Program Design

The signature pedagogy (Schulman, 2005) – deep structure, implicit structure and surface structure – of the Ed.D. program is theory-based and design-based research is used to improve each program iteration (Kumar, 2014).

  • The deep structure or beliefs about knowledge acquisition are grounded in situated and transformational adult learning embedded within students’ professional contexts (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Mezirow, 2000). Students acquire foundational knowledge in educational technology and deep knowledge in an area of specialization in their discipline or context.
  • The implicit structure or beliefs about professional attitudes, values and dispositions reflects students’ professional contexts (e.g. teaching, online education, technology integration) and emphasizes enculturation into the educational technology community as well as the development of scholarly habits of mind (Costa & Kallick, 2008).
  • The surface structure of the online program that represents teaching and learning extrapolates from the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) where a combination of asynchronous and synchronous interactions facilitated teaching, social and cognitive presence in the online program (Kumar, Dawson, Black, Cavanaugh & Sessums, 2011).


All faculty members teaching in the program have prior teaching and research experience in instructional design, online education, and graduate student mentoring, leading to a strong faculty presence in online interactions with students using various media.

In the early stages of the program, we communicate the importance of learner presence, self-direction and strategies for success in online environments and in doctoral study, and guide students to craft an individual plan for success. The virtual and physical learning environments for non-coursework interactions are chosen by students and designed to be initially faculty-driven but eventually student-led (Kumar & Hart, 2013).

In addition to focusing on quality teaching and learning environments, we take student support seriously because the online environment can isolate learners. Technical support, registration support, and customized information literacy support are key elements of the Ed.D. program.