In this study, students who are preservice and inservice teachers participated in an asynchronous online graduate course in multicultural diversity during the fall of 2008. Their emails, threaded discussions, cross-cultural community interactions, and final reflections were examined and analyzed revealing their perceptions of their experiences in this course. The main relevance of the study was to provide insight and new understandings of learning online.
The Community of Inquiry provided the framework within which these insights and understandings were drawn. Four archived course components were analyzed: emails, threaded discussions, cross-cultural community interactions, and final reflections. A coalescence of presence was found throughout. Themes of transformation emerged from the threaded discussions, cross-cultural community interactions, and final reflections. Although most of the participant perceptions of learning online were positive, some downsides were voiced, namely, difficulties with technology and preference for face to face (f2f) instruction.
The study addressed the overarching question: How do teachers’ perceptions of and experiences in an online graduate course on diversity education evolve over time? Themes which emerged from the email section included technology issues, assignment and grade expectations, and life challenges. Threaded discussions, cross-cultural community interactions, and final reflections revealed themes of transformation. Early in the course, participant posts and responses were peppered with statements of disbelief, e.g. “I didn’t know…” and “I can’t believe…” By the end of the course, the statements had evolved to “I now know…” and “I now believe…” as the participants examined and analyzed their core beliefs.
Muller, Katherina C., "Capturing the Essence and the Coalescence of Presence within the Community of Inquiry of an Online Graduate Course in Multicultural Diversity" (2009). School of Education. 3.
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