Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Education

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

With the expansion of higher education and the growth of online course offerings in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a critical need to support faculty in developing the necessary skills to teach effectively online. The purpose of this qualitative, single-case study was to examine the nature of the discourse in which faculty members engaged within a virtual community of practice that was created to support their instructional design and online teaching efforts. The community of practice framework and the related learning theories of situated learning and social constructivism served as the underpinning of this study. The E-Learning Program was facilitated via Moodle over the span of six weeks within the context of a community of practice. Participants were engaged in various activities including reviewing materials regarding instructional design strategies, designing instructional activities, engaging with colleagues in discussion forum activities, submitting self-reflection activities, collaborating with colleagues on a group project, and creating a final portfolio. Data were collected from discussion forum responses, self-reflection submissions, and semi-structured interviews, which were conducted after the program concluded. A key finding reveals that participants developed expertise in online instruction and confronted their misconceptions or preconceived notions and concerns regarding online teaching and learning. Additionally, culture played a significant role in the way participants provided and perceived feedback, collaborated on activities with colleagues, and in the way they maintained a supportive and harmonious learning environment. The interconnectedness and communal relationships that existed in the community of practice provided a pathway for knowledge sharing and capacity building across the institution. Implications for creating and facilitating communities of practice are discussed along with recommendations for future research.

Committee Chair

MacGregor, Susan Kim

Available for download on Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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