IBLC11-Abstract-Changing needs, changing directions: ‘Blending’ blended learning with a dual mode cohort

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Nannayi Dakat
13 May 2011

Author: Miss Kate Davis

Abstract:

University students want flexibility in their study options in order to balance competing demands of personal and professional life whilst furthering their education. To meet this changing need, since 2008, the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Master of Information Technology (Library and Information Science) has been embracing a more student friendly learning delivery. The once face-to-face only degree now provides students the choice to mix and match online or face-to-face study options through online and face to face delivery.  Blended learning has been instrumental in ensuring the success of this new direction.

This paper will discuss the preliminary findings from a study that explored the issues, challenges and opportunities faced by LIS academics when teaching in a blended learning environment.  The study is one part of a larger project funded by a QUT Faculty of Science and Technology Teaching and Learning Grant that will move from incremental innovation toward institutional enhancement by establishing a ‘whole of degree’ approach to blended learning. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of QUT’s LIS teaching team. Two strong themes that characterise and shape the design and delivery of the LIS course at QUT emerged from these interviews: the dual mode student cohort and ‘extreme’ flexibility in delivery.

This paper will focus on the dual modality of the LIS course and consider the implications of marrying dual modality, ‘extreme’ flexible delivery, and blended learning. The preliminary findings discussed in this paper will shed light on a number of questions, including: What are the implications for students and teachers that arise from the flexible dual mode learning environment? What are the pedagogical and technological implications in delivering a highly flexible dual mode course that seeks to embrace the potential of blended learning? What are the key challenges and opportunities presented by this unique approach to the course design? Is it possible to offer a truly equitable learning experience for a dual cohort, and how can blended learning assist with this?

This research will contribute to the current understanding of blended learning practices and the particular issues and challenges associated with dual mode cohorts.

Keywords: "blended learning" "dual modality" flexibility "library and information science"

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