A CASE STUDY OF BLENDED LEARNING IN SENIOR CYCLE ECONOMICS
Second-level students have grown up with technology as an integral part of their lives both outside and to a lesser extent inside their schooling. The effective integration of ICT into teaching and learning presents both challenges and opportunities for second-level education. Developments in technologies such as VLEs have created an ICT capacity that can support student learning both inside and outside the classroom. Blended learning can facilitate this ICT integration and ensure that the effective face-to-face pedagogy is retained. Economics is a subject that can use ICT to support student learning of key concepts and theories.
This case study investigated students’ views and experiences of ICT in their schooling before and after a blended learning economics (BLE) trial. The study took place in an Irish second-level boys school and the research was both quantitative and qualitative in nature. The data was collected using mixed methods by means of two electronically administered surveys and three focus group interviews.
The findings indicated that these students have a high level of availability and access to ICT and Web 2.0 but their use was mainly for recreational purposes. They were enthusiastic about the BLE trial but the distractability of ICT and the technical issues that arose caused frustration. There were many aspects of BLE that they found beneficial to their learning such as personalisation, out-of-class access, topical links and e-assessment.
The findings of this research indicate that if the technical obstacles can be overcome a learning environment can be designed to suit a wide variety of learning styles. This can be achieved by the creation of a virtual classroom to complement the face-to-face classroom. Many of these students are digital novices in using ICT for learning and also traditional and pragmatic learners conscious of a high stakes examination that has a limited ICT dimension.