School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Ellen Ziegler


online learning, technology, course design, learning management system




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the experiences that college instructors face when designing online courses to facilitate learning opportunities for students at Gotham University (a pseudonym). This study was guided by the E-learning theory developed by Mayer et al. (2016), which introduced the importance of understanding how to create learning environments that are engaging and motivating. The E-learning theory was used to answer the following central research question: What is the experience of college instructors in designing online college courses? The central research question allowed the participants to describe their experiences designing online courses that offer student engagement, motivation, and promote student learning. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants for the study. The data collection methods used in the study were interviews with each participant, an analysis of course documents, and observations of the courses. A total of 12 participants took part in the research study and provided a better understanding of the phenomenon. Data analysis followed Moustakas’ (1994) transcendental phenomenological research approach to help provide better insight into the experiences college instructors face when creating online courses. Three themes and eight sub-themes emerged from the study. The themes were instructional design, socialization, and effectiveness of online learning. All findings associated with this study could benefit higher education institutions, current and future instructors, and current and future students.

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