Date of Award

12-2002

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Education

Major Professor

Blanche O’Bannon

Committee Members

Don J. Dessart, Sharon L. Judge, John R. Ray

Abstract

This study examined the effects of a supplemental online discussion module prior to face-to-face training. Specifically, it investigated the impact on teacher preparedness, discussion and collaboration in the face-to-face training, and the amount of knowledge gained from the subsequent training.

Two groups of special education teachers received twenty hours of face-to-face training in the use of assistive technology. For four weeks prior to then training, both groups had access to online simulations, resources and materials.

The Treatment Group participated in a four-week supplemental online module. Weekly topics focused on a specific disability, and included online simulations, resources and assistive technology information related to that disability. Participants were required to complete a simulation, select one item from the variety of resources, and participate in an online forum to discuss these resources. Discussion questions encouraged participants to reflect on their current teaching practices and the weekly materials.

The Control Group was provided a website with the same simulations, information, and resource materials included in the online module. They were encouraged to use the website to prepare for subsequent training, but had no specific assignment or direction.

Data from pre/post-training questionnaires, written responses to openended questions, and observation of participation in group discussions during face-to-face training were analyzed to determine differences in the groups.

Findings revealed that both groups indicated a similar increase in knowledge and use of technology as a result of the training. However, several differences were apparent. The Treatment Group found the online simulations and materials valuable and informative, shared them with others, and used these resources in their own training. The Control Group did not rate online resources as highly, and did not access these resources prior to training. Participation in group discussion during the subsequent face-to-face training was markedly different, with 80% of the Treatment Group participating, compared to 44% of the Control Group. Finally, the Treatment Group expressed a greater increase in confidence in using technology to help students achieve curriculum standards.

Conclusions of this study suggest that an online discussion module can play an important supplemental role in preparing teachers for subsequent faceto- face training.

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