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Improving blended learning environments for biblical studies: Applications of the “innovations in distance education” theory

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


Impressive technological advances are creating teaching and learning opportunities that just a generation ago were only murmuring dreams. Distance and traditional educational approaches are now being combined in Higher Education to produce robust blended learning environments. This wealth of practical progress has created a need for prescriptive instructional design theories which can provide guidance to instructors and designers of blended learning environments recommending the best strategies to employ under varying conditions for achieving specific learning goals.

This dissertation has two primary purposes: First, to identify a promising instructional design theory for use in developing humanities-based college courses, and second, to improve upon the chosen instructional design theory through formative research. Formative research is a type of design-based research that helps to enhance models and theories through practice. After a review of dozens of potential instructional design theories, the Penn State "Innovations in Distance Education" theory was selected as the most promising, based on the criteria of principles, goals, methods, conditions, and usability. This theory then guided the development of a blended learning introductory Old Testament course at a large Midwestern university. Surveys, observations, interviews, and document reviews of the student participants provided the raw data for suggesting improvements and changes to the theory.

The results suggested improvements to more than half of the 97 prescriptive strategies. These improvements are summarized in a revised and updated version of the Innovations in Distance Education theory which has been provided in the appendices to encourage future use and adoption. Some of the major findings of this study indicate the importance or value of (a) detailed attention to selecting and preparing appropriate educational technologies to support the blended learning environment, (b) asynchronous discussions in Biblical Studies courses to help students have sufficient time to process and deal with challenging and complex material in a non-threatening environment, (c) recorded lectures to improve note-taking and concentration, (d) instruction prepared according to student's individual learning styles, (e) the avoidance of unproductive group work, and (f) assessments selected for appropriateness to the learning objectives.


Halverson, T.D. Improving blended learning environments for biblical studies: Applications of the “innovations in distance education” theory. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved February 22, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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