Strategies for Blended Approaches in Teacher Education

Strategies for Blended Approaches in Teacher Education

Ruth Geer (University of South Australia, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-296-1.ch003
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This chapter describes an investigation of strategies for fostering higher order cognition in a blended learning environment. The exploration, which utilised a qualitative case study approach, highlights the critical nature of effective instructional design. The study extends the educator’s understanding of the complexities of online and blended learning environments through an analysis of the discourse of computer-mediated communication in a first year teacher education course. The investigation resulted in the development of a pedagogical framework which outlines the relationship between pedagogies, technologies and their related learning outcomes. Critical indicators, which are potentially important as strategies and early warning signs of “students at risk”, become evident in the analysis. This research had led to notions of imprinting and cognitive tracks which can be used to inform strategies for teaching and learning using a blended approach.
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Education has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. This is evident in both the beliefs about how students learn and the type of technologies that are evolving and are available to support and enhance student learning. Higher education has undergone many modifications with the foundations of universities shaken by new and emerging Internet technologies and by increased numbers and diversity in the student population and demands for new learning approaches that will provide learners with flexible and personalised learning. There is a need to rethink and restructure learning experiences and explore the transformational potential of a blended learning approach.

Blended learning is a popular term which is used in the literature to describe a wide variety of teaching and learning strategies, but as Garrison and Kanuka (2004) suggest, understanding blended learning involves both the simple and the complex. They explain that in its simplest form, it is a combination of face to face learning with online experiences, integrating synchronous (classroom) and asynchronous (text-based) activities. On the other hand, there is complexity in the integration of deliberate, effective and innovative design implementations that can support deep and meaningful learning. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have provided tools which offer limitless design possibilities and applications (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). The effectiveness of blended learning approaches will be in the merging of the design components which are essentially synchronous and asynchronous, face to face and online. There is now the opportunity to enhance learning through a focus on two main forms of communication – oral and written, while improving the effectiveness of each form.

One of the strengths of blended learning is its capacity to develop learning communities outside of the classroom through its potential to support and enhance the development of higher order cognition by providing the opportunity for reflection. The online environment through the use of tried and emerging technologies can provide such an opportunity. Garrison and Kanuka (2004) acknowledged that “a blended learning context can provide the independence and increased control essential to develop critical thinking” (p 98). The focus of this study was to consider the following research question. How might educators build effective learning communities that:

  • Take into account the type of interactive activity, the use of appropriate technologies and their potential to achieve desired learning outcomes?

  • Support the development of critical thinking in blended learning environments?

Based on the research study and the literature, a pedagogical framework was developed to help inform effective blended learning practices. In addition to this, the study aimed to identify factors that drove students’ approaches to learning and the development of new concepts for explaining the learning processes and their resultant impact on the instructional design. It investigated the research potential of digital archives for assessing the quality of the learning in a blended learning environment.


Theoretical Underpinnings

Constructivism provides a theoretical basis for explaining how students learn and the consequential principles that guide the instructional design in the development of higher order cognition in blended learning environments. The focus shifts to the acquisition of knowledge rather than its transmission. The popularity of constructivism in the teaching and research literature has resulted in disparities among educators who often have their own interpretation of terms leading to individual variations in meaning. Despite numerous constructivist perspectives, a common thread is the belief that learning is an active process, unique to the individual, where knowledge is constructed from information and prior experiences (Cooper, 2004).

Complete Chapter List

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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