructional Design, Secondary education, Educational technology|
|Keywords:||Blended learning, Facilitator, Flex model, Nontraditional education, Online learning, Phenomenology|
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