1 Capella University (UNITED STATES)
2 Adult Learning and Leadership Consultant (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2091-2097
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
As educational innovators, our goal working at a Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation was to determine ways to leverage and scale expert faculty presence and enhance student learning by conducting one course simultaneously in two uniquely different learning environments, one online and one traditional. The notion of achieving scale and using technology to enhance expert faculty presence is a disorienting concept for many faculties.

The problem is that little research is available on replicating real-time facilitator-led learning in more than one delivery format. There is little-known about designing a robust learning environment that supports the traditional onsite class while simultaneously delivering the content equally well over the worldwide web. This is a disorienting concept which is coupled with another disorienting concept for faculty that believes that their presence and persona will be compromised in this virtual environment.

The paper addresses taken-for-granted assumptions about fixed truths about faculty persona and presence; the long held believe that faculty must be physically present in a traditional classroom setting. To leverage faculty presence and scale the course is to provide access for an online cohort. Therefore, the two faculties in this study were asked to teach a course simultaneously in a traditional classroom and an online synchronous classroom using Adobe Connect. One Faculty expressed the belief that the faculty’s presence would be seriously compromised. When first presented with the proposal to develop the program for the worldwide web, the Faculty requested time to reflect on this proposal because it was disorienting. There was an expressed belief that faculty persona and teacher presence were likely to be compromised in the virtual environment. The Faculty was concerned about the personal reputation risk of an experiment with technology.

This paper explores the lived experiences of how the process of transformative learning occurred as faculty beliefs transformed from the time of the initial agreement to participate in a pilot project to the completion of the two day course. Adult educators can be placed in the role of transformative learners (Cranton, 1994. p. xiii). The questions asked in the study were: How did faculty teach discussion in a traditional classroom environment? What was different in the new blended environment? Did faculty beliefs change in any way as a result of this new experience? This study applies Transformative Learning Theory to faculty presence in a blended learning environment. By using Transformative Learning Theory one faculty was able to reflect on and express long held beliefs and then gauge the benefits and challenges associated with them in a new collaborative educative experience in a blended environment that incorporated high quality virtual classroom.

By engaging in critical reflection and discussion with the Faculty over time, an accurate and new in-depth understanding of the experience unfolded. Critical reflection, questioning of underlying assumptions combined with peer collaboration with a colleague sharing in the new experience helped to reorient Faculty’s perspective and fostered transformative learning.

Cranton, P. (1994). Understanding and promoting transformative learning. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, Inc.
Transformative learning, blended environment, Adobe Connect, Virtual Classroom, synchronous, and simultaneous.