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“Everybody is their own Island”: Teacher Disconnection in a Virtual School  Abigail Hawkins, BYU; Michael Barbour,WSU; Cha...
K-12 online learning....Really?                                   States with virtual schools/online                      ...
Research Question1.   How do teachers perceive     their role as online     teachers?                    3
Background Literature   Relative little research in K-12 virtual schooling   Shifting teacher roles                   Da...
The CaseUtah’s Electronic High School…   Oldest and largest in U.S.   Singular in nature       Self-paced       Supple...
Dimensions of EHS                    None
Completion Rates: All enrollments                  35                  30                  High attrition rates           ...
MethodsComponent          DescriptionParticipants…      8 teachers                   4 disciplines (Math, Science, English...
Findings: Teacher Roles                      9
Disconnection from students   Well the difference with them again is: I see    them; I interact with them; I shake their ...
Disconnection from profession   ….a lot of the times the role you just    get to grade the papers. And then just    answe...
Disconnection from peers   One thing that I like is about    teaching in the classroom is I    get to know faculty, and y...
Implications for Practitioners1.   Create a space in the LMS     for non-academic interactions2.   EHS model limits teache...
Future Research   Do students feel that the    lack of interaction is    detrimental like teachers    do?   Do students ...
Questions                       Abby Hawkins      Sr. Instructional Designer, Adobe Systems Inc                abbyhawkins...
References   Davis, N. (2007, November). Teacher education for virtual schools.    Unpublished manuscript. Paper presente...
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SITE 2011 - “Everybody is their own Island”: Teacher Disconnection in a Virtual School

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Hawkins, A., Barbour, M. K., & Graham, C. (2011, March). “Everybody is their own island”: Teacher disconnection in a virtual school. A paper presented at the annual conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, Nashville, TN.

Virtual schooling is a recent phenomenon in K-12 online learning. As such, the roles of the online teachers are emerging and differ from those of the traditional classroom teacher. Using qualitative interviews of eight virtual high school teachers, this study explored teachers’ perceptions of their online teaching role. Teachers expressed a sense of disconnection from their students, the profession, and their peers as a result of limited interactions due to significant institutional barriers. Researchers discuss the implications of this disconnection as well as future avenues for research.

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SITE 2011 - “Everybody is their own Island”: Teacher Disconnection in a Virtual School

  1. 1. “Everybody is their own Island”: Teacher Disconnection in a Virtual School Abigail Hawkins, BYU; Michael Barbour,WSU; Charles Graham, BYUSITE 2011
  2. 2. K-12 online learning....Really? States with virtual schools/online initiatives, full-time programs, or both 2,000,000 students Kindergarten > HS 1997: 3 States 2010: 48 States Keeping Pace with K12 Online Learning, 2010 2
  3. 3. Research Question1. How do teachers perceive their role as online teachers? 3
  4. 4. Background Literature Relative little research in K-12 virtual schooling Shifting teacher roles Davis (2007) Ferdig et al. (2009) Teacher Teacher Designer Course Facilitator Site Facilitator Instructional Designer Local Key Contact Mentor Technology Coordinator Guidance Counselor Administrator 4
  5. 5. The CaseUtah’s Electronic High School… Oldest and largest in U.S. Singular in nature  Self-paced  Supplemental (primarily)  Open-entry/open-exit model High student-to-teacher ratios Diverse curriculum and student body Webcam 5
  6. 6. Dimensions of EHS None
  7. 7. Completion Rates: All enrollments 35 30 High attrition rates 31.1 25 % completion 20 19.8 15 10.5 11.3 10 5 0 2005 (n=802) 2006 (n=4493) 2007 (n=32,065) 2008 (n=47937) years
  8. 8. MethodsComponent DescriptionParticipants… 8 teachers 4 disciplines (Math, Science, English, Social Science) Equal class sizes (62-985 students) Avg. years teaching F2F: 18 Avg. years teaching online: 6.9 Part time (exception 1 full time EHS employee)Data Collection… Case method Intensity sampling (high and low completion rates) Semi-structured interviewsData Analysis… Theme analysis Constant comparative method 8
  9. 9. Findings: Teacher Roles 9
  10. 10. Disconnection from students Well the difference with them again is: I see them; I interact with them; I shake their hands; I know their name; I know their face. A lot of them I know their sad story behind some this. At EHS you just can’t do any of that. It’s nameless. It’s faceless.  Brian, Science Teacher 10
  11. 11. Disconnection from profession ….a lot of the times the role you just get to grade the papers. And then just answer questions. But as far as like being, I almost want to say a mentor because you can see that student you can talk to them right then, it is definitely different that way. Almost like, here’s professor’s assistant. Here is a bunch of papers, and you just kind of grade it.  Carl, Science Teacher 11
  12. 12. Disconnection from peers One thing that I like is about teaching in the classroom is I get to know faculty, and you get to bounce off a lot of ideas and things on them. And I don’t notice that with EHS. I don’t feel like I am necessarily a part. I just feel like this little individual who is doing their little thing.  Mark, Social Science Teacher 12
  13. 13. Implications for Practitioners1. Create a space in the LMS for non-academic interactions2. EHS model limits teacher role. Allow for more quality and frequency of content- based interactions3. Create a space for a virtual staff room for teachers 13
  14. 14. Future Research Do students feel that the lack of interaction is detrimental like teachers do? Do students feel a role change and fragmentation in online learning like teachers? 14
  15. 15. Questions Abby Hawkins Sr. Instructional Designer, Adobe Systems Inc abbyhawkins7@gmail.com Michael Barbour Assistant Professor, Wayne State University mkbarbour@gmail.com Charles R Graham Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University charles.r.graham@gmail.com
  16. 16. References Davis, N. (2007, November). Teacher education for virtual schools. Unpublished manuscript. Paper presented at the annual Virtual School Symposium, Louisville, KY. Retrieved from http://ctlt.iastate.edu/~tegivs/TEGIVS/publications/VS%20Symposium200 7.pdf Ferdig, R. E., Cavanaugh, C., DiPietro, M., Black, E. W., & Dawson, K. (2009). Virtual schooling standards and best practices for teacher education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 17(4), 479-503.

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