Problem Statement: Blended Learning by Tracy Wilson
Blended learning has become popular in institutions of higher learning (Alammary, Sheard, & Carbone, 2014). Despite the plethora of information available for blended learning designs and implementation practices, learning outcomes have not been explored adequately. The research surrounding learning activities, technology, and overall student success provides a firm foundation. Without further study, it will be difficult to determine how effective blended learning is and how it contributes to learning outcomes. In fact, the only way to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of blended learning is through examining approaches, deciding upon learning objectives, exploring student satisfaction, investigating retention, and analyzing student achievement (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004).
According to an article written by Tseng and Walsh (2016), blended learning addresses diverse learning styles, creating a very positive situation for students. Because blended learning is designed for individual learning needs, the flexibility allows learners to take charge of their own education (Tseng & Walsh, 2016). However, research is lacking regarding student motivation and its influence on blended learning instruction.
Delivery methods are extremely important to the blended learning model, but more exploration is needed regarding design specifications and student learning incentives (Tseng & Walsh, 2016). In other words, blended learning might work, but delivery methods must be planned according to the desired learning outcomes. Therefore, it is imperative that educators consider meaningful course components (Tseng & Walsh, 2016). Finding a user-friendly design might have a direct impact on student motivation and achievement, but without research, this cannot be known.
Understanding the student’s current level of knowledge is essential for blended learning delivery, proposed outcomes, and general design (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011). Information exists to spotlight the positive aspects of blended learning, especially plasticity, cost effectiveness, and the emphasis on learning as opposed to teaching (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011). More information is needed, nonetheless, as to whether blended learning helps the student acquire new skills, which can contribute to their achievement (Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2011).
On one hand, some students may already feel empowered when entering a course. On the other hand, if a student feels burdened by the course, perhaps blended learning could contribute to student engagement, thereby allowing for positive outcomes in student learning and success. For example, if the course is a required introductory course, the educator may be met with opposition because it is a general education requirement. The student may feel that the course is a waste of time. However, blended learning may serve as the catalyst for bringing those students to the table and encouraging them to contribute to their learning experience. To make a determination about the aforementioned, more research is required.
Blended learning has many positive aspects, but there are also negative aspects as well. Students find collaborative activities to be especially useful, but they have problems with the workloads and self-directed learning (Vaughan, 2014). In addition, most blended learning courses have a technological component that provide opportunities for the collaborative activities the students enjoy (Vaughan, 2014). The technology is meant to encourage positive learning outcomes and student perceptions of blended learning. However, the effectiveness of digital technology has mixed reviews. Therefore, studying digital technologies and the type of technologies used will help determine which methods provide the best platform for learning outcomes and student success.
In conclusion, blended learning appears promising. Still, designs and implementation is not enough. Understanding student motivations and perceptions are essential for crafting blended learning designs that empower students to collaborate and to take charge of their own learning. Also, finding the right technological applications to supplement face-to-face learning must be explored. While the research in the above mentioned areas may seem daunting, it will be necessary for fine-tuning existing models. More exploration will also help educators prepare graduates to enter the workforce.
Alammary, A., Sheard, J., & Carbone, A. (2014). Blended learning in higher education: Three
different design approaches. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(4),
440-454. doi: 10.14742/ajet.693
Garrison, D., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential
in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 7, 95-105. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2004.02.001
Lopez-Perez, M. V., Perez-Lopez, M., & Rodriguez-Ariza, L. (2011). Blended learning in
higher education: Students’ perceptions and their relation to outcomes. Computers & Education, 56, 818-826. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.023
Tseng, H., & Walsh, E. (2016). Blended versus traditional course delivery: Comparing
students’ motivation, learning outcomes, and preferences. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(1), 43-52. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/24595866/
Vaughan, N. (2014). Student engagement and blended learning: Making the assessment
connection. Education Sciences, 4, 247-264. doi: 10.3390/educsci4040247