Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Stephen W. Harmon, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Laurie B. Dias, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Marshall G. Jones, Ed.D.


Providing instruction using different instructional delivery methods allows the learner to absorb content in a way that fits the individual learner. Today’s students have grown up immersed in digital technology. However, many higher education faculty are still not speaking the same digital language as their students. The issue may be that the pedagogical and epistemological beliefs of faculty who are “digital immigrants” affect the teaching methods used in the higher education classroom today. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore design college faculty perceptions of the adoption of virtual world technology into the classroom. Diffusion and adoption theories, adoption models, and patterns of adoption provided a conceptual framework for this study. This mixed methods study collected data through a survey and post-survey interviews administered to faculty of 21 design colleges. The quantitative survey instrument included questions about the usage of technology, including virtual world technology, in the higher education classroom. A total of 309 faculty completed the survey. Descriptive statistics, including frequencies, means, and standard deviations were used in the analysis. A correlation analysis was performed to determine if there was a relationship between selected variables and the survey responses. Post-survey semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 faculty participants who volunteered for the interviews after participating in the survey. In this study, I used the constant comparative open coding hybrid method for the interview analysis. The specific research question posed in this study was: What are the perceptions of design college faculty regarding the use of virtual world technology in their courses? Guiding questions included: (a) What are faculty perceptions about virtual world technology that potentially affect its adoption into the classroom? (b) What are faculty perceptions of the affordances of using virtual world technology in the classroom? (c) What are faculty perceptions of the challenges of using virtual world technology in the classroom? In general, the results of this study indicate that while higher education faculty perceive that virtual world technology has the potential to be a useful teaching tool in the classroom, the faculty also perceive that they do not have the essential software and hardware support from their colleges to adopt this type of technology as a teaching tool in their courses.


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