Blended for Student Engagement and Retention: The Case of Cinema and Visual Culture and Healthy Lifestyle Studies

Blended for Student Engagement and Retention: The Case of Cinema and Visual Culture and Healthy Lifestyle Studies

Ishmael I. Munene, Flower Darby, John Doherty
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6280-3.ch007
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Facetiously described as the “third generation” of distance learning, blended learning is now the new kid on the block in the deployment of technology to support teaching and learning. Its versatility as a pedagogical strategy for creating learner-centered instruction lies in the capacity to exploit the potentials of both the traditional face-to-face instruction and online learning modality in order to provide students with multiple pathways of learning. Yet, developing a blended course to take advantage of these duo capabilities is a monumental challenge for faculty. This chapter presents an analysis of approaches and models employed by faculty at Northern Arizona University to develop and deliver two blended courses as part of the institution's strategy of using technology to enhance undergraduate student engagement and retention. The analysis shows that a multimodal approach that infuses technologies and media and a proactive institutional policy in favor of blended learning, coupled with strategic faculty development, provides the best pathway to developing robust blended courses that are truly learner-centered.
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Blended Learning Through The Scholarly Lenses

The recent avalanche of scholarly literature on blended learning is indicative of the centrality that this pedagogical model has attained in the discourse on teaching. It also gives a false impression that this teaching approach has been late in coming. A scrutiny of literature, however, suggests that a “Johnny-come-lately” nomenclature for blended learning is off the mark. It ignores the fact that face-to-face instruction in combination with aspects of a non-classroom technology-mediated delivery system has been in use for the last couple of decades. A sense of recent novelty in pedagogical practices is driven largely by new pedagogical emphasis (from teacher-led to student-centered learning paradigm), new technological innovations (the internet, social media and personal computers including mobile computing devices) and new learning theories (brain-based learning and social constructivism). All these have elicited a reconsideration of traditional approaches to teaching and learning thereby contributing to a paradigm shift in higher education (Buckley, 2002; DeZure, 2000; Barr & Tagg, 1995).

It is now accepted that the platform that has provided the node for the evolution of these new teaching and learning models is the online environment. This environment challenges the traditional approach to teaching and, thus, invites a reconceptualization of pedagogical practices. This is in contrast to earlier technologies such as instructional television that replicated the traditional face-to-face environment (Dzuiban, Hartman, & Moskal, 2004). It is not surprising, therefore, that online-based teaching is now the fastest growing model of providing higher education globally.

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