Enhancing Education in the UAE through Blended Learning

Enhancing Education in the UAE through Blended Learning

Rana Tamim (Zayed University, UAE)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1984-5.ch014
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Abstract

The advent of technology has changed the landscape in post-secondary academic institutions and technology-enhanced university courses are becoming the norm. While Distance Education was previously restricted to traditional correspondence having limited options for student interaction with the instructor and no interaction with other learners, technology’s progression changed the context drastically. One of the emerging delivery modes is blended learning which combines the advantages of technology enhanced face-to-face instruction and electronic supported learning. The chapter offers a general overview of the influence of technological development on the post-secondary Distance Education sector and presents the advantages of the blended learning approach. Insights are offered from a UAE e-learning University case study while discussing implications for university professors and faculty members pertinent to instructional design and course delivery.
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Introduction

Research is not needed to demonstrate that the advent of technology has changed the landscape in post-secondary academic institutions. At the present time, technology-enhanced university courses (in-class and/or out-of-class) are becoming the norm. Computer technology tools are used for presentation, content organization and delivery, knowledge search and retrieval, collaborative activities and knowledge building, in addition to synchronous and asynchronous communication. This is true for universities around the world, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is no exception.

One of the main sectors that have been highly influenced by the advent of computer technology and Internet throughout the world is Distance Education (DE). Prior to the technological innovation boom and the widespread use of the World Wide Web, DE was mainly limited to correspondence between the student and the professor through regular mail. Students received course content and submitted assignments by mail while having limited interaction with the instructor and almost no interaction with other students. Technology’s progression changed the DE context drastically, and educational institutions are increasingly taking advantage of developments in computer and communication technologies leading to a variety of modes through which learning is provided. One of the most prominent emerging delivery modes is blended learning which combines the advantages of technology enhanced face-to-face instruction and electronic supported learning. Within such contexts, three major forms of interaction (student-instructor, student-student, and student-content) are highly important for effective learning to occur (Moore, 1989; Moore & Kearsley, 2005).

This chapter offers a general overview of the influence of technological development on the post-secondary DE educational sector around the world and the UAE, including its influence on the advent of blended learning. The chapter will also draw on research findings pertaining to ensuring the successful support of the three forms of interactivity in course design. Finally, the chapter will highlight how blended learning can support the successful transformation of the Arab educational systems from the current traditional status to more vibrant and innovative ones by offering insights from a case study of an e-learning university in the UAE.

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