Introducing a Teaching Innovation to Enhance Students' Analytical and Research Skills: A Blended Learning Initiative

Introducing a Teaching Innovation to Enhance Students' Analytical and Research Skills: A Blended Learning Initiative

Hela Miniaoui (University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE) and Avneet Kaur (University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5472-1.ch002
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The term “blended learning” has gained considerable interest in recent years as a description of particular forms of teaching combined with technology. This chapter reports in some detail the experience of a small group of undergraduate learners as they progress through their Bachelor course at University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) in the United Arab Emirates. In particular, this study looks at discussion forum approach as a blended learning initiative and what that entails to the learners in terms of making the subject more interactive and enhancing students' analytical and research skills. From the findings, a conclusion has been drawn regarding the role of the Blackboard tool in learning by helping students to obtain a deep sense of understanding of how to operate in a virtual team despite the challenges.
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Blended learning is facilitated by the effective combination of different modes of delivery, models of teaching and styles of learning, and founded on transparent communication amongst all parties involved with a course (Heinze & Procter, 2004).

According to Hisham et al. (2006), the definition of Blended learning is varied and contrasting. Some studies (Whitelock and Jefts, 2003; Alavi and Gallupe, 2003; Arbaugh, 2005; Peterson, 2003) referred to Blended learning as the integrated combination of traditional learning with Web-based online approaches. Singh (2003) defined Blended learning as models that combine various delivery modes.

Blended learning is being used as a combination of face-to-face learning including hard copy study materials and online learning with a variety of online resources (Bawaneh, 2011).

Many works have focused on the definition of the main functions of blended learning systems and we choose here to mention the classification of (Siemens, 2004):

  • Different levels of permissions for users (students, teachers, tutors, administrator, visitor).

  • Search functions (simple search and advanced search).

  • Multimedia application for digital material.

  • Collaborative workspace.

  • Knowledge share and reuse.

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