A. Ahmed, M.F. Ahsan, F. Saleem, R. Sultan

The Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (PAKISTAN)
Higher education currently faces a plethora of challenges, ranging from the demand for wider participation and engagement of learners at the tertiary level to moving towards lifelong learning, continuing professional development and further education. e-learning is generally seen as offering solutions to these challenges. Yet e-learning can be a solution for educators, particularly in developing contexts, confronted with the daunting task of not only making learning accessible but relevant and of high quality? Particularly when innovation involves sustainable change that can occur at multiple levels. This paper focuses on presenting the findings of a study that considered this question. The study was conducted in a multi-campus private university, in Karachi, Pakistan. It sought to explore the impact of e-learning on the teaching and learning of academic English with nursing students with an intermediate level of language proficiency. The study focused on trialing a curriculum intervention where the content and delivery of an academic English [reading and writing] course was delivered through a learning management system and by using Web 2.0 tools in this context. The data collected in three phases: pre-intervention, intervention and post intervention provide insights on developing and designing e-learning courses specifically for English but also generally for other teaching / learning initiatives institutions working in similar contexts The paper argues that a significant effect in the teaching and learning of academic English in the context of developing countries is attainable using a blended learning approach. The possibility of reaching out to learners in remote areas in order to give them access to education is real. However, a totally online approach may present certain pedagogical implications that could prove challenging because of infrastructural limitations in such contexts. The paper supports the view that technology is a vehicle and not the driver for change and innovation. It also recommends further research to evaluate the quality of learning between traditional and online /blended approaches used for teaching and learning.