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Leading Online. An Autoethnography on Facilitating an Instructional F ocus on Student Learning. Sally A. Lancaster May 2, 2011. Context. Growth of Online Learning Inconsistent quality measures Teaching metrics focus on online class management not instruction

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Leading online

Leading Online

An Autoethnography on Facilitating an Instructional Focus on Student Learning

Sally A. Lancaster

May 2, 2011


  • Growth of Online Learning

  • Inconsistent quality measures

  • Teaching metrics focus on online class management not instruction

  • Best practices tend to focus on metrics


  • Monthly staff meetings and discussions lack energizing discussions about student learning. Instead, they focus on the details and mechanics of teaching an online course.

  • Percentages not standards

Socio technical theoretical f ramework
Socio-technical theoretical framework

  • Tavistock Institute: Social and technical components directly correlate to produce a given goal state.

  • Balance of human needs and technical needs

Application of socio technical theoretical framework
Application of socio-technical theoretical framework

  • Look at balance of human needs versus technical demands in the system.

  • Look through lens of all three level proposed by Trist (1980)

    • Primary – Classroom (Human resources frame)

    • Whole organization – School (Structural frame)

    • Macro-Social system – District/State Context (Political frame)

Anticipated research q uestions
Anticipated research questions

  • As a leader of an online high school, how can I facilitate teacher engagement in analyzing courses to ensure student success?

  • What does online learning look like when teachers identify and implement best practices in the online setting?

  • As a leader, how can I work with teachers to shift the discussion about online learning from an emphasis on teacher metrics to a focus on student-centered learning?

  • How do teachers effectively utilize the technology to manage the workload while focusing their personal resources on the important task of ensuring learning?

Key research
Key research

  • Martin Mueller Testimony

  • Nelson 2009, 2010

  • Tallent-Runnels 2006

  • Kopcha 2008

  • Portin, Feldman and Knapp 2006


  • Analytic Autoethnography

  • Designed to study self-reflection in daily praxis

  • Story behind data

  • Ellis and Bochner, Muncey, Chang and Anderson

Autoethnography a triadic model
Autoethnography: A triadic model

- Ellis and Bochner (2000)

Anderson s five e lements
Anderson’s five elements

  • Complete member researcher

  • Analytic reflexivity

  • Narrative visibility of the researcher’s self

  • Dialogue with informants beyond the self

  • Commitment to theoretical analysis


  • Everett School District

    • OnlineHS

      • 7 Teachers, 1 Support Staff, 1 Principal

      • # Classes

  • Contractual Agreement

  • Success Rate

  • Political Context

Anticipated methods for data collection
Anticipated Methods for Data Collection

  • Daily journal

    • Thoughts, reactions, perceptions, use of time, political context

  • Meeting agenda items

  • Meeting notes

  • Reflections of teachers


  • Supervisor: Reflexive role alleviates power differential

  • Beliefs about online learning

  • Ownership by virtue of developing the program

Anticipated outcomes
Anticipated Outcomes

  • Provide insights into one leaders successes and challenges with developing a high quality online program.

  • Contribute to growing body of knowledge of online learning.

  • Increase knowledge of the importance of instructional leadership in this new arena.