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American Higher Education in Crises book cover

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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Discipline, Culture & Design: The Convergence of Pedagogy, Decision, and Practice

Dana Bryant (Emory University, USA)
Jaclyn Conner (Emory University, USA)
Stephanie Parisi (Emory University, USA)
Roxanne Russell (Emory University, USA)
Additional Authors
Felicity Walsh (Emory University, USA)
Johnny Woods (Emory University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 1:45pm
Learning Effectiveness
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Blended Program/Degree
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

A collaborative research study analyzing online course design in multiple disciplines in higher education

Extended Abstract

We are in a transitional time for online learning at traditional higher education institutions- passing from a period of majority resistance to online learning and into a period of either acquiescent or enthusiastic acceptance of online learning as an inevitable disruption to traditional practices (Selingo, 2013). During the period of resistance, faculty across disciplines argued that online learning might be suitable for other disciplines, but certainly not their own. Now that generational, social and economic drivers are forcing more higher education administrators and faculty into adopting online or hybrid learning practices, faculty who viewed this mode as ill-fitted to their disciplines seek guidance or experiment with ways to find a fit for the pedagogical imperatives or preferences of their disciplines. As online instructional designers supporting these faculty efforts, we seek frameworks and methods for acknowledging and designing for the specific disciplinary needs of faculty.

Yet, online learning design decisions related to disciplinary idiosyncrasies have only been empirically examined in the instructional design literature anecdotally. Tessmer and Richey (1997) acknowledge a content culture to characterize teacher's instructional beliefs, but do not offer guidance on characterizing the dynamics between disciplinary pedagogy and online learning design decisions.

The purpose of this presentation and qualitative case study is to identify the complex dynamics of disciplinary culture at work in online learning design decisions across 5 professional schools at Emory University by applying Young's (2009) Culture-Based Model as a theoretical framework and taxonomy for description. Findings from this study can inform the practice of instructional design for online learning by identifying patterns of similarity and difference across disciplines for best practices, tool choices, interactive strategies, materials development and assessment.

Attendees will learn about the complex dynamics of disciplinary culture in online learning design decisions in the disciplines of law, business, nursing, theology, and graduate humanities.