Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Thompson, I., & Hiple, D. (eds.). (2005). Selected papers from the 2004 NFLRC symposium: Distance Education, Distributed Learning and Language Instruction (NetWork#44). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i, National Foreign Language Resource Center


Copyright © 2005 by the authors.


This study investigated how in-service teachers of foreign languages constructed knowledge, and how this knowledge transformed their teaching, their beliefs, and their sense of themselves as professionals in an on-line professional development course based on a constructivist approach. This article provides an overview of research on distance education, constructivism, and teacher education with findings from a multiple case study of an on-line graduate course on Instructional Planning offered through GOLDEN (German On-line Distance Education Network;, a collaborative professional development project of the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German; ), the Goethe Institut of Washington DC ( ), and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

A non-traditional, constructivist approach to learning was implemented in which students and instructors became co-constructors of new information and knowledge. The study investigated in- service teachers' instructional practices, beliefs, and reflections in an on-line course. The data were collected through extensive, multiple sources of information, including interviews, online observations, teachers' narratives, course documents and artifacts, and e-mail communication between the participants and the instructors. This study provides in-depth investigation of four individual cases. The findings offer important insights for further online professional development and for distance education courses in general.