Best practices in teaching K–3 online: A content analysis of distance education journals, blogs, and electronically-documented surveys
Darnell, Nikosi Shantea
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The purpose of this study was to examine best teaching practices utilized by virtual K-3 instructors through a qualitative content analysis of distance education journals, dedicated virtual school blogs, and electronically-documented surveys completed by virtual K-3 instructors. Two theoretical perspectives informed this study, socio-constructivism and activity theory. Socio-constructivism provided a lens addressing factors contributing to the implementation of best practices, while activity theory functioned as a descriptive means for considering the implementation of best practices within the context of varying activity systems (Vygotsky, 1978; Engestrom, 1987; Leont'ev, 1978; Luria, 1976). The sample consisted of 5 distance education journals, 4 dedicated virtual school blogs, and 11 electronically-documented surveys completed by virtual K-3 instructors. The qualitative content analysis revealed that in following best practices virtual K-3 instructors were responsible for setting clear expectations, personalizing instruction, accommodating diverse learners, building a community of learners, implementing evidence-based teaching practices, using technology effectively in the online classroom, participating in professional development activities, and actively working with parents and administrators to improve the learning environment for virtual K-3 students.