Ten Rules of Thumb in Blended and Flexible Learning: A Study on Pedagogies, Challenges, and Changing Perspectives

Ten Rules of Thumb in Blended and Flexible Learning: A Study on Pedagogies, Challenges, and Changing Perspectives

John M. Rafferty (Charles Sturt University, Australia), Jenni Munday (Charles Sturt University, Australia) and Janet Buchan (Charles Sturt University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4205-8.ch003
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Abstract

As emerging Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are increasingly being engaged as pedagogical tools, the role of traditional academic values might be overlooked. This chapter highlights some of the challenges faced by educators as they reconcile their own pedagogical reasoning with the engagement opportunities presented through ICTs. It also reports on a study that followed the introduction of three blended-mode university subjects into teacher education programs over several years. The research resulted in identifying ten considerations for an effective pedagogy to use for flexible and blended learning, and it identified ten organizational limitations of applying good pedagogical practices in pursuing blended-mode learning. The chapter also provides an example of the benefits of engaging a heuristic inquiry process when developing pedagogy. It is argued that a heuristic inquiry process provides a framework that allows for a variety of important perspectives to be recognized and acted upon.
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Setting The Scene

At the start of the study in 2005 there was no established definition of flexible and blended learning at Charles Sturt University (CSU), the university within which this study took place. This is consistent with the research at the time with a multitude of interpretations of blended learning seen across the literature (Oliver & Trigwell, 2005). The CSU Strategy 2007–2011 (CSU, 2007) focused on establishing CSU as a leader in flexible learning and as part of this the Flexible Learning Institute was established. Together with this came attempts to try to get a common, operational, definition of blended and flexible learning. The interpretation of blended and flexible learning with which the researchers began in 2005, however, was a personal one and not necessarily shared by the university as a whole.

To me the word ‘blended’ emphasises the different aspects I try to bring to my teaching. So if I’m teaching internally now I’d try to provide resources for students to continue their learning outside of the classroom and when I’m preparing DE material I’m trying to put a bit more of myself in there. Jenni Munday

Blended learning, in the way I approach it, is really breaking away from traditional lecture and tutorial modes and engaging other technologies and protocols to establish a level of communication that is advantageous to learning …I think it can be summed up as just a change in challenging the traditional lecture/tutorial approaches that we have. John Rafferty

Charles Sturt University is a regional, mixed mode university in New South Wales with approximately two thirds of its students enrolled through Distance Education (DE). The multi-campus nature of the university provides significant challenges for providing good learning experiences for on-campus (internal) students in the face of increasingly limited staffing and student demands for flexibility in the way they would like to learn. There are five main campuses spread across several hundred kilometres with several smaller campuses and study groups in metropolitan centres as well campuses in China and Ontario. Since 1998 all DE subjects have been fully online supported and CSU has progressively adopted new technology to provide the best possible learning experience for its students (Chan & McLoughlin, 2006; Buchan et al., 2009; Dalgarno, 1996).

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