Blended Learning and the New Pressures on the Academy: Individual, Political, and Policy Driven Motivators for Adoption

Blended Learning and the New Pressures on the Academy: Individual, Political, and Policy Driven Motivators for Adoption

Gayani Samarawickrema (Deakin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-296-1.ch012
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter focuses on the factors relating to adopting blended learning by teaching academics and the associated social world around technology adoption in a large Australian university. Set up as an institutional case study, the findings are interpreted through two theoretical frameworks: diffusion of innovation theory and actor-network theory to reveal the complexities of innovation adoption. The chapter examines teaching academics’ individual motivations including the institution’s political and policy drivers, and shows how technology is shaped to fit a context, and how the context in turn shapes the use of technology. The closing discussion considers new work systems and processes that facilitate and accommodate change precipitated by technology adoption, and suggests how the transformation process might be supported.
Chapter Preview


This case study was conducted at Monash University which is considered to be Australia’s largest university. It has nearly 3500 teaching staff and more than 58000 students (Monash University, 2008) taking courses from ten faculties across six Australia-based and two overseas campuses. As information technology adoption and use are integrated in the University’s strategic plan, the University has made significant investments at institutional level in technology infrastructure, staff and student support services and institutional development to facilitate e-learning. Adopting WebCT Vista™ (now known as Blackboard Vista™), a commercially developed learning management system (LMS) allowed the University’s strategic plan to integrate its educational and technological opportunities into its courses. This was a specific initiative of the University’s technology policy. Prior to this, Monash University employed multimedia, print resources, face-to-face workshops and residential sessions in its blended learning and teaching approaches. In recent years with the adoption of the LMS, the blended learning opportunities have extended to e-learning environments.

Whitworth (2005, p. 685) aptly pointed out that integrating blended learning in the cultural and technological environment of a modern university ‘must be recognised as a process with political implications’ where tensions are high, time for evaluation and reflection is limited and financial investment in technology is huge’. The adoption and integration of blended learning at Monash University was no different. The institution has its own unique culture, politics, values, goals and its own perspective on innovation, change and technology adoption. The political landscape of any organisation is unique to that organization and its influence on innovation adoption, promotion or failure is therefore equally unique.


Theoretical Framework

This study draws on two theoretical frameworks, Rogers’ classical diffusion of innovation theory (Rogers, 2003) and actor-network theory to interpret the findings. Rogers listed five characteristics that influence the uptake of an innovation and listed them as:

  • Relative advantage: Which is viewed in terms of time, costs, effectiveness, convenience, quality, results or social prestige, over what the innovation replaces.

  • Compatibility: Which refers to alignment with existing values, practices, needs, past experiences and social norms.

  • Complexity: Which refers to perceptions regarding the innovation which is seen as being difficult to understand, learn and use.

  • Trialability: Which relates to the possibility to trial, experiment and reduce uncertainty and to learn by doing prior to adopting.

  • Observability: Which refers to the visibility of the results of adoption which stimulate discussion, interest and uptake.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Robin Mason
Elizabeth Stacey, Philippa Gerbic
Chapter 1
Elizabeth Stacey, Philippa Gerbic
Blended learning is now part of the learning landscape in higher education, not just for campus-based courses but for courses designed for students... Sample PDF
Introduction to Blended Learning Practices
Chapter 2
Philippa Gerbic
Online discussions are now available as a pedagogical option in blended learning environments in universities. Much of the research to date has... Sample PDF
Including Online Discussions Within Campus-Based Students' Learning Environments
Chapter 3
Ruth Geer
This chapter describes an investigation of strategies for fostering higher order cognition in a blended learning environment. The exploration, which... Sample PDF
Strategies for Blended Approaches in Teacher Education
Chapter 4
Mary Simpson, Bill Anderson
A teacher education programme previously taught in distinct on-campus and distance forms was redesigned to take advantage of the affordances offered... Sample PDF
Redesigning Initial Teacher Education
Chapter 5
Ana A. Carvalho, Zdena Lustigova, Frantisek Lustig
This chapter describes two European projects that respond to blended learning by integrating innovative technologies into blended learning... Sample PDF
Integrating New Technologies into Blended Learning Environments
Chapter 6
Guglielmo Trentin, Steve Wheeler
This chapter provides a further two European perspectives on blended learning. The first section is an overview of the ways in which the concept of... Sample PDF
Teacher and Student Responses to Blended Environments
Chapter 7
Peter J. Smith, Elizabeth Stacey, Tak Shing Ha
The majority of research and literature in collaborative learning online has been focussed on groups of students organised into units of study by an... Sample PDF
Blending Collaborative Online Learning with Workplace and Community Contexts
Chapter 8
Terrie Lynn Thompson, Heather Kanuka
The growing need for professional development to help university instructors with the adoption of online teaching is being propelled from several... Sample PDF
Establishing Communities of Practice for Effective and Sustainable Professional Development for Blended Learning
Chapter 9
Julie Mackey
Blended learning is examined via the experiences of teachers participating in qualification-bearing online professional development courses while... Sample PDF
Virtual Learning and Real Communities: Online Professional Development for Teachers
Chapter 10
Suzanne Riverin
This chapter examines the use of blended learning in an online community which supported teacher professional development in the province of... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and Professional Development in the K-12 Sector
Chapter 11
Faye Wiesenberg, Elizabeth Stacey
This study explores the similarities and differences between Canadian and Australian university teachers’ face-to-face and online teaching... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and Teaching Philosophies: Implications for Practice
Chapter 12
Gayani Samarawickrema
This chapter focuses on the factors relating to adopting blended learning by teaching academics and the associated social world around technology... Sample PDF
Blended Learning and the New Pressures on the Academy: Individual, Political, and Policy Driven Motivators for Adoption
Chapter 13
Gail Wilson
This chapter draws on a collective case study of six faculty members working in ICT-enhanced blended learning environments at a large regional... Sample PDF
Case Studies of ICT-Enhanced Blended Learning and Implications for Professional Development
Chapter 14
Cathy Gunn, Adam Blake
An accredited course in Academic Practice aligns with university and national strategic goals related to teaching and learning enhancement within a... Sample PDF
Blending Technology into an Academic Practice Qualification for University Teachers
Chapter 15
M. Brooke Robertshaw, Heather Leary, Andrew Walker, Kristy Bloxham, Mimi Recker
For teachers in the 21st Century it has become critical that they develop the skills to be able to teach in a world that is being transformed by... Sample PDF
Reciprocal Mentoring "In The Wild": A Retrospective, Comparative Case Study of ICT Teacher Professional Development
Chapter 16
Conclusion  (pages 298-311)
Philippa Gerbic, Elizabeth Stacey
The conclusion draws together the main themes identified under the sections of the book with a synthesis of the recommendations presented by the... Sample PDF
About the Contributors