Ghana Technology University College (GHANA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 3767-3775
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly wireless broadband Internet access and communicating devices, are offering higher education institutions a greater opportunity to implement several innovative learning initiatives.

Two of such technology enabled learning initiatives that have emerged and are spreading rapidly are:
i. Blended, or Hybrid Learning - an approach to learning where Internet based, and face-to-face learning activities are integrated in ways to facilitate learning and thus achieve learning objectives, and
ii. Flipped Learning - an approach which aims at improving learning outcomes by reversing the traditional teaching setup: students acquire basic content outside of class, and then work together in class on application-oriented activities.

Ever since their emergence following widespread adoption of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, a growing number of educators are using these two pedagogical strategies to help engender active, engaging and anytime-anyplace learning environments, particularly to adult learners. As a matter of course, research works accompany these innovations, most aimed at measuring learning outcomes both in the cognitive and affective domains. Findings of these research works generally portray a positive outlook for technology use in education in the coming years.

It is however worth noting that, whereas mainstreaming technology-enabled active learning environments into academia is becoming a norm in the developed and other emerging economies, same cannot be said of the case in the least developed countries, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Majority of higher educational institutions in this sub-region are grappling with financial constraints, limited Internet bandwidth, high bandwidth costs, unreliable power and communication infrastructure etc. Under these conditions, widespread implementation of technology enabled teaching and learning strategies such as blended and flipped learning represents a considerable challenge to educational institutions. This challenge also reflects in the dearth of research works aimed at testing different technology-enabled learning models and establishing which model(s) work best in this environment.

It is against this backdrop that this exploratory study was carried out by delivering two concurrent graduate level courses - one in a blended mode, and the other in a flipped mode - to a group of students at a private university in Ghana, and then assessing learning outcomes as well as student insights and preferences regarding their learning experiences. Sixty-four (64) students and one instructor participated in the study. Student final grades as well as their reflections of course activities, midway through the semester, and at the end of the semester, served as the primary data sources for the study.

Analysis of the data, coupled with the experiences the instructor (who is also the author of this study) gained in designing and delivering the courses, revealed that students preferred flipped learning to blended learning. Also, on the whole, the students performed better (though not significantly) in the flipped course than in the blended course. Implications of these findings for practice and further research are discussed within the context of educational technology implementation in Ghanaian higher education in particular, and Sub-Saharan Africa in general.
Technology-Enabled Learning, Blended Learning, Flipped Learning, Exploratory Research, Ghana, Higher Education, Sub-Saharan Africa.