Designing and Delivering Contextually Relevant Hybrid Degree Programs

Watch This Session

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

We will share how one very traditional university is partnering with K-12 school districts to design and deliver hybrid educational leadership degrees that are contextually relevant to those districts. This session will include lessons learned in curriculum and course development, and will share implications for institutional capacity-building.



April Lawrence is the Associate Director of eLearning and an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Education at William & Mary. She has worked as a curriculum analyst, a course reviewer, an instructional designer, and a consultant for both the public and private educational sector. April teaches courses on learning design, curriculum, and technology integration in both the pre-service teacher and the doctoral programs at William & Mary.

Extended Abstract

We are in the midst of a growing national shortage of K-12 teachers (Carver-Thomas and Darling-Hammond, 2017). While schools work to combat teacher attrition and to train new teachers, K-12 school administrators are also leaving the principalship (NASSP, 2017). According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, as population increase dictates the need for an increased supply of school principals, many school districts are reporting a serious lack of qualified educational leaders to replace those who leave the profession (2017). Increasingly, K-12 school districts are looking for new ways to cultivate the next generation of school leaders, and to combat the revolving door of teacher leaders and school administrators.

In this discovery session, we will share how our very traditional university, William & Mary, the second oldest university in the nation, is partnering with school districts to design and deliver hybrid degree programs that are contextual to the needs of K-12 educators. In 2017, we developed an online Ed.D. for a cohort of 25 school leaders from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the 4th largest school district in the nation. These next generation of school leaders will use the skills they learn in the online Ed.D. to conduct action research and program evaluation dissertations in their own school district. In August 2019, we launched two new cohorts of M.Ed. in K-12 Administration in partnership with two school districts in Virginia. These teacher leaders have been identified as the next generation of school principals, and the districts who have selected them hope to retain them in their districts. We have worked to design and deliver blended curriculum that allows teacher leaders to grapple with needs and issues that are present in their own buildings and districts.

We will share lessons learned in course and curriculum development from partnering with school districts and designing instruction that meets the evolving needs of school districts, and that upholds the standards of our program. The hallmark of a William & Mary education is one that cultivates a deep human understanding. We believe that through partnership with school districts and through our faculty members willingness to design responsive online and hybrid curriculum, we are meeting the needs of K-12 educators in a way that is contextually relevant and that cultivates deep human connection.