Comparing IT and Non-IT Faculty and Students' Perceptions on Blended Learning

Comparing IT and Non-IT Faculty and Students' Perceptions on Blended Learning

Eugenia M.W. Ng (Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-852-9.ch018
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Abstract

The successful implementation of blended learning depends on many factors, but the interactions between academics and students far outweigh technology and all other factors put together. However, so far, no satisfactory research has been conducted relating to teacher education or to providing a comprehensive analysis on academic and student teachers’ perceptions. For the purpose of this study, thirteen academics were interviewed or attended focus group meetings to share their views on blended learning. Some of them were classified as information technology (IT) academics whilst others were not. The academics had a very positive attitude towards the concept of blended learning and there were no notable differences between IT and non-IT academics. Their findings are also cross referenced with findings from students who participated in a questionnaire survey. There were a total of seventy student teachers, who participated in the survey. Forty-four of them were regarded as IT students whilst the rest was regarded as non-IT students. These two groups of students gave high ratings on most of the questionnaire items. There were some minor differences between the two groups of students but the differences were not very statistically significant. These thought-provoking findings not only serve as practical and beneficial information for The Hong Kong Institute of Education, but they also serve as an invaluable source of knowledge and information for all individuals in the field of teacher education.
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Literature Review

Koschmann (1996) suggests that we are “currently witnessing the emergence of a new paradigm in IT research” (p. 10). He further suggests that this newly emerging paradigm is built on the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and communication science, which focus on language, culture and the nature of the social setting. Indeed, there are different approaches to adopting IT in education and the main advantage lies in the flexibility and convenience of these approaches. IT plays an important role in supporting learning, such as the provision of information in multiple modes, utilizing technologies as mind tools, and scaffolding conversations virtually with anyone in the world (Jonassen, 2000; Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999). Communication exchanges such as e-mail, wikis and discussion forums provide a flexible and convenient arena for single or multiple users, to discuss a range of topics, synchronously or asynchronously. Messages can be stored, edited and retrieved easily at the discretion of users, without the requirement of sophisticated software. Furthermore, electronic communications enhance learning by enabling students with diverse backgrounds and from differing locations, to obtain and subsequently offer multiple perspectives and solutions to various problems (Lipponen, 2002). In fact, a number of researchers (Applefield, Huber, & Moadlem, 2000; Muukkonen, Hakkarainen, & Lakkala, 2005; Scardamalia, 2002; Woodruff, Brett, MacDonald, & Nason, 1998) have also found that learning environments facilitate student-centered learning.

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