ASSESSING BLENDED LEARNING ON TEACHING A GRADUATE COURSE AT THE ARABIAN GULF UNIVERSITY DISTANCE TEACHING & TRAINING PROGRAM
The Distance Teaching and Training is one of the programs of the College of Graduate Studies at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU). It utilizes a blended learning approach (the combination of face to face and online learning) as its main strategy for delivering the program contents to the students. This approach is adopted so as to provide the students with opportunities to practice the principles and knowledge which they study. In addition, instructors believe that this approach would provide opportunities for deep and flexible learning. The program requires the students to share and reflect on their learning experiences at Blackboard virtual learning environment, the related websites proposed by their teachers and the modules' workbooks. The present study describes and assesses the blended learning strategy as it has been recently utilized in one of the modules, namely the Learning Theory module offered to the first year diploma and master's degree students who registered for their first semester of the academic year 2009-2010, 2010-2011. Results of the study showed that blended learning can be an effective pedagogy as well as an effective learning approach for graduate students. More specifically, the target students reported a high degree of satisfaction with materials and learning strategy. The paper presents recommendations for improving practice of blended learning at AGU and similar institutions.