Creating Connections: A Pilot Study on an Online Community of Learners

H. Carol Greene, PhD
East Carolina University


This paper reports the findings from a pilot study that investigated the uses of computer-mediated communication in an educational psychology course for pre-service teachers that focused on problem-based learning via CD-ROM-based case analysis. Thirty-nine pre-service teachers and eight practicing teachers participated in the development of an online learning community in which they viewed video case studies as part of a virtual field experience component and communicated online through chat rooms and threaded discussion lists. Data sources included transcripts of chat room and threaded communication, field notes, student tasks and reflections, and exit interviews with the teachers and one student focus group. Methodology was qualitative in nature using a template organizing approach with the constant comparative method. This paper reports the findings concerning students’ learning about educational psychology and teaching, students’ appreciation of diverse settings, the developmental nature of the questions posed by the pre-service teachers, and the advantages and disadvantages of using the technological components in this course. Results showed that the case studies helped the students make sense of the concepts and theories being studied in class, while communication with the teachers helped the students see the practical applications of the information they were learning.

About the Author(s)...

H. Carol Greene is an Assistant professor in Elementary Education at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. She earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at Virginia Tech in 2003. She has authored and co-authored several publications related to building online learning communities and the use of technology in teacher education. Her research interests include technology and teacher education and children and families in poverty. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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