Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher Education

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A Review on the Vaughan 2007 paper

Research Findings:

Thirty institutions of higher education in the United States were involved in this study which evaluated the benefits and problems associated with blended learning.  For the students being able to work from home and having more control over the pace of their learning was empowering.    Students liked the autonomy blended learning gave them however,many struggled with managing their time well and taking responsibility for their learning particularly those used to a more passive style of learning.    Another challenge to some was their lack of technical skills to navigate the online interface.

Teachers enjoyed being able to use a variety of digital tools and media to enhance their lessons although they admitted it involved more preparation and time.   Hindrances experienced by teachers were similar across the institutions.  They included a lack of professional development support in terms of technical ‘know how’ and in the construction and design of courses.    Some teachers also feared a loss of control with their students but in retrospect teachers reported richer teacher-student relationships.   Teachers reported students developed better cognitive writing skills along with an increased aptitude for participating in class discussions.   This was attributed to students being more engaged with their learning.

Implications for Practice:

Ideally a course management system would be employed to deliver blended learning.  The benefits being that resources can be shared across departments,online quizzes can be automatically graded,online tutorials can be housed in an online file directory (for access at any time) and costs associated with administration like photocopying can be drastically reduced.    Successful consolidation for blended learning in an institution requires a comprehensive infrastructure,one that has identified its needs,goals and objectives.    A policy framework and strategic plan should be initiated to establish some common ground and direction.  The need for ongoing professional development and IT technical support must also be addressed to ensure successful adoption.

Reference:

Vaughan,Norman 2007 Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher Education
International Journal on ELearning; 2007;6,1;ProQuest pg. 81

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