Preparing learning communities to thrive beyond blended classrooms : a longitudinal case study
Author(s)Napier-Psomas, Wallace Neal
Keywordsblended learning community
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AbstractPh.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
This study explores the character, meaning, and impact of community using the lived experiences of three blended learning community members who successfully completed a two-year undergraduate education degree and teacher certification cohort program. Their perceptions, sense-making, and culture were compiled into a case study that describes the lasting effects of their learning community subsequent to completing their program and four years after their entry into the workforce as teachers. Because perceptions and opinions were reported in hindsight, participants were able to describe aspects that have endured over time. This extended "snapshot in time" offers a more holistic picture to help uncover some of the intricacies and complexities of the term community as well as the people who comprise and experience it. Using the lens of adult learner theory and recent literature on communities as well as a Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, developed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000), the results of this study show that learning community models and practices need to be reconsidered. While there is support for current models of learning communities, they tend to be over-simplified to the point that critical variables are often missing. For example, in current learning community models, lived experiences of students reveal a missing critical technology component that links affordances and limitations to impacts on community members in both the near and long term. Models also tend to ignore environmental contexts of students even though we know from adult learner theory that it affects their commitment and participation within learning communities. Finally, looking at learning communities from a time-limited, narrow perspective instead of taking a wider systemic view may inhibit the sustainability of communities over time and limit the longitudinal value of educational practices. Findings from this study, however, can help educators adopt more "transcending blending" practices as they plan and foster learning communities to endure beyond blended classrooms.