TO BAKE A GOOD CAKE, FIRST GET THE ‘MIX’ RIGHT: ‘EXPLORING THE BOUNDARIES OF ‘ANYWHERE, ANYTIME’ ‘BLENDED’ LEARNING’ IN UNDERGRADUATE MANAGEMENT EDUCATION
University of Waikato, Waikato Management School (NEW ZEALAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:‘If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all ingredients in the right proportions.’
Adopting a ‘blended’ learning approach has been the subject of considerable research and discussion which might suggest that it is firmly understood and entrenched in practice but to paraphrase George Gershwin, ‘it ain’t necessarily so.’
This paper asks: when designing ‘blended’ learning what is the most effective ‘mix’ of ingredients? How much of the ‘blend’ should reflect Face to Face (FTF) interactions? What proportion should be ‘online’? When - and how - should the ‘ingredients’ be changed or added to the ‘mix’? What are the boundaries to flexible ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning?
The paper reports a three-year journey of applying an ‘anywhere, anytime’ ‘blend’ of FTF and online technology in undergraduate management classes. Preparatory material - notes, presentational material, videos, case studies, communication links and online tasks - are accessed via the ‘cloud.’ Collaborative platforms ‘mesh’ with interactive online ‘lectures’ and ‘tutorials’ which comprise 60% of the classes with the remainder delivered via conventional classes and tutorials. The ‘online’ components are available weekly, any time, day or night.
Three Googledoc surveys were conducted during the period collecting responses from 400 students to the ‘anywhere, anytime’ approach. The results provide strong support for online ‘lectures and tutorials’ citing the benefits of increased engagement, flexibility, and convenience. A minority of students indicated a preference for FTF tutorials over the online variant citing the opportunity for personal interaction with tutors.
Data was gathered from tutors who facilitate the online ‘lectures and tutorials’ which required them to adopt a very different role from that of the ‘traditional tutor.’ In this regard, the technology is truly ‘disruptive’ re-defining not only the nature of the lecture and tutorial but also the role of the lecturer, tutor and student.
Major challenges associated with the approach include the large investment of time required for preparation and facilitation, the challenge of applying new technologies, the difficulty of assessing online learning, managing student expectations as the ‘mix’ was tweaked during the semester and the risks associated with adopting an innovative approach in a traditional tertiary setting.
Keywords: Blended learning, mobile learning, ‘disruptive technologies’, collaborative learning, ‘cloud computing’.