Revitalizing Blended and Self-Directed Learning Among Adult Learners Through the Distance Education Mode of Learning in Ghana

Revitalizing Blended and Self-Directed Learning Among Adult Learners Through the Distance Education Mode of Learning in Ghana

Isaac Kofi Biney
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6940-5.ch010
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Higher education institutions (HEIs) are witnessing increasing participation of non-traditional learners, learning by distance education (DE) mode. Blended learning (BL) strategy is adapted to create opportunities for adult learners to improve knowledge, skills, and intellectual capacities to impact, among others, productivity at workplace. This chapter explores the use of technology to conceptualize BL and self-directed learning (SDL). It discussed blended learning as practiced in the global north and the global south. It examined SDL and focused attention on blended learning as practiced in HEIs, using University of Ghana as a case study. It identified issues involved in blended learning and mapped up solutions in revitalizing self-directed learning culture among the young adults in Ghana. The chapter concludes that the state-of-the-art computer laboratories which power the Sakai LMS should be refurbished and retooled to deepen BL and SDL culture among adult learners in Ghana.
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Globally, adult learning by distance education (DE) mode is witnessing increasing participation among the non-traditional learners (Allen & Seaman, 2017), and universities are increasingly delivering distance learning programs using technology (Chambers, 2010). Hence from 2000-2009, adult learners in the United State of America (USA) higher education institutions (HEIs) witnessed a 30% increase in enrolment amongst the 25 years and over group, making up 39%-42% of the total enrolment (Snyder & Dillow, 2012). Adult learners taking DE courses comprise 29.7% of all HEIs enrolment as of 2015 (Allen & Seaman, 2017). Blended learning (BL) is being adopted in HEIs (Graham, 2019), and information and communication technology (ICT) provides opportunities to create communities of learners that support engagement and collaboration (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013). At the University of Ghana, the DE mode of learning which started as traditional face-to-face learning in 2007 went blended in 2013 supported by Sakai as a Learning Management System (LMS), thus making the University of Ghana a dual mode university. It has been seven years since the University of Ghana went blended in delivery instructions and contents to adult learners in the eleven Learning Centres. At the University of Ghana, adult learners pursuing degree and diploma programs by DE mode represented 30.2% of the overall students admitted during 2017/2018 academic year (University of Ghana Basic Statistics Unit Report, 2018). The aim of this chapter focuses on revitalizing BL to improve the young adults’ self-directed learning (SDL) drive in Ghana. But what really is BL?

According to Kim (2016), BL is the fusion of online and face-to-face contact time between teaching staff and students which provides a means to enhance quality, equity, and access to lifelong learning opportunities. Merwe et al., (2015) see BL as the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face experiences with technology-enhanced learning experiences. BL is a student-centred, self-paced, flexible and multimodal approach to learning (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008; Neals, 2010). It is a kind of teaching practice that interconnects a traditional face-to-face mode of teaching and web-based teaching and learning (Embi et al., 2014). Garrison and Vaughan (2008) see BL as “the organic integration of thoughtfully selected complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies” (as cited in Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes & Garrison, 2013, p. 1). It is an effective combination of different modes of delivery, models of teaching, and styles of learning (Proctor, 2003). BL is associated with models of delivery which requires students to engage with timetabled onsite learning activities across the academic year in addition to engaging with digital learning activities between these times (The Quality Assurance for Higher Education, 2020). Agreement seems widespread that BL integrates face-to face and online learning (Graham, 2019); hence Bosch et al., (2020) agree that a BL strategy to engaging adult learners in this time of COVID-19 has the potential to provide better educational solutions in challenging context. Thus, BL promises to deliver instructions which seek to address issues such as social distancing, financial difficulties, and limited physical capacity at institutions (Bosch et al., 2020). Many have predicted that BL would “emerge as the predominant model of the future” (Watson, 2008, p. 3), and become the ‘new traditional model’ (Ross & Gage, 2006, p. 167), or the ‘new normal’ in course delivery (Norberg, 2017; Norberg et al., 2011, p. 207).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Global South: Developing countries in Africa, in particular, which lack resources to establish state–of-the art computer laboratories among others, maintained them, refurbished and retooled with new computers and accessories every five years.

Blended Learning: It describes different models of delivery which use a mix of methods, essentially face-to-face and online learning to engage students in learning.

Ghana: A country situated in the sub-Saharan Africa, with a population size of 30.0 million. It is boarded in the north by Burkina Faso, east by Togo, west by Cote d’Ivoire, and south by The Gulf of Guinea.

Distance Education: A form of institution-based formal education where the adult learner is separated, and where interactive technology enabled devices are used to connect learners, resources, and facilitators.

Conceptual Framework: An expose’ defining the boundary and features of a phenomenon.

Self-Directed Learning: A process of learning in which people or individuals takes primary initiative for planning, carrying out, and evaluating their own experiences.

Higher Education Institutions: Tertiary institutions which provide dual mode approach to teaching and learning to students to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to make them develop critical thinking skills, empowering knowledge, and digital skills to become useful in their communities and impact productivity at workplace.

Global North: Developed countries, including Western Europe, North American countries, Australia, South Eastern Asian Countries, China, South Africa among others who are resource rich countries which can afford state-of-the art computer laboratories to aid blended learning in all levels of education.

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