Implementing a blended learning approach in a further education college : a case study
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Blended or hybrid learning refers to learning which is provided through any combination of instructional modalities, both physical and virtual. It combines concepts, methods, processes, tools and pedagogic styles to achieve a holistic learner centred approach to teaching and learning and has become evermore dynamic thanks to the evolution of web 2.0 technologies and open source software. The operational delivery of blended learning can also be supported by the use of a Course Management System on both an educational and administrative level. The purpose of this case study was to examine the development, documentation and implementation of such a system of flexible and personalised blended learning into a further education setting, which could then be used to increase learner choice in diverse aspects of their learning experience. The further education sector was chosen as the setting for this research because of the diversity it provides both in the courses it offers and the learners that are involved. Such diversity is suited to the socioconstructivist principles that underlie the concept of blended learning. The research was carried out at a further education college located in Co. Westmeath, Ireland. The research group comprised of 87 first year students attending a FETAC Social Care Course along with teachers involved with the social care course and college management. During a 5 month period, the Moodle CMS was used to introduce the participants to various aspects of blended learning. Key findings were determined from a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data and include the opinion that technologies such as an open source CMS and innovations emerging from the read/write web can be of benefit to the success of a blended learning approach. However, care must be taken in the timing and implementation of change processes and adequate training and support must be made available to participants involved.
TypeMaster thesis (Taught)