ZEROING IN ON TRUANCY: THE USE OF BLENDED LEARNING TO KEEP TRUANTS IN THE CLASSROOM
Universidad de Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Unauthorized absence from school or truancy is one of the most serious problems in many Western countries. Students from certain social groups (mainly from immigrant or disadvantaged families) tend to become truants, sometimes at a very early age. Educational authorities devise new expensive programs every year to reduce truancy with little or no success. Very often, after months out of the school system, these students are found out by the Social Services and are consequently brought back to the classroom. What happens next is something which we deem counterproductive: They are offered exactly the same kind of teaching which in the first place originated their truancy.
In our opinion, blended learning is an effective answer to some of the problems raised by truancy. The balance we seek to strike in this article involves an effort to keep truants in classrooms and the need to teach them useful things with a value beyond school walls. To that end, we used an LMS (in our case Moodle) which provides the unique possibility of combining the aims teachers pursue together with the motivation truant students need to work with a sense of fulfillment. The interactive tasks included in our LMS show a number of advantages. First, these tasks are less boring, more engaging, more motivating, and often more demanding than traditional tasks. Second, besides conveying some factual information, they are also useful in teaching techniques with a great value beyond school walls. Finally, these tasks can be designed to suit the singular needs of each child or group of children, in this case truants, which make them more effective and precise than general tasks.
We review some of the main advantages of blended learning, which we consider well suited for the troublesome area of truancy, and give an account of a project being carried out at the moment. Although the project is far from being completed, feedback so far is positive, according to the opinions of both teachers and students.
Keywords: blended learning, e learning.