THE BORDERLAND – HOW BLURRED ECOTONES INFLUENCE STUDY ACTIVITIES

S. Dau

University College North (DENMARK)
In blended learning environments undergraduate students have to adapt to different learning environments and study within cultures where habits and embodied actions are inhabited. These environments are furthermore virtual/analogue, formal/informal and social/individual. Therefore, a borderland of blurred ecotones arises, causing spatial and vertical troubles in student efforts to navigate this environment.

The aim of the paper is to address this borderland of blurred ecotones based on empirical data from a longitudinal study of undergraduates’ knowledge development. The research approach is based on an ecological-geographical epistemology.

The research question addressed is: How do blurred ecotones affect students study activities in the blended learning environment?

The longitudinal study examined is following the undergraduate students during their first two years of University College including periods of internship. Data is based on 19 focus group interviews, 4 observations studies and continuous desk top studies.

The interpretation is based on theoretical existing knowledge of blurred ecotones and derived empirical data from a doctoral dissertation of student’s wayfinding in blended learning environments.

The findings reveal that students study activities and thus formal knowledge development are disrupted and disturbed by habits, navigation difficulties, access, vertical and horizontal behavior, formal and informal activities and sociality. Moreover, it is illustrated how students try to overcome their struggles in navigating the blurred ecotones.

This research adds new knowledge to the existing knowledge of students’ navigations in blended learning environments and raise new considerations to take into account within the educational field.

Based on the findings it is suggested that educational stakeholders address the blurred ecotones and offers the students development of skills to handle these blurred ecotones within blended learning environments.