Discourse Analysis on Hybrid Learning and Teaching and the Changing Roles of Teachers and Students in Hong Kong

Discourse Analysis on Hybrid Learning and Teaching and the Changing Roles of Teachers and Students in Hong Kong

Xu Zhichang (The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong) and Wang Lixun (The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-380-7.ch017
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Abstract

This chapter is based on a research project on hybrid teaching and learning. This emerging hybrid mode is gaining popularity in tertiary institutions because the new technologies have integrated the classroom and online teaching and learning into an organic productive environment. The research project adopts a discourse analysis approach and intends to investigate issues arising regarding the hybrid mode in a higher education institute in Hong Kong. These issues include 1) the discourse features of teaching and learning in the classroom face-to-face (FTF) and online computer-mediated communication (CMC); 2) the changing roles of teachers and students in the emerging hybrid environment; and 3) the implications of the hybrid mode on the effectiveness of teaching and learning. In addition, this research project also adopts questionnaire surveys among the teaching staff of a language education faculty and students of three courses offered in the hybrid mode to discover their attitudes towards the hybrid teaching and learning mode. The research findings suggest that in the hybrid environments, the traditional roles of the teachers as information providers, knowledge transmitters, supervisors and assessors, and the students as learners, participants, and respondents are still dominant. However, the teachers are also increasingly putting on new ‘hats’ as expert learners, facilitators, course designers and organizers. Apart from being learners, the students are also taking on new roles as topic contributors, meaning negotiators, information providers, strategic communicators and monitors.
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Introduction

The hybrid teaching and learning mode has been gaining popularity worldwide. This mode, consisting of classroom face-to-face (FTF) interaction and computer-medicated communication (CMC), reflects the hybrid nature of our current higher education institutions and “the natural process of how people really learn” (Masie, 2006, p. 26).

The three courses that are under investigation in this research project, namely “Vocabulary Studies”, “Language and Societal Modernization” and “Introduction to Language Studies”, have involved different hybrid teaching and learning modes. The first two courses were taught and delivered through 80% classroom FTF and 20% online CMC by means of synchronous ‘Blackboard’ discussion forums (c.f. Figure 1). The third course was taught and delivered by means of lectures, seminars, online quizzes and wiki-book collaborative academic writing projects (c.f. Figure 2). The online component of the third course involves around 20% to 30% of the teaching and learning time.

Figure 1.

Blackboard online CMC discussion board

Figure 2.

Online wiki-book discussion forum

Since 2002, the language education faculty involved in this research project has been promoting the use of Blackboard in course teaching, i.e., the hybrid mode of teaching and learning. Online discussion has become a very important supplement to face-to-face interaction in the emerging hybrid mode. In addition to the use of Blackboard as an medium for instruction, the research project team have also explored other options on CMC, including online quizzes, and wiki-book collaborative academic writing group projects.

This chapter adopts both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to investigate 1) the discourse features of teaching and learning in the classroom face-to-face (FTF) and online computer-mediated communication (CMC); 2) the changing roles of teachers and students in the emerging hybrid teaching and learning environment; and 3) the implications of the hybrid mode on the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Firstly, the research project is to describe and analyze both classroom FTF and online CMC interactions among teacher-student, student-student, and teacher-student-(re)sources and to discover certain discourse patterns. A discourse analysis (DA) approach is adopted including theories on classroom discourse hierarchy and the IRF/E (Initiation-Response-Feedback/Evaluation) patterning (McCarthy, 2002, pp. 14-17). The discourse “act” (Stenström, 1994, p. 30) analysis is conducted using both classroom FTF and online CMC discourse data. Secondly, the research project is to make use of the discourse analysis to discover the changing roles of teachers and students in the emerging hybrid teaching and learning environment. It can be noted that teachers and students worldwide take up new roles as new technologies are being introduced into education. The hybrid mode has re-configured the traditional constructs on learning, teaching, classroom dynamics, online discourse, and the roles and responsibilities of the teachers and the students. Thirdly, the research project is to address the issues arising in the hybrid teaching and learning mode, and to discuss the implications of the hybrid mode on the effectiveness of teaching and learning in higher education institutions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Changing Roles of Teachers and Students: As a result of the introduction of information technology into the education contexts, new roles of the teachers and students emerge and evolve. The blended mode of teaching and learning has a democratization effect on the teachers and students, which gives rise to the changing roles of teachers and students.

Online Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): Online computer-mediated communication (CMC) stands in contrast with classroom face-to-face (FTF) interaction. It refers to the communication in the education contexts between the teacher and the students and among the students themselves in the form of synchronous or asynchronous discussion forums.

Hybrid Teaching and Learning: The hybrid mode in education is a result of the introduction of information technology into teaching and learning. It essentially consists of classroom face-to-face (FTF) interaction and computer-medicated communication (CMC) for overall teaching and learning purposes.

Classroom Face-to-Face (FTF) Interaction: Classroom face-to-face (FTF) interaction refers to the interaction between the teacher and the students, and among the students themselves in the traditional classroom setting. The term face-to-face (FTF) is used to stand in contrast with computer-mediated communication (CMC) interaction through online channels.

Discourse Analysis: Discourse analysis is used in this chapter as a research approach, studying the relationship between language use in the form of FTF and CMC interactions and the teaching and learning contexts.

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