Driver or Drifter? Two Case Studies of the Blended Learning Practices in Higher Education

Driver or Drifter? Two Case Studies of the Blended Learning Practices in Higher Education

Esyin Chew (University of Glamorgan, UK) and Norah Jones (University of Glamorgan, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-380-7.ch005
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The emergence of blended learning has played a role as either driver or drifter to higher education (HE) in the modern world. This chapter explores the blended learning practices by investigating two higher educational institutions in the UK and Malaysia. First, the strategies and practices related to blended learning are clearly analysed and compared. A large amount of qualitative data extracted from academics’ experience is discussed. Primarily, the findings firmly show that blended learning enables educators to revisit and to rethink their professional ethos and values, and redesign their learning and teaching where necessary. Such revisiting and rethinking facilitate the awareness and praxis of blended learning (or vice-versa: blended learning facilitates the revisit and redesign). The in-depth discussions based on academics’ voices, and reflective matrix summary from the case studies described in this chapter will act as evidence of the blueprint for blended learning policy makers and practitioners.
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Background Of The Case Studies And Research Method

This research was conducted based on Yin’s (1989, 2003) method of case study. The case studies were selected from two countries, United Kingdom (UK) and Malaysia. Two HEIs were surveyed in this research: University A and University B. Tables 1 and 2 summarise some comparative facts and figures of both case studies:

Table 1.
Summary of some key facts (UoL, 2008; UM, 2008)
University AUniversity B
Gain University Status19571962
BackgroundCivic universityNational university
Nature of the UniversityOld university, research-ledOld university, research-led
Number of Students (2007)19,00227,498
Number of Academic Staffs (2007)1,1861,921
Total Number of Staffs (2007)3,3555,053
National Ranking (Guardian University Guide, 2008; WDE, 2006)21
(out of 120 universities)
(out of 53 universities)
The World Top 500 University Ranking (THES-QS, 2007)185246

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blended Learning: The combination of face-to-face learning and teaching mediated by technology. The thoughtful integration of face-to-face classroom and web-based learning opportunity by fundamental redesign and an optimal (re)design approach by rethinking and restructuring teaching and learning.

All-in-One Blended Learning System: An ideal combination of VLE and PLE with all facilities in one system - learning and teaching materials, social networking technologies, PLE, learning object or application plug-in; FAQ or knowledge-based system and integrated facilities such as be able to integrate with student registration, attendance and timetabling system.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): Pervasive terminology in the UK which represents a web-based system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting, a well-designed learning and monitoring space for educators and student such as Blackboard and Moodle.

Personalised Learning Environment (PLE): An upgraded version of VLE where such environment is learner-centred, powered by web 2.0 technology and learners be able to take control of and manage their own learning.

Podcasting: From the words iPod and broadcasting. In the educational context, it means the learning and teaching materials is delivered and shared in audio content to iPods, other portable media players or computers, so that it can be listened and learnt at the learner’s convenience at anytime at anywhere.

Higher Education (HE): Universities or tertiary education.

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