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IBLC11-Abstract-Embedding blended learning into mainstream higher education: dilemmas and developments

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Clare Denholm
14 June 2011

Reporting findings of the student experience from a two year longitudinal study on the introduction of a blended learning model for teaching undergraduate skills.

This study is about the development and implementation of a blended learning model for a large cohort of undergraduate students, and the associated challenges.

Within mainstream higher education, innovating blended learning pedagogy and exploring the diverse functionality available in virtual learning environments (VLE) presents challenges from both technical and pedagogic perspectives. Traditionally, and in our former experience, the use of VLE’s by academics has often been limited to “functional dissemination” of information (lecture notes etc.).

Our work and research has monitored the implementation of a blended learning model, to inform future developments. The model was delivered to two cohorts comprising 800 undergraduate students. The traditional lecture was replaced by asynchronous learning media, supplemented with a “blend” of face to face workshops, crossing boundaries within our own institutional setting.

 Our research reviews student and academic perspectives using data from the following sources.

  • Student responses to two on line questionnaires between 2010 and 2011.
  • Staff perspectives

The challenges exposed during the development and implementation this blended learning model related to students and their experience with on line learning as an integrated and accepted feature of their educational experience.  

We found that online learning not only challenges students, but also presents a range of challenges for academics whose responsibility it is to “build on the blend” in face to face workshops.

We have also learned that making the most of VLE’s in conjunction with face to face interaction requires an understanding of the ways in which the “blend” between technical and pedagogic rationales may be developed and utilized to best effect for our students. 

Contributing to the informed and continued development of a blended model, our presentation will be an ‘honest’ review of good and bad exploring the implications of our findings, and the ways in which these may inform our future developments and teaching practice.

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