Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Adult and Continuing Education

First Advisor

Tom Heaney, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Randee Lipson Lawrence, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Anne Becker, Ed.D.


Despite opportunities for artist educators to locate their practice in online learning environments, many remain reluctant to embrace virtual classrooms. As schools are being forced to create an increasing array of online courses, administrators are reluctant or unable to provide additional resources for equipping faculty with the skills needed to support online course development. Specific guidelines to train faculty how to teach online are often fragmented or local. Programs that demonstrate the ability to grow vibrant and connected online cultures may help guide future faculty development.

The Virtual Learning Community (VLC) Fellowship program at Columbia College Chicago supports informal, faculty led online communities in an arts-based institution historically resistant to online instruction. The author presents findings from an Ethnographic Case Study of the VLC program that examines how professional faculty development and learning occurs in these settings within the frameworks of connectivism and transformative learning.


I want to acknowledge the staff and faculty of Columbia College Chicago who have been both my greatest supporters and critics, always keeping me on task for the sake of our common goal; striving for excellence in education. In particular, I want to thank my friends and colleagues at the Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence who have been my eyes, ears and heart in my search to make meaning of an emerging education ecology. My journey has not been alone and there have been many who have shared critical skills and important research in this field. Gina Russell Stevens, co-founder of Moodlerooms, a Moodle hosting organization, was a mentor for several years and continues to be a close friend and colleague. She has pioneered a great deal of the work in online adult education. I want to also thank my fellow cohort members, instructors, and advisors, Tom Heaney, who taught me at the right time to truly keep calm and carry on, Randee Lawrence, who knew just the right time to haul in the sails or let fly the spinnaker, and Anne Becker, who urged me to take this journey and reach for greater heights.

I want to also thank my entire family for their encouragement, understanding and respect for me throughout this journey, but I want to especially acknowledge and thank my wife Laurie for her hours of putting up with me as I paced the floor searching for the right idea, listening to me read sentences over and over, transcribing my interviews, creating many of the animated graphics used in this Critical Engagement Project, and most of all, her cherished love and support.




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