Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms

Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms

James G.R. Cronin (University College Cork, Ireland), John Paul McMahon (University College Cork, Ireland) and Michael Waldron (University College Cork, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-654-9.ch013
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Abstract

Reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners within a “blended” learning environment needs to be articulated within a constructivist paradigm. Increasingly, the term reflective practice is appearing in the vocabulary of adult education discourse. Educators have become familiar with the concept of reflective practice through Donald Schön’s writings. Schön’s work is founded on a tradition of learning supported by Dewey, Lewin, and Piaget. As a learning group, lifelong learners are receptive to constructivist learning interventions where facilitated activities provide learners with opportunities to enact and collaboratively construct meaning as interventions unfold. This case study reviews learning enactments through an online discussion forum in an evening diploma in European Art History, University College Cork, Ireland.
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Introduction

In Ireland, the majority of lifelong learners are part-time students trying to maintain work and family commitments. Ireland’s participation in the European Union’s Bologna Declaration (1999) is establishing a higher educational qualification framework that predicts flexible career progression paths and greater educational opportunities by 2010. If course providers are to fully integrate non-traditional learners within higher education they need to consider opportunities afforded by learning technologies to enhance self-directed inquiry.

Studies in the application of learning technologies in higher education continue to focus on an 18-30 age group. The reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners still needs to be articulated within a constructivist paradigm. The Internet facilitates student and teacher access to many inquiry-based learning experiences. Online social networking, as mediated through discussion boards and chat rooms, allows for information collaboration and knowledge construction outside of the formal educational institution. Judith V. Boettcher (2007) argues that online tools are particularly valuable in this context because they provide a public forum in which the cumulative, step-by-step process of concept formation, refinement, application, and revision is fully visible to student peers as well as their mentors. Boettcher suggests that discussion forums, blogs, journals, and small group work are all excellent strategies for allowing learners to enlarge their mental models, to clarify concepts, and to establish meaningful links and relationships.

Malcom S. Knowles (1970, 1975 & 1984) acknowledged the importance of prior experience and self-direction in adult education. Increasingly, the term reflective practice is appearing in the vocabulary of adult education discourse. Broadly speaking, reflective practice is a mode that integrates thought and action with reflection for the benefit of improving one’s professional practice. Over the past two decades, educators have become familiar with the concept of reflective practice through Donald Schön’s writings about reflective practitioners (Schön, 1983, 1987). Schön’s work has an historical basis in a tradition of learning supported by Dewey, Lewin, and Piaget, each of whom advocated that learning is dependent upon the integration of experience with reflection and of theory with practice. Lee S. Shulman’s paper on signature pedagogies in the professions (2005) implicitly owes a debt to the work of Donald Schön. Signature pedagogies are composed of three elements: surface structures, deep structures and implicit structures. The surface structure, applies to the acts of teaching and learning. The deep structure refers to the values of the discipline (e.g., what makes a lawyer or a doctor?). The implicit structure or hidden curriculum is revealed through performances of student understanding. In his seminal paper, Shulman mentions in passing the transformative potential of learning technologies upon a traditional curriculum design, but he does not expand on this. (Shulman, 2005, pp. 52–59).

This case study reviews learning enactments, through an online discussion forum on an evening diploma in European Art History at University Cork, as a means of demonstrating that lifelong learners, as a learning group, are receptive to constructivist learning interventions where facilitated activities provide learners with opportunities to enact and collaboratively construct meaning as interventions unfold.

Since 2004, the Centre for Adult Continuing Education, University College Cork, has seen the potential for using online resources to enhance disciplinary understanding within “blended” learning environments whereby online is integrated with class-based teaching and learning (Cronin, 2005, 2008; Young & Cronin, 2005).

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Michael Sherman
Acknowledgment
Carla R. Payne
Chapter 1
Maria Luisa Pérez Cavana
Taking into account the complexity and multiplicity of constructivist theories, the first part of this chapter focuses on the relationship between... Sample PDF
Closing the Circle: From Dewey to Web 2.0
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Chapter 2
Noel Fitzpatrick, Nóirín Hayes, K.C. O’Rourke
Constructivism has become the comfortable face of educational theory in recent years, due in no small part to the mainstreaming of learning... Sample PDF
Beyond Constriction and Control: Constructivism in Online Theory and Practice
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Chapter 3
Barbara de la Harpe, Fiona Peterson
There is a strong move worldwide for a constructivist theory to underpin the way teaching and learning are viewed in today’s colleges and... Sample PDF
The Theory and Practice of Teaching with Technology in Today's Colleges and Universities
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Chapter 4
Karen Swan, D.R. Garrison, Jennifer C. Richardson
This chapter presents a theoretical model of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, which is grounded in John Dewey’s... Sample PDF
A Constructivist Approach to Online Learning: The Community of Inquiry Framework
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Chapter 5
Jennifer Lee, Lin Lin
Based on constructivist principles, this chapter provides a new instructional design map for online learning environments. This instructional design... Sample PDF
Applying Constructivism to Online Learning: A New Instructional Design Map
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Chapter 6
Beth Rubin
Constructivist education usually involves authentic assessment, which is affected by the media used to teach. Information technology can enhance or... Sample PDF
Enhancing Authentic Assessment Through Information Technology
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Chapter 7
Xenia Coulter, Alan Mandell
The adult college student, caught between the competing demands of work and home, has recently become a valuable commodity in today’s fast-changing... Sample PDF
Nontraditional Students and Information Technology: The Siren Call of the Virtual Classroom and its Impact on Progressive Educational Ideals
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Chapter 8
Jakko van der Pol
This chapter aims to perform a thorough analysis of students’ online learning conversations. Although offering a high potential for collaborative... Sample PDF
Online Learning Conversations: Potential, Challenges and Facilitation
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Chapter 9
Laura M. Nicosia
Contemporary educators have been reassessing pedagogical frameworks and reevaluating accepted epistemologies and ontologies of learning. The age-old... Sample PDF
Virtual Constructivism: Avatars in Action
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Chapter 10
G. Andrew Page, Radwan Ali
The key idea that sets constructivism apart from other theories of cognition was launched about 60 years ago by Jean Piaget. It was the idea that... Sample PDF
The Power and Promise of Web 2.0 Tools
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Chapter 11
Shalin Hai-Jew
This chapter examines some ways information technologies (IT) are deployed in higher education courses to help learners create robust mental models.... Sample PDF
IT-Enabled Strategies for Mental Modeling in E-Learning
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Chapter 12
Roisin Donnelly
This chapter critically explores the design and implementation of a blended problem-based learning (PBL) module for academic professional... Sample PDF
Transformative Potential of Constructivist Blended Problem-Based Learning in Higher Education
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Chapter 13
James G.R. Cronin, John Paul McMahon, Michael Waldron
Reception and use of information technology by lifelong learners within a “blended” learning environment needs to be articulated within a... Sample PDF
Critical Survey of Information Technology Use in Higher Education: Blended Classrooms
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Chapter 14
M. Beatrice Ligorio, Nadia Sansone
In this chapter, the case of a blended university course will be described in detail. The main focus of this description will be on how some... Sample PDF
Structure of a Blended University Course: Applying Constructivist Principles to Blended Teaching
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Chapter 15
Hwee Ling Lim, Fay Sudweeks
As educators utilize an increasingly wide range of technologies for facilitating interaction between distant learning parties, there are concerns... Sample PDF
Constructivism and Online Collaborative Group Learning in Higher Education: A Case Study
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Chapter 16
Linda Lohr, Nicholas Eastham, David Kendrick
This case study describes how a constructivist theory of learning guided the design of distributed learning environment for a three credit hour... Sample PDF
Constructivist Strategies to Optimize Four Levels of Interaction in a Distributed Learning Environment: A Case Study
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Chapter 17
Alessio Gaspar, Sarah Langevin, Naomi Boyer
This chapter discusses a case study of the application of technology to facilitate undergraduate students’ learning of computer programming in an... Sample PDF
Facilitating Students-Driven Learning of Computer Programming with Technology
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Chapter 18
John Miller
A central component of constructivist pedagogy at the college level is the modeling and practicing of critical thinking, and since Socrates... Sample PDF
Designing Asynchronous Discussions to Teach Critical Thinking
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Chapter 19
Mark H. Schulman
The challenges for Goddard College posed by 21st Century information technologies are their incorporation into, and reflection of, the foundational... Sample PDF
"To Be in Occasional Touch": Goddard College's Progressive Principles and Distributed Learning
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Chapter 20
Carol R. Rinke, Divonna M. Stebick, Lauren Schaefer, M. Evan Gaffney
This chapter presents a critical case study on the use of information technology in a pre-service teacher education program. The authors integrated... Sample PDF
Using Blogs to Foster Inquiry, Collaboration, and Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education
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Chapter 21
Michal Zellermayer, Nili Mor, Ida Heilweil
This chapter describes the learning environment that the authors created for veteran teachers, graduate students in Teaching and Learning who are... Sample PDF
The Intersection of Theory, Tools and Tasks in a Postgraduate Learning Environment
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About the Contributors