ENGAGING STUDENT’S LEARNING THROUGH A BLENDED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) (IRELAND)
Within the furniture manufacturing industry a high proportion of occupational accidents are as a result of non-compliance to machining regulations and incorrect work practices. Safety training plays an important role in reducing accidents and promoting a safety culture within this sector. This article details an action research study undertaken during the first year of a new Degree in Timber Product Technology, which set out to evaluate the impact a blended learning environment and reusable learning objects (RLOs) could have on promoting safe work practices and a safety culture amongst students. A constructivist approach was taken and the module design was underpinned by Kolb’s model of experiential learning, placing more responsibility on the learners for their own learning and encouraging them to reflect upon their experiences. The findings of this study suggest that students with prior industry machining experience required a change in their attitude to machining which was achieved within the practical labs, while students with no machining experiences were intimidated by the learning environment in the practical labs but whose learning experience was enhanced through the use of RLOs and other eLearning resources. In order to reduce occupational accidents in the furniture manufacturing industry the promotion of continuing professional development (CPD) training courses is required in order to change workers’ behaviour to machine safety and encourage lifelong learning so as to promote a safety culture within the furniture manufacturing industry.