Teacher and Student Responses to Blended Environments

Teacher and Student Responses to Blended Environments

Guglielmo Trentin (Institute for Educational Technology, Italian National Research Council, Italy) and Steve Wheeler (University of Plymouth, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-296-1.ch006
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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 blended solutions is interpreted in the Italian networkbased education context. Results of research carried out at some Italian Universities about various approaches to technology enhanced learning (TEL) are described which account for an increasing tendency of teachers to choose blended solutions. On the basis of interviews with 250 teachers some important blended solutions sustainability factors are analyzed pertaining to the pedagogical, professional, socio- cultural, informal dimensions as well as the content, organizational, economic and technological. In the second section of the chapter, an overview of blended and personalised learning in the United Kingdom is presented, with a critical review of some of the recent British research into the efficacy of learning management system (LMS) based blended learning approaches. Central to the chapter section is a discussion regarding the future of the LMS and how the network generation is migrating toward social networking sites and mobile technology to connect with their peers. The chapter finishes with the suggestion that personalised learning environments (PLEs) will be their preferred blended learning and communication approach.
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Blended Solutions And Network-Based Education: An Italian Perspective

Research on the educational use of ICT in Italy, has shown how organizational, logistic and economic aspects are often considered as one of the key elements in promoting the sustainability of network-based education (NBE) (Trentin, 2008). However, it is known that to guarantee appreciable quality in NBE, these elements should not precede those more specifically related to the pedagogical dimension of NBE (Seufert and Euler, 2003). Whenever this happens, the choice of pedagogical approach is generally conditioned and channeled towards a NBE based primarily on the individual (and passive) study of educational materials (e-content) (Collins & Van der Wende, 2002; Howell et al., 2004).

Despite being usually considered cheaper, content-driven approaches almost always curb the quality of the learning process, since they deprive it of its other important key dimension, namely social interaction (Varis, 2004). If the social dimension of learning is to be fostered in NBE, then the network should not merely be seen as a means of distributing educational materials but also as a resource that is able to facilitate distance interaction with both teachers and other students (Zemsky and Massy, 2004; Attwell, 2005).

This result can be obtained by adopting networked collaborative learning (NCL) strategies. The term NCL gives a clear idea of how extensively the computer network is used in the learning process; participants interact in a fully-fledged learning community (formal or informal), which helps them to overcome their isolation and enhances their contribution to the group (Stahl, 2006).

In NCL, phases of individual study alternate with remote interaction between one or more virtual classes. This is an approach that combines aspects of traditional distance learning (individual study and possible remote connection with tutors) with substantial interaction between participants (teachers, students and experts), a characteristic typical of face-to-face teaching (Harasim et al., 1995).

However, “pure” NCL strategies are not always easy to apply. There are several reasons for this. One is that some subjects are not particularly well suited to network communication. Another is that course participants might not be used to and/or willing to join the particular communication dynamics of courses that are almost entirely based on written interaction. Furthermore, attaining high quality standards of learning often requires time for direct face-to-face social interaction between students and teachers.

In Italy this is a very popular stance taken towards company training (Ecipa, 2005) where there is also the need to combine different media and social interaction modes in order to diversify the strategies aimed at providing solutions, in real time, to everyday professional needs. In this sense company training has a certain preference for training activities which (Ecipa, 2005):

  • Are not run totally at a distance;

  • Include group activities;

  • Feature strong tutor and expert presence;

  • Integrate formal and informal learning.

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