Mixed messages: Exploring the experiences of instructors in a large-scale distance language learning program

Paula Charbonneau-Gowdy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Participatory approaches, increasingly being emphasized in education, put a heavy burden on practitioners. Arguably, nowhere it seems are those demands more essential than in teacher guided Internet-based e-learning. The high stakes involved in learnerś proactive and critical participation in knowledge building online as opposed to passive assimilation, are closely connected to successful learning and indeed are the lifeblood of highly effective and sustainable Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) programs. A proliferation of recent studies aimed at the complex issue of online participation has justifiably focused primarily on learners' perspectives. At the same time, there is a paucity of studies based on teachers' experiences in these programs. This oversight is surprising given the well-established connection between effective teachers and successful learning outcomes. The paper addresses the concern for uncovering teachers' voices. It builds on extensive quantitative and qualitative data generated in a larger study that examined an innovative large-scale distance language-learning program offered across a network of private universities in South America. The aim of this followup inquiry was to uncover the perspectives of the group of instructors employed in this international distance program. Within the qualitative paradigm we adopted a case study methodology and used field notes, video-recorded and transcribed group and individual interviews and a numbers-based questionnaire in the data collection process. Our focus was on the experiences of instructors interacting with learners through social media on an interactive learning platform and in a webconferencing classroom. The findings clearly indicate that even amongst such enthused and committed educators regarding online learning, complex and powerful forces within the program context prevented many of these professionals from resolving the issues they faced in engaging learners. Unraveling and understanding these forces seems essential in order to support the kinds of teacher identities that can influence learner investment in online social learning sites.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2017
EditorsPaula Peres, Anabela Mesquita, Anabela Mesquita
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781911218593
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Event16th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2017 - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 26 Oct 201727 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL
ISSN (Print)2048-8637
ISSN (Electronic)2048-8645


Conference16th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2017


  • Distance learning
  • Interactive learning
  • Learner engagement
  • Teacher identity
  • Virtual learning environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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