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Discussion

This study examined how nine instructors taught the same course with the same textbook and online resources. The study revealed a range of strategies the participants used in teaching, and their levels of technology integration. All of the participants had adopted the online version of the text with the expectation of offering the students its rich array of resources. However, for a variety of reasons, the majority of the instructors were not able to use those resources fully. The goal of this chapter is to examine the reasons why.

The major factors in determining how instructors used the online materials provided with the textbook fell into five basic categories which emerged from the data:

  • The teaching environment,
  • Pedagogy,
  • Levels of technology integration,
  • Barriers, and
  • Career stage and age.

Each of these themes is explored in depth in separate sections of this chapter. The teaching environments varied greatly, depending on the course format. For those who taught online or hybrid courses, the website for Online Day served in large part as the teaching environment. The instructors’ pedagogy was examined to determine how they taught, to what degree they integrated technology, and barriers they encountered in using technology. The final section on career stage and age brings attention to common characteristics of technology integration the instructors shared at different stages of career development. The participants’ experiences will be related to existing literature on distance pedagogy and learning theory.

The teaching environment

Although each instructor had a unique teaching environment, several shared environmental factors that influenced how they taught: the Online Day software, the course format and classroom location, and university policies and practice. In this section each of these factors are examined to determine how they influenced the instructors’ implementation of the innovative technology.

Online day

The publisher of Online Day, Houghton-Mifflin’s Lahaska Press, took one of its popular college textbooks to prototype in a unique format: an e-textbook combined with in a web-based proprietary course management system, with added media content such as videos, an in-text audio glossary, PowerPoint slide shows, and an online test bank. To create such a product, Lahaska contracted with an educational technology company, Intellipro, to turn the Day textbook into an online course.

Carrie, who was proficient in using WebCT, found the structure of the educator’s interface confusing when setting up her course:

For the instructor, it’s kind of, even though it’s very doable, but it’s almost like having to work in two classes, because you go into your managed class and create your assignment. And then you have to go into managed course, and then you enter the class to add the assignments, I believe that’s what it is. So it’s almost like the instructor has to operate in two classes.

In Carrie’s example, it’s clear that both the terminology and the functions on the instructor’s main navigation page were not clear to her. Splitting the functions into two categories added to the time it took her to learn how to navigate the course set-up.

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Source:  OpenStax, Faculty use of courseware to teach counseling theories. OpenStax CNX. Oct 14, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11130/1.1
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