Educational Administration, Department of


First Advisor

Dr. Brent D. Cejda

Second Advisor

Dr. Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza

Third Advisor

Dr. Katherine Wesley

Date of this Version

Spring 4-24-2020


Jolley, Michael R. (2020). Going the distance: A case study of one community college's journey across the digital divide [Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Brent D. Cejda. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2020

Copyright 2020 Michael R. Jolley


Rural communities throughout the nation continue to lag their urban and suburban peers in access to high-speed internet service. This digital divide affects rural populations in a myriad of ways, but access to higher educational opportunities may be most problematic. While the promise of technology to level the field for rural students continues to offer hope, the scarcity of broadband service lingers. This qualitative instrumental case study explores how one exceptional rural community college in the Great Plains developed the capacity to deliver distance education programming. The study relies upon Rogers's theory of diffusion of innovations to validate the extent of the college’s distance education efforts and examines how the college fulfilled the six components of the Basic Online Capacity model described by Cox. Findings from the study are threefold. First, results indicate that the case study institution not only exceeds capacity in each of Cox’s components but also does so in no small degree. Second, the case study institution also conformed to the model using alternative means. Third, the study identified potential modifications to the model related to component interconnectedness and structure and offers a modified model to address these deficiencies. Recommendations for future research into the potential effects of leadership, organizational structure, and program maturity on the validity of the model follow.

Adviser: Brent D. Cejda