Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Yu-Hui Ching


Yu-Chang Hsu


Norm Friesen


This study investigated the perspective of tenured and tenure-track instructors at public four-year colleges and universities involved in online course design. Using a classic grounded theory approach, 21 tenured and tenure-track instructors who had designed online courses for public four-year colleges and universities were interviewed about their experience. A pilot study was performed on this subject earlier that tentatively suggested instructors rarely use formal instructional design principles, yet their design tasks show a striking similarity to those formalized in the ADDIE model. In this study, the findings of the pilot study were expanded. Additional data helped develop a theory of adaptation and acceptance in online course design. This theory posits that instructors adapt to the online environment by incorporating what they are familiar with from face-to-face instruction. This process of incorporation is referred to here as adaptation. In addition, there is a desire for what is here designated as acceptance of their online courses: from their students, colleagues, and administrators. In response to these basic social processes, instructors develop strategies to compensate online for elements that they are accustomed to in traditional face-to-face courses (e.g., eye contact). This study provided an opportunity to understand the reason for the process of online course design from the online instructor’s viewpoint, rather than simply focusing on the process of course design itself, and serves as a basis for generating hypotheses for further research.