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A qualitative study of five West Virginia K-12 RuralNet Project teachers merging the Internet into their instruction and how the Internet affects professional practice

, West Virginia University, United States

West Virginia University . Awarded


This qualitative study explores the day-to-day classroom work of five West Virginia K–12 RuralNet Project teachers, highlighting the drama of integrating technology into learning and showing how these teachers build and refine relationships to foster their sense of professionalism, through the use of technology. This study shows how teachers use the Internet as an instructional resource and as a tool for connecting to other people within and outside of the learning community. The participants of this study began to learn new technology skills during the summer of 1995. Today, they are integrating Internet technology into their daily teaching and planning of lessons. This qualitative study examines the beliefs and actions of five teachers who were first trained to use Internet technology, and then employed to train and mentor other teachers who were learning to use Internet technology. This study provides insight into the advantages and tradeoffs associated with using technology to support instruction to build a functional educational community and to enhance the teaching profession.

This study follows five teachers who believed their instruction changed when they developed technology skills, primarily Internet skills, through their participation in an extensive Internet training program, the K–12 RuralNet Project. The RuralNet Project, funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Dr. Randall L. Wiesenmayer of West Virginia University, has trained over a thousand teachers to use the Internet for science teaching and learning. These thousand teachers are located at over 400 schools throughout West Virginia.

I have arranged the data into two broad categories: “Instruction and the Internet as a Resource,” and “Relationship building: The Internet and Schools as Communities.” In the first section, “Instruction and the Internet as a Resource,” I highlight the aspects of how the Internet is intertwined into the daily work of teachers and students. By reflecting upon many issues in the data, I write about how teachers use and sometimes misuse technology in their attempt to integrate the Internet into quality learning. In the second part, “Relationship building: The Internet and Schools as Communities,” I provide details about how the Internet has helped teachers and learners build relationships and a sense of community. In this section I explore interactions between the members of the school as a community and teacher interactions that reach beyond the walls of the school.


Falvo, D.A. A qualitative study of five West Virginia K-12 RuralNet Project teachers merging the Internet into their instruction and how the Internet affects professional practice. Ph.D. thesis, West Virginia University. Retrieved January 21, 2020 from .

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