‘BLENDED LEARNING’ IN UNDERGRADUATE MANAGEMENT EDUCATION: THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF UTILISING FACE-TO-FACE (FTF) INTERACTIONS WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
University of Waikato (NEW ZEALAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The paper examines the application of ‘blended learning’ in undergraduate management courses utilising Face to Face (FTF) teacher-student interactions and online interactions using Mobile Technology (m-learning). Research points to the impact of ‘disruptive technologies’ in education including the use of wikis, blogs, social media, mobile learning devices, open source tools and ‘cloud’ computing.The paper examines the application of a ‘blend’ of FTF interactions and mobile learning (m-learning) devices in undergraduate management courses and the response of students to the initiative. Prior to the use of mobile devices, access to material, and communication between students and lecturer took place through the Moodle platform. Feedback from students however indicated that they found it slow, cumbersome and ‘unfriendly.’ This led to the decision to use mobile devices connected not to the institutional-based server but to the ’cloud.’ Students were encouraged to bring and use mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and Smart phones in both classes and tutorials. Facebook group pages were established where all course materials - lecture notes, presentations, video links, case material, communication links, etc. - were posted. Communication between lecturer, tutors and students in ‘virtual’ lectures and tutorials used collaborative platforms such as Googledocs, Facebook and Glass Board. These enabled the lecturer and tutors to communicate seamlessly with students in ‘lectures’ and ‘tutorials’, in groups, sub-groups and individually. Interactive online ‘lectures’ and ‘tutorials’ made up 60% of the sessions with the remaining lectures and tutorials delivered on a FTF basis.
Data for the study was collected through two surveys and face to face interviews. Student responses to the use of mobile devices were collected through a Googledoc survey via a FB link. Within three days of posting to the link, 301 usable responses were received, 75% of the total number of students in the papers involved. The results show the range and use students made of their mobile devices for learning purposes and their positive response to the use of m-learning applications.
A second survey was conducted with students on their response to ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning through the use of ‘virtual’ lectures and tutorials. Students were over-whelming in favour of the move to a ‘blended’ approach especially with the flexibility, convenience and ease of learning that the ‘virtual’ events made possible.
Finally data was gathered from tutors responsible for facilitating the online lectures and tutorials which required them to adapt to an entirely different role. The approach described in this paper, particularly the tutor’s e-facilitator role, might be described as ‘subversive or disruptive’ in that it ‘re-defined’ the nature and purpose of the ‘lecture’ and ‘tutorial’ and required a fundamental re-evaluation of the role of teacher, tutor and learner.
The major challenges faced are discussed including the heavy investment of time, the challenge of using new technologies, assessing ‘virtual’ events, the raised expectations of students for greater flexibility and, the opportunities and risks associated with such innovations in a traditional tertiary setting.
Keywords: ‘blended’ learning, mobile learning, ‘disruptive technologies’, collaborative learning, ‘cloud computing’.