THE CHALLENGES OF INTEGRATINGONLINE LEARNING WITH FACE-TO-FACE TEACHING AND LEARNING.EDU5647: Learning through Collaboration and Sharing 1: Models, Skills and ToolsBorg Josmar
Blended Learning ...WHY?? Blended learning, the teaching practice that combines face-to-faceand online learning teaching methods. The necessity of such an emerging teaching method is, especially,contributed to the fact that as McLeod, S. et al. (2009) captivatingly shown,we are living in a word which is dominated by economic, technical, culturaland social change ….see video Button, L. (2011) explained how blended format: Has been used in both corporate and academic circles; Has been “one of the top ten trends to emerge in the knowledge delivery industry” asclaimed by The American Society for Training and Development (Rooney, 2003); Is “the single-greatest unrecognized trend in higher education today” (Young, 2002).
The need for Blended Learning! This is important as the 21st century environment has brought new normsand as Prensky, M. (2001) stated “…our students’ brains have physicallychanged" and so should our teaching pedagogy. All this change incurred the need of a new educational paradigm. So, thereis the urge to emphasize more on ‘producing learning’ rather than‘delivering instruction’. That is why we should move away from the idea of the school being thesolely learning place to the school being “an important part of the learningcontinuum” . Casap, J. (2013)
Blending Learning Typologies The Blended Learning Environment (BLE) can have different implementation models rangingfrom: These two ends of the Blended Learning spectrum might not represent the ideal learningscenario as it does not get “the best out of both worlds” (Graham, C. R., Allen, S., & Ure, D.,(2005).Classroom instructionsthat include onlineresources, with limitedor no requirement forthe students to be onlineFully online curriculumwith options for face toface instruction
Blending Learning Typologies The model to be used is subjective to what’s the best combination of modes for thelearning needed at hand, while considering certain drawbacks such as budget, time,distance and the context. Various research and case studies show different models applied by higher educationinstitutions but according to Eduview (2009), “Today, the bulk of blended learning extendsand enhances face-to-face instruction, as shown in Models 3-5 in the continuum.”
Challenges to integrate BLE Looking at how to teach, not just what to teach. Solution: It is pertinent to design a flexible learning program, ratherthan a fully structured one so as to give space for the students toexpress their creativity and learn at their own pace. The program design should be critically analyzed as to what parts mayrequire face-to-face time and others that requires onlinecommunication. Thereafter, gathering feedback and be flexible to change is a must tofurther enhance the learning experience.
Challenges to integrate BLE Resistance: Educators resist BLE because they "teach as theyare taught" (Gardiner, 1998). BLE should reflect a change in theteaching pedagogy and the educators’ role. And so, learningcourses and curricula should be redesigned to reflect such ashift in the teaching process BUT: Higher education professors will not sacrifice their research timeto change curricula and pedagogy which deem not directly beneficialfor them, thus they keep on using the traditional way of lecturing
Challenges to integrate BLE Finding the Right Blend: It is a important to identify the instructionalstrategies that match well with the conditions within online and face toface learning environment. It is a complex challenge because it relates to achieving the right blend, both from alearning and cost-effective standpoint. Time Commitment: more time is needed for the development of aBlended Learning course and the weekly administrative duties that arerequired. BUT: Vaughan (2007, p.88) commented that this time consuming practice, eventually,results in improving the learning environment for both students and teachers.
Challenges to integrate BLE Student Centred Design: Those designing a Blended Learningcourse must keep in mind that at the heart of the course there is thestudent. What might seem as the most natural way of doing things might not be themost practical, especially for the student. Griffin et al. (2007) narrates a case where all resources for a BLE were putonline. But due to challenges in technological use, technological orientationto the teaching pedagogy as well as cost factors, some students omitted fromdownloading the resources and others from doing the necessary readings inpreparation for face to face tutorials. It was concluded that there should beadequate support for a successful blended learning experience.
Challenges to integrate BLE BLE is not a solo Activity: Adequate support is needed before (throughprofessional development) and during the course design. During the design stage, teachers must work collaboratively, together with ITspecialists, to understand what can work online and what is not practical. Ensuring all the elements are coordinated: Students may feel they areleft alone without proper guidelines so as to ensure that they are on theright track. Solution: A visual course map on a course Website can help participants getorganized. This should include the suggested schedule for self-paced work and also allof the links for content, virtual classroom, and materials. Moreover, contactinformation for the educator and technical support should be easy to find on for easeof trouble shooting
Challenges to integrate BLE Varied feelings: Blended Learning, may not be suitable for all students astechnology may instill enthusiasm to some but fear to others. Therefore,educators must ensure that students can successfully use the technology. Solution: Avoid from introducing all of the available technologies at once, and use thesimplest technology possible to make your point. Also, support should be available foreach technology and the educator has the answers to the most common problems. Independent Students: Distance learning requires that students are self-motivated, able to manage time in a virtual environment and beindependent in their learning process. First time students may not be able to independently adapt to such characteristics. Students should have a positive and practical mindset and remove the ill-perceivednotion that fewer classes mean less work.
Challenges to integrate BLE Communication Cues: Technological tools are great tools for collaborationthat goes beyond face to face, traditional way of teaching towards a morestudent-centered learning experience. However: it hides certain communication cues (facial expression, voice inflectionsetc…) that can develop misunderstandings and portray a variant picture of the actualdiscussion. Create a sense of community: Students feel a sense of belonging andcommitment and that all members are valued. According to Rovai & Jordan (2004), "students who feel they do not fit in and have lowsense of community tend to feel isolated and are at-risk of becoming dropouts“
Challenges to integrate BLE Assessment methods: Assessment is one of the critical success factors toovercoming this challenge. And so results should be monitored, tracked,and used to ascertain that all requirements have been met. When designing learning programs, the focus should not be on the technologyimplementation only but also on the actual design which includes the appropriatecontent and methods of assessment. Assessment has to be integrated seamlessly into the content, and not simply a one-offactivity at the end of the course. Traditional online assessment methods, such as multiple choice questions, assess thestudents for knowledge retention only. But in a well-structured online environment,students are not simply passive learners, but active participants. Hence, theassessment methods employed must also reflect the skills that are employed in a BLE.
Challenges to integrate BLE Culture Barriers: There are cultural barriers for both learners andinstructors that must be overcome in order to use BLEs. The online part of BLEs require a large amount of self discipline on the part of the learnersbecause learning in that setting is largely independent . As Collis (2003) showed, currently, the institutional culture allows for student dropouts anddon’t necessarily require the learners to have the discipline to finish an online course. The culture of the institutions must change to reflect a certain degree of persistence in orderfor BLE to be highly successful, Organizational and management support: In higher educational, institutions may hesitateto try blended approaches because they are not sure that they have departmental support orthat it fits into the culture of the department or greater institution (Hartman et al., 1999). Management support is essential for educators because they have a large influence on theinstitution culture, which will then reflect on the students’ attitudes and perception of thecourse.
Conclusion Over the past decade, with the increased availability of technology and networkaccess, the use of BLE has steadily grown. The integration of technology ineducation will continue to impose new questions and further research so as tomitigate the dilemmas and the challenges imposed by new course designs. While considering the amalgamation of technology with the teaching practice, it’snecessary to be thoughtful about designing the BLE, so as to consider thechallenges that both the institutions and the students can come across in order toenhance the learning experience and the success rate. As Junaid (2012) stated “it’s certainly an exciting time to exist in the tech-educationspace, and we’re happy to be looking at it and partaking in it from the inside”
References Collis, (2003). In Benefits and Challenges of Blended Learning Environments. What When & How: In depth tutorials ofinformation. Retrieved 14/03/13 from http://what-when-how.com/information-science-and-technology/benefits-and-challenges-of-blended-learning-environments/ Casap, J. (2013).Unleashing the power of the Web in Education. Work Seminar at BETT Fair 2013, London.(http://www.jcasap.com/) Eduviews (2009). Blended Learning: Where Online and Face-to-Face Instruction Intersect for 21st Century Teaching andLearning. K12 perspectives.com. Retrieved 04/03/13 from http://www.k12perspectives.com/blended_learning.asp Graham, C. R., Allen, S., & Ure, D. (2005). Benefits and Challenges of Blended Learning Environments. In M. Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology (pp. 253-259). Hershey, PA: Information ScienceReference. Retrieved 07/03/13 from http://www.igi-global.com/viewtitlesample.aspx?id=14246&ptid=361&t=benefits+and+challenges+of+blended+learning+environments Griffin, T. & Thomson, R. (2008). Evolution of blended learning in a large enrolmentsubject: What was blended andwhy? In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educationaltechnology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne2008.http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/melbourne08/procs/griffin.pdf Hartman et al. (1999). In Benefits and Challenges of Blended Learning Environments. What When & How: In depthtutorials of information. Retrieved 14/03/13 from http://what-when-how.com/information-science-and-technology/benefits-and-challenges-of-blended-learning-environments/ Junaid (2012). The Rewards and Challenges of ‘Blended Learning’. Citylighter. Retrieved 13/03/13 fromhttp://blog.citelighter.com/?p=125
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