Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Barbara V. Strobert, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Anthony J. Colella, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Luke J. Stedrak, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Stephen J. Hoptay, Jr., Ed.D.


virtual learning, online learning, education, technology, law enforcement, virtual university


The use of online learning as a medium to deliver education has seen exponential growth over the past decade. Online learning environments have become a major part of education pedagogies; and as technology improves, evidence indicates that this trend will continue. Organizations and institutions have embraced this movement and are leveraging the benefits of using today’s computer and communications technology as a tool to impart learning to students. The federal government is no exception and has used the online model as a material component in its training and education strategy.

The purpose of this study was to explore the online learning experience of criminal investigators within Homeland Security Investigations and the perceived effectiveness of Virtual University, the online learning platform utilized within the United States Department of Homeland Security to deliver training to its personnel. A mixed methods design was used to understand users’ experiences with Virtual University and their perceptions of online learning through Virtual University as a means to deliver virtual education courses. For the study, Special Agents were surveyed and asked to evaluate various factors related to online learning generally, and components of Virtual University specifically. Based on the results gleaned from the survey, additional Special Agents were interviewed and asked open-ended questions designed to explore their experiences with online learning and Virtual University.

The study found that Virtual University, though not perfect, was perceived as a convenient, flexible medium to deliver learning. Although it appears that Virtual University is being underutilized, the study did reveal several ideas that are proposed as recommendations for improvements to the system.