Changing course: early childhood development faculty experiences transitioning from traditional to asynchronous online teaching

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration


Department of Educational Leadership


Advisor: Darla J. Twale


This case study examined the experiences of five Early Childhood Development (ECD) instructors at a small public, liberal arts university in the Northwest as they transitioned from teaching in a traditional face-to-face baccalaureate degree completion program to teaching in an asynchronous online degree completion program. Data were collected during the 2010-11 academic year, the first year of the fully online program. Meeting minutes, observation notes, transcripts from semi-structured personal and focus group interviews, and program-related documents were analyzed using Miles and Huberman's (1984) methodology of simultaneous activities of data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verification. Findings revealed that the instructors' experiences during the transition to teaching in the online program were akin to flying the plane while building it." Four themes emerged from the study and were organized around the metaphor of journey to a foreign land: (a) We can't get there from here; (b) Where is the GPS? (c) When in Rome...; and (d) Do we need a passport? The five instructors in this study left the familiar for the unfamiliar and discovered that teaching online was different from teaching face-to-face and that traditional techniques did not transfer directly to the online classroom. The instructors reported that online teaching felt different and led to student and instructor role changes. Lack of institutional policies and administrative processes for online teaching created more challenges and required more time than traditional teaching. Finally, instructor socialization and professionalization contributed to a disruption to what the instructors had learned and valued as professors of early childhood education. Understanding the experiences of faculty during the transition to online teaching is essential to the development of institutional policies, administrative processes, and systems which accommodate the differences between traditional face-to-face and asynchronous online modalities. The results of this study point to a need for institutions of higher education to discard traditional understanding of teaching and learning and engage in dialogue around the broader implications of online education before implementing new online programs. The results also suggest that systems thinking may be advantageous for supporting the current shift toward online education and to establish a more agile institutional infrastructure to keep pace with rapid changes of the 21st century."


Distance education Study and teaching Case studies, Teacher educators Case studies, Education, Higher Computer-assisted instruction, Education, Higher Effect of technological innovations on, College teachers Case studies, Higher education administration; faculty experiences; online courses; distance education; asynchronous online education; teaching and learning; faculty development; online higher education administration; transition to online; early childhood education

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