Master in Innovative Tourism Development: A Blended Learning Experience in the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo

Master in Innovative Tourism Development: A Blended Learning Experience in the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo

Sandra Vieira Vasconcelos (Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Portugal), Ana Balula (University of Aveiro, Portugal) and Pedro Almeida (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0783-3.ch024
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This chapter analyses a Portuguese HEI's first experience with blended learning. Focusing on the Master in Innovative Tourism Development currently being held at the Superior School of Technology and Management of the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, it presents the institutional background and rationale behind the course's implementation, identifying its strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas of potential development. Based on an evaluation research carried out throughout the course's first three editions and that involved students, faculty and institutional leaders, it summarizes the main results of a long term-study, putting forth a set of recommendations for improvements and defining potential areas of intervention in future editions of the course.
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Over the last decade, in order to meet the challenges of an increasingly globalized world and technological evolution, HEI have had to adapt and review their instructional models and offer. This is particularly evident in Europe, where most institutions are also facing the need of complying with the principles of the Bologna Declaration and the improvement of the overall quality and quality assurance processes in Higher Education. Therefore, moving away from the idea that education in European institutions is mainly based on conservative models, traditionally relying on face-to-face and expository models, more and more HEI are gradually shifting towards the adoption of more student-centred and flexible approaches.

Overall, these changes have had an impact on the way stakeholders perceive the curricula and content distribution. Considering that learning no longer relies solely on the number of contact hours and classroom activities, most HEI have turned to ICT in order to enhance learning experiences, facilitate off-campus interaction and develop students’ autonomy and collaboration skills.

Considered to “offer great opportunities for using student centred approaches” (Bielschowsky et al., 2009, p.10), distance and blended learning have come to play a very important role in HEI, as they support the creation of constructivist learning environments “where learners (…) work together and support each other as they use a variety of tools and information resources in their guided pursuit of learning goals and problem-solving activities” (Wilson, 1996, p. 5).

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