Date of Award



© 2016 Misty McBrierty

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Carol Burbank

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay

Third Advisor

Mary Morrison


This qualitative case study examined how the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of staff relate to the effective use of transformative learning management technologies to support personalized/customized learning. Additionally, this study sought to understand the stories of individuals using the learning management system Empower as staff transformed to a personalized/customized culture. The conceptual framework focused on the disruptive technology necessary for personalized/customized learning.

Fifteen participants engaged in open-ended interviews, observations, sharing of artifacts, and the data was analyzed through coding transcripts into themes and summary concepts. The goal of the research was to analyze teacher experiences and perceptions using Empower to support personalized/customized learning. Key findings of the research indicate that the effective use of Empower revolves around participant engagement, planning and experiences. One key finding of the research was that pre-work is critical to the success of technology in order to support effective use. A foundational first step must include ensuring a viable and valid structure of learning progressions for each content area, with attention to processes that take into account complex reasoning, and habits of mind and work. The study also concludes that providing practitioners with deeply meaningful learning experiences, personalized supports, and restructured planning time is crucial to sustainability and must be on-going.

It is essential that all practitioners have a solid understanding of instructional design in a blended learning model. Furthermore, time needs to be leveraged differently for practitioners and students. The time-based fixed structures limit the practicality of implementing all aspects of a personalized/customized learning model. The technology problems need to be rectified in a timely manner and better communication about technology use is essential. Teachers can’t wait for days for the technology to be made functional. They are working live with students and need the technology to be up and running smoothly at all times.

Highly effective communication to all stakeholders, especially the parent/guardian group, is a critical need for the successful and sustainable impact of Empower or other learning management systems on personalized/customized learning. The role of leadership is foundational and essential to the implementation of Empower. Leadership, meaning from the board and superintendent level to the building level leaders and curriculum leaders, has to create the conditions for success of the practitioners and learners.


Ed.D. Dissertation