The use of distance
learning for course delivery in higher education in all disciplines has
increased over the last five years (Becker, 1999). Its use in teacher
preparation is occurring, in part, in response to the new U.S. Department
of Education Title II guidelines and state regulations for teacher licensing.
At the national level, Title II calls for the use and infusion of technology
as an educational tool to supplement teaching and learning and for the
provision of intensive and extensive field experiences for pre-service
teachers. Online instructional delivery is one model schools of education
have experimented with in response to this mandate for change. The adoption
of a web-based format for the delivery of course content supports the
provision of more intensive and extensive field experiences. Students
cannot be asked to spend large amounts of time in the field and still
meet the traditional seat time expectations.
However, the use of online course delivery in teacher education remains
controversial (Goldsworthy, 2000). Little data is available on the effectiveness
of online instruction in teacher preparation. This study will examine
the effectiveness of web-based strategies to enhance and supplement teaching
and learning in a mid-western teacher preparation program that offers
a major in elementary education (grades 1-6 or 1-8), a minor in secondary
education, and preschool/kindergarten certification as an additional 22-credit
minor. With funding from a 3-year FIPSE (Funding Initiative for Post Secondary
Education) grant, educators set out to convert the University of Wisconsin-Green
Bay's early childhood minor into an online, competency, and field-based
Information will be gathered on the technology-related problems and obstacles
encountered by faculty--and to a lesser extent students--in converting
and using web-based software. Additionally, this study will examine the
positive and negative outcomes of web-based course delivery, including
issues of instructional design, workload, interaction, competency acquisition,
and student learning outcomes. By analyzing and interpreting what did
and did not work in the use of online instructional delivery in this one
moderately sized teacher preparation program, we hope to contribute to
a collection of data on the teaching and learning outcomes of online instruction
in teacher preparation programs. Furthermore, it is the hope that this
study will serve as a resource for teacher education programs that wish
to develop online distance learning courses.
The standards-based education movement at the national, state, and local
level, has led to the emergence of standards in technology as well, and
educators are increasingly pressured to meet and/or address those standards.
From schools of education certifying future teachers to beginning and
veteran teachers in the classroom, the underlying mission is for teachers
to acquire the technology skills needed to create technology-enriched
learning experiences and enhance student learning. Accomplishing this
task requires educators to integrate technology throughout their curriculum
and use technology as one of many tools to achieve their goals. Before
educators can use instructional technology, they must learn to use it
comfortably, efficiently, and effectively; educators must become technologically
literate (Fulton, 1998).
Research has identified numerous knowledge, skill, and disposition components
that contribute to technology literacy (Odasz, 2000). Technology comes
in many forms, however, and to provide a focus for this review, only those
elements that researchers consider essential to build and reinforce a
solid foundation in technology literacy will be discussed: file management,
data entry, word processing, electronic mail with file attachments, Internet
use with search skills, menu and sub-menu comprehension, understanding
of OLE (object linking and embedding), importing and exporting, graphics
acquisition and management, and tables, graphs, and charts.
Web-based programs, such as WebCT, provide many features including a bulletin
board, chat groups, calendar announcements and scheduling, direct student
access to course notes and assignments, digital video and audio segments,
and quiz or assessment capabilities. One researcher (McKenzie, 1998) praises
WebCT's ability to monitor student hits, time in specific areas, and the
automatically generated histograms of each students progress in the web
course. Additionally, Odasz (2000) claims that one of the biggest advantages
of the use of WebCT is the ability to set the time allowed for the online
quizzes and the number of times that students could take each quiz (Stith,
Through quantitative and qualitative analysis, researchers (Dusick, 1998;
Goldsworthy, 2000) have established that educators must provide a solid
and reinforced foundation of technology literacy before they can successfully
integrate technology into the curriculum. A reinforced foundation of technology
literacy can be accomplished, but all methods are time intensive. One
method involves working independently and extensively with software and
hardware, until a competent level of understanding and use is acquired.
This method usually does not produce sustainable results unless the venture
is project-driven. Furthermore, unless a tutor or support person is available,
the venture is rarely successful (Shasek, 2000).
Technology comes in many forms, from computer, to scanners, digital cameras,
the Internet, and all kinds of software. Odasz (2000) states that these
powerful tools are what make distance learning so inviting and effective,
allowing students equitable access to quality learning experiences. Each
component and individual have unique learning curves, which leads to a
sense that learning with or without technology is overwhelming. However,
one researcher states that using the Web reduces the number of separate
components students need to learn, thus increasing the probability of
more time spent using the system for content learning (Zhao, 1998).
Faculty often find it daunting to produce lessons that fully integrate
technology. They make the mistake of thinking that an entire course must
be created from scratch and produced in its totality using technology.
Nothing is further from the truth: even a few lessons employing instructional
technology can positively supplement the current curriculum. A complete
program can be built over several semesters of commitment. Sims believes
that envisioning technology integration as a process--from the entry stage
where the decision is made to use technology, to the adoption stage where
instructors focus more on teaching and learning--is the key to success.
Additionally, McKenzie (1998) holds the view that confidence in one's
own ability to learn technology contributes to one's technological proficiency.
For many educators, technology integration starts in a local (non-web)
environment and then moves to web-enhanced, and finally web-based. Still,
for other educators it solidifies while taking their instruction to web-ready
Distance learning has a great deal of potential for all educators as a
tool to improve student learning (Shasek, 2000). The key is to begin,
to persist, and to learn from failures and successes (Setters, 2000).
According to Dusick (1998), "The value of integrating computers can
also be seen in student outcomes. For instance, in comparison with traditional
classrooms, well-designed computer-mediated instruction has been shown
to improve student scores, decrease learning time, and improve student
attitudes toward learning. As educators face the challenge of reforming
and improving traditionally based instruction, Cornell (1999) states,
"We have to make adjustments if any of us is to keep abreast of the
impact of the rapidly changing technologies which present themselves."
Our educational system demands that teachers at all levels become technologically
literate and teach students the curriculum through traditional methods
as well as technological methods with the ultimate goal of communicating
the subject matter and demonstrating authentic learning (Setters, 2000).
Many conditions support the need for distance learning. Increased numbers
of nontraditional students, longer commuting distances for students, and
the mandate to provide intensive and extensive field-based experiences
all result in decreased available seat-time and issues of accessibility
for students. Distance learning can provide students with the accessibility
and flexibility needed to participate in individual and group learning
experiences from their homes, job sites, and/or field placements. While
critics maintain (Mergendoller, 2000) that distance learning depersonalizes
the teacher/student relationship and limits the interpersonal interaction,
research has shown (Fulton, 1998) that online courses can be designed
to promote higher order learning such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Additionally, many researchers believe that web-based instruction fosters
teamwork and cooperative effort (Dusick, 1998).
With the growing national focus on lifelong learning, the facilitation
of learning can no longer be restricted to the classroom. The World Wide
Web, where the information super-highway can be used as a conduit for
collaborative learning, must be used to deliver instruction whether it
takes the form of a web-based asynchronous discussion forum or an electronic
reserve shelf (Cornell, 1999).
Several software packages written to take advantage of the hypermedia
profile common to the World Wide Web were available. Among these, several
were designed for general education purposes. From the variety of software
options available for education, this institution selected WebCT to translate
course material to web-ready form. WebCT could be downloaded from the
website at no cost and installed on the computer server where all of the
WebCT elements could be explored by participating staff. Some of these
elements included: (a) WebCT access from anywhere in the world using the
internet browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer, (b)
uploading of files of many types from remote computers, and (c) WebCT
course maintenance from remote computers. Additionally, users had the
ability to browse, download, and print assignments and other course material,
submit electronic mail within WebCT to other members and instructor(s)
of the course, and browse a calendar of events that they edit for their
own use. Students were also able to browse digital images, listen to audio
clips, and even view video clips. WebCT more than satisfied the on-line
learning strategies and outcomes identified in the research as needed
to effectively teach course content online.
The University, however, ran its computer operations under the Windows
NT version 4 environment and, at that time, would not support the Web-based
software, WebCT. Working collaboratively with the computer science department,
a powerful version of a Linux Operating system was installed on a medium
duty desktop computer that we purchased with grant funds. As is typical
with universities and IT departments, the non-windows operating system,
Linux, was under tight scrutiny with regards to security, reliability,
and performance, but the project was allowed to go forward. This computer
operated solely as the server for WebCT in the first semester of the project,
and was networked and accessed by all students registered in the first
web-enhanced early childhood course. Two additional education-based courses
would use WebCT the first semester, but only as a supplement to the traditional
delivery of course content. These challenges were minimized or eliminated
after the first semester with university conversion to the NT system,
and university-wide support for WebCT.
A standards-based curriculum with clearly defined competencies was then
designed to ensure pre-service teacher proficiency in all applicable standards
and content knowledge. However, the instructional design of a web-based
course differs substantially from that of a traditional course, and campus-based
expertise in instructional design did not exist. An outside consultant
was brought in for one day to provide training in instructional design.
An instructional technology specialist and member of the education faculty
was then identified to take the lead with respect to ongoing technology
issues and training. This faculty member had a solid foundation and background
in technology literacy, taught a major instructional technology course
that all education students were required to take, and had the expertise
for software and hardware training.
Along with Web-based software and instructional design issues came those
dealing with the generation and management of simple web page development
and the conversion of course documents to web page format. After testing
and analyzing the program, a list of tasks was generated that would need
to be accomplished before and after a web-enhanced course was set into
live status. Before the course goes live, electronic text files that were
formatted for HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) file type had to be created.
These files included course syllabi, assignments, articles to read, lectures,
and audio clips. Once formatted for HTML, the files could then be loaded
Effective integration and implementation of technology within a classroom
curriculum requires that instructors know and understand how to operate
the technology; proficiency in the use of WebCT should precede the facilitation
of student learning using WebCT. Thus, the instructors' inexperience with
WebCT made the transition all the more difficult. However, due to time
limitations with the grant, it was decided to move ahead.
Faculty then took on the challenge of converting traditional course content
and documents into HTML documents that would function in a web-based environment.
Throughout the process of preparing the courses for web-based delivery,
obstacles were identified in three major areas: converting electronic
course components from non-HTML form to HTML, converting hard copy course
components to electronic HTML documents, and local as well as network
file management. The conversion of the competency-based outcomes into
on-line "core" offerings was completed semester by semester,
and students began accessing the majority of their core content online
by the end of the second year.
This study utilized a variety of instruments designed to collect data
in the following areas:
a) student access
and completion rates (university statistics)
b) program design and delivery variables (see student and faculty course
evaluations, Appendices B, C, D, E, F)
c) technology proficiency and competency acquisition (see Appendix G)
d) competency acquisition, pre-service teacher survey (see Appendix
e) competency acquisition, teacher survey (see Appendix I)
f) performance based assessments measures (see Appendix J)
Descriptive data on
the number of learners enrolled in each course during the course of the
study and program completion rates were gathered from university statistics.
program design and delivery was analyzed with regard to variety, flexibility,
and effectiveness. Faculty were asked to record the variety of technological
components and strategies used in each web-based course offering. In addition,
faculty monitored the number of student training sessions required, the
degree of ongoing support students needed, strategies students and faculty
used to handle computer glitches, and adaptations used to address diverse
learning styles/needs. Faculty interviews were used to gather information
on problems/issues revolving around instructional design. Additionally,
student course evaluations required responses on design and delivery variables.
A variety of data was collected to determine changes in student learning.
Instruments used included pre- and post-surveys administered during each
course offering to measure changes in student technological proficiency;
CFU (Checking for Understanding) quizzes were administered three times
throughout each course offering, and course evaluations measured competency
acquisition. Student evaluations were completed after each course offering,
and final program evaluations were sent to pre-service students near the
end of their student teaching experience. Work samples linked to competency-based
rubrics and field-based evaluations were also used to evaluate changes
in student learning outcomes.
Pre-service and in-service teacher perceptions of program effectiveness
and competency acquisition were gathered and compared using survey data.
Pre-service teachers completed the survey during their student teaching
semester. The same survey was mailed to a random sample of 97 early childhood
professionals in the field who had not taken web-based courses. The perceptions
of pre-service teachers who had participated in the web-based teacher
preparation program were compared to the perceptions of the 97 teachers
already working in the field.
Access and Completion
The number of learners enrolled in each course during the 3 years of the
study almost doubled from the first to the second year of the project,
and returned to first year's levels during the third year of the project
(Table 1). University statistics indicated that all students who declared
early childhood/elementary education as their major and participated in
courses with web-based content delivery, graduated from the program and
were licensed to teach by the state, giving the project a 100% student
Program Design and Delivery
All instructors reported trying most of the components available within
WebCT (Table 2). No data was reported on adaptations for learning needs
or styles because of the absence of student requests. Instructors reported
problems with low student proficiency in technology, software incompatibility,
access to the Internet, limited student contact time, perceptions of interaction
or lack of it, lack of backup plans when the server went down, and frustration
in learning a new mode of content delivery. Strategies reported by faculty
to address these hardware and software issues can also be seen in Table
The percentage of
all respondents who agree/strongly agree with each of the course evaluation
questions regarding course structure and delivery variables can be seen
in figure 1a and 1b. Pre-service teachers in the web-based program had
significantly more negative responses in year 1 and 2 of the study. Chi-square
analysis at the end of the third year yielded significant improvement
in student ratings of these variables over all courses across the three
years of the grant at a .02 or higher of significance.
comments from faculty interviews, student course evaluations and program
surveys were coded and clustered to identify recurring themes and inform
program revision. The process of constant comparison was used to identify
and code the data (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992). Reliability checks (Miles
and Huberman, 1984) yielded a .87 agreement among four coders.
All instructors completed faculty interviews at the end of each semester.
Faculty commented favorably on:
a) the potential for
high-level interaction with web-based course delivery;
b) flexibility in delivery and access;
c) the support it provided for course related field-based placements.
Obstacles in the preparation of courses for web-based delivery (converting
electronic course components from non-HTML form to HTML, converting hard
copy course components to electronic HTML documents, and local and network
file management) were identified in year one and two of the project, but
not in year three. Other concerns expressed by faculty over the three
years of the project included:
faculty and student resistance to technology;
b) workload (instructional design, student contact, backup plans, communication
c) a lack of models to assess pedagogy;
d) the difficulties involved in scheduling and communicating with students
in the field;
e) the critical need for the mentor component and the lack of institutional
support for mentoring as part of faculty load;
f) a need for more training and support in online instructional design
and interactive strategies.
At the end of the
project, issues (a,b,c,e, f) continue to be reported as areas of concern.
Major concerns and issues, identified by students during the first, second,
and third years of the project can be seen in Table 3. In the first year
of the project, computer-related issues and instructor availability were
the most frequently reported student concerns. In the second year, instructor
availability continued to be reported along with scheduling field placements
and degree of mentoring support. By the third year, degree of mentoring
support was the most frequently reported concern, with concerns about
instructor availability and scheduling field placements decreasing in
Proficiency and Use
A chi-square analysis of the pre- and post-survey data on technology knowledge,
skills and attitudes over the 3-years of the grant, showed significant
gains for students across all areas and all courses (Table 4), at a significance
level of .02 or better. In addition, by the third year, 67% of Education
students reported having taken a web-based or web-enhanced course by the
second semester of their professional studies.
Student comfort levels
with technology, as well as their perceptions of success, as measured
by course evaluations, also increased significantly for all course offerings
across the 3 years of the grant (Figures 2a,b).
As discussed, there were significant increases in student learning in
the areas of technology proficiency and use of web-based tools. "Checking
for Understanding" (CFU) quizzes were taken online by students three
times during each course offering. Students had three opportunities to
reach 93%. Changes in average scores for all courses over the three years
of the project, and changes in the average number of times CFU quizzes
were taken were examined using 2-way analyses of variance (ANOVA). Results
were statistically significant (p< .02), with average scores increasing
each year of the project (Table 5).
Tukey-t indicated that significance could be attributed to the dramatic
increase in second year scores. Changes in the number of times CFU's were
taken were also significant (p> .027). A Tukey-t indicated that significance
could be attributed to a dramatic decrease in third year scores.
Survey responses asked teachers to indicate their agreement or disagreement
on a scale of four: strongly agree, mildly agree, mildly disagree, and
strongly disagree. Responses were coded and chi-square analyses done to
determine if there were any significant differences in pre-service and
in-service teacher perceptions of their teacher preparation programs.
There were no significant differences (p < .325) in the two group's
perceptions of the overall quality of their preparation. However, 94.4%
of pre-service teachers rated their preparation as good or excellent versus
78.5% of in-service teachers. Significant differences in perceptions of
competency acquisition were found in seven areas:
1) Knowledge of
cultural and linguistic diversity;
2) Cross-cultural learning;
3) Collaboration with diverse families;
4) Knowledge of resources and services for families;
5) Knowledge of assessment strategies;
6) Collaboration with colleagues;
7) Knowledge of major issues.
pre-service teachers rated their learning in these areas as good or excellent
than did teachers in the field (Table 6). Ratings by pre-service teachers
were also greater in (1) use of technology, and (2) strategies to facilitate
learning but did not reach significance.
assessments linked to competency-based rubrics and field-based evaluations
were also used to evaluate changes in student learning outcomes.
1997 to 2000, enrollment in early childhood courses increased, doubling
in size for many courses. From 1995 to 1999, the number of school districts
in the state of Wisconsin offering full-day kindergarten went from 119
to 191, an increase of 62%, while at the same time the number of districts
offering half-day kindergarten went from 247 to 150 a decrease of 61%.
Although these trends in kindergarten continued at the local and national
level and student demand remained high, student enrollments dropped back
to first-year levels due to university system-wide enrollment caps. Changes
in state licensing categories and regulations, however, are due to take
effect in 2004. These changes eliminate certification by grade level and
replace it with licensing in developmental categories. Early childhood
programming will no longer be offered as a minor to extend certification,
only as an Initial Licensing Category: Early Childhood Educator for ages
birth through 8 years. It is anticipated that this will have a positive
effect on early childhood enrollment numbers.
The early childhood student completion rate of 100% exceeded the university's
47% overall retention/graduation rate. This suggests that the project
model was not only successful in the area of teacher preparation, but
may also have contributed positively to student retention rates. Students
consistently commented favorably on course evaluations regarding the use
of technology to deliver instruction and facilitate remote online interaction
(flexibility and accessibility) and the opportunity to spend more time
in the field. Further research is needed to determine the weighted contribution
of each of these variables to any differences in retention rates.
According to Dr. A. Lee Fritschler, the U.S. Department of Education's
senior higher education official, the major force driving change in educational
systems across the nation is technology (FIPSE /LAAP Project Directors'
Meeting, 2000). Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications
of Public School Teachers, U.S. Department of Education (FRSS,1999)
reports that although educators in the field consider educational technology
essential for transforming education, only 20% report feeling very well
prepared to integrate educational technology into classroom instruction.
In addition, university faculty is reported to have not kept pace with
PK-12 practitioners in the integration of technology into classroom instruction.
Throughout the first semester, faculty and students in this project faced
numerous challenges including low student proficiency in technology, software
incompatibility, problems with access to the Internet, limited student
contact time, perceptions of interaction or lack of it, lack of backup
plans when the server went down, and frustration in learning a new mode
of content delivery. Many of these challenges were minimized or eliminated
after the first semester with university conversion to the NT system,
university-wide support for WebCT, and increased instructor experience
in managing a web-based course. Instructor skill in managing web-based
courses improved significantly over the three years of the grant, supporting
improved faculty learning outcomes. Pre-service teachers in the web-based
instructional delivery study showed significant increases across all areas
of technological proficiency, comfort level using technology, and perceptions
of technological skill. The use of web-based course delivery in the project
model strengthened the educational technology skills of pre-service teachers
and university faculty alike, skills that would allow them to participate
more fully in educational reform and the implementation of technology-enriched
Faculty interviews and open-ended response questions on course evaluations
identified areas of strength and areas of concern. Faculty and students
viewed flexibility in delivery and access positively, but perspectives
differed on the issue of self-responsibility. In some courses, students
needed to complete weekly assignments within a designated timeline in
order to participate in weekly chat or discussion groups. This requirement
was a mismatch for the traditional "cramming before the test"
model used by many college students. Faculty viewed this as an opportunity
for students to develop or strengthen personal responsibility skills,
but many students reported it difficult to adapt. Faculty additionally
reported that web-based course delivery had the potential for high-level
interaction, noting that there were opportunities for frequent feedback
and review via email, the bulletin board, chats, and quizzes. This gave
instructors the opportunity to track the cognitive processing and conceptual
development of all students.
Instructor availability, however, was the most frequently reported student
concern. Other issues were linked to instructor workload and university
resources and tenure issues which were out of faculty control. Student's
ongoing concerns support the need for a re-examination of faculty roles
and issues of workload, and the provision of more training in instructional
design with strong ongoing follow-up support. Researchers (Odasz, 2000;Clark
and Lyons, 1999) indicate that the most important role of the online instructor
is to model effective teaching strategies, accept the responsibility of
keeping discussions on track, contribute special knowledge and insights,
and coordinate various discussion threads within course components to
maintain group harmony. Unless these roles and their associated workload
issues are valued and supported within the merit and tenure process in
higher education, teaching and learning through an online medium will
not achieve maximum effectiveness.
The use of WebCT for course delivery also allowed for the provision of
relevant in-depth clinical experiences linked to each course in the early
childhood sequence. National school reform initiatives support the importance
of field-based experiences in providing exemplary models of best practice
in school-based settings, facilitating student integration of new knowledge
with what is already familiar and known (scaffolding), allowing students
to make choices about the information that has been presented to them,
and promoting performance-based applications to document learning outcomes.
Comments from students strongly supported the value of field-based opportunities.
The use of technology for the delivery of instruction, coupled with intensive
experiences in the field, supports teaching and learning as a collaborative
process in which pre-service teachers, students, classroom teachers, and
university faculty teach with and not to each other, providing mutual
support and constructive feedback that enhances learning outcomes.
Enrollment caps and resource issues prevented the establishment of a control
group for statistical analysis of changes in student learning outcomes,
and replication of the model using such a control group is needed. However,
student learning, as measured by competency acquisition and performance-based
assessments, was perceived as very positive by students and faculty alike.
Students demonstrated significant improvement on CFU's over all courses
and all years, supporting improved skills working in a web-based environment
and more rapid acquisition of course information and understanding. In
addition, significantly more pre-service teachers than teachers in the
field rated their learning as strong/ very strong in those competency
areas directly related to successful teaching in the diverse schools of
the 21st century: knowledge of cultural and linguistic diversity, cross-cultural
learning, collaboration with diverse families, knowledge of resources
and services for families, knowledge of assessment strategies, collaboration
with colleagues and knowledge of major issues.
Growth in metacognition
was strongly evident in the reflective comments and action initiatives
generated by students when using the Individual Learning Plans, and Learning
Experience Plans and Assessments showed progressive improvement across
the semester as supported by field-based mentor feedback and rubric-based
instructor evaluation. Clearly, the student comments (Table 7), testified
to the importance of students having opportunities to integrate their
knowledge, skills and dispositions into relevant applications with real
children in real classrooms and the success of the Collaborative Field-based
Online Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Model.
Table 7: Sampling of Student Comments
"The hands-on experience was the most I have gotten out of
a class in five years."
"Wonderfully exciting semester."
"It enhances my understanding of curriculum because I had
to think about different developmental levels and abilities in
children, working as a team, and providing beneficial materials
for learning experiences."
"Excellent! It was great to put what we've been learning
into practice, especially designing the learning center."
"Setting up learning centers gave me many ideas for setting
up a classroom. I have heard lectures and read about setting up
centers and labeling, but I have never had any experience with
"Wonderful, stupendous, fabulous, supercalifragilistic, expialidocious.
Handson was wonderful."
Despite recurring obstacles, the long-term positive outcomes far outweighed
initial concerns, and project results support online/distance learning
as a viable option for the delivery of instruction in teacher preparation.
Students and instructors alike reported flexibility in delivery and access
as a strength, and competency acquisition was not negatively affected
and, in fact, improved in a number of areas. Instructor feedback reported
that distance learning encourages students to take personal responsibility
for their learning, supports the development of time management skills,
facilitates high-levels of quality interaction with all students, and
provides opportunities for regular and frequent feedback and review based
on ongoing student processing. Additionally, this move to introduce technology
into teacher preparation served as a major catalyst for change in the
use of technology in the education unit and other units across campus,
in the level of support provided by the university, and, most importantly,
in the students' level of technological proficiency.
In light of these project results, the following recommendations are made
that have important implications for the future success of online learning
and teacher preparation.
- Institutional resistance
must be addressed and new faculty roles defined.
- Issues of workload
must be reexamined within the existing "course-for-credit"
structure of higher education.
- Universities must
provide strong, ongoing training and support for online teaching.
- If student learning
is to become performance-based in intensive field settings, a mentoring
component must be established along with online course delivery. It
is a critical component.
- A variety of "models"
for providing mentoring support need to be explored with our community
partners, beginning with a redefinition of "teaching" across
all educational systems.
LIMITATIONS / FUTURE
This study suggests strong benefits from the use of distance learning
in teacher preparation. However, resources prevented the establishment
of a control group to compare learning outcomes. Replication is needed
using a larger sample and an experimental /control group methodology.
A cross-sectional design and stratified sampling would be able to address
socioeconomic, gender, and ethnic differences. Additional data needs to
be gathered on the long term effects faculty perceptions of learning success,
as well as changes in workload and merit/tenure policies on campuses using
distance learning. Furthermore, research should address the differences
between rural and urban students relating to technology literacy.
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