July 15, 2010

Are academics hindering blended learning uptake?

I recently attended the Fifth International Blended Learning Conference, which was organised by the University of Hertfordshire, UK. 

Some speakers mentioned that a major challenge in implementing blended learning strategies in their institutions were academics who were reluctant to use blended learning for a number of reasons. Some thought that they were not technology savvy (maybe related to a reluctance to learn new technologies or fear of technology), or don’t want to share the resources which they have developed (in other words, they were worried about the intellectual property issues) or they saw BL as an extra burden.

Many lecturers still preferred the old face-to-face style of classroom interactions.

And many just fulfilled the minimum requirements - to tick boxes – eg., uploading their notes to their online portals with no form of avenue for interactions. 

This indicates several underlying issues:

- That the academics were not convinced of the value of the blended learning strategies or

- May indicate a lack of motivation or

- It may simply be an indication of a lack of awareness (how the exisiting systems could be used for blended learning).

Several speakers also emphasised the importance of support of the top managers towards any BL initiative.  “To walk the talk”.  One presenter talked about institutionalised problems – about a top down only culture. 

Problems also arose where the top management showed a lack of support – for example, low attendance in workshops which had an adverse knock down effect down the ranks.

Would love to hear what you think?

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Ana Canhoto

    It reminds me of the early days of WebCT (like Blackboard). Back in 2003, I wrote a white paper about the experiences of using WebCT in an accounting module at LSE, and the arguments were much the same: it is an extra demand on my already very busy schedule, and I do not see much benefit in terms of actually delivering the content – kind of ‘much ado about nothing’.

    However, a paper presented at Am2010 on the use of e-Polling brought another dimension: some participants / students felt that it actually took time away from the lectures, that allowing interactivity meant that the lecturer struggled to cover all the material in the depth needed. I suppose that it reveals the tension between delivering content and, actually, facilitating learning. And it also links to performance measures: not many lecturers are judged by how interactive their sessions are, but might be penalised for not covering the syllabus.

    The knock down effect on attendance is a very poignant point that I had not thought about.

    15 Jul 2010, 16:53

  2. Hi Ana, Thanks for your comments. I guess the management has to take these issues into consideration before implementing any blended learning strategies. I may be wrong but talking to senior academics have given me the impression that teaching or even students’ opinions don’t count for much. What matters in the end is whether you are able to publish in top ranking journals and/ or bring in funding.

    15 Jul 2010, 23:36

  3. Jane

    HI Dillup,

    Not only does the institution have a huge role to play in terms of funding but showing the teachers what can be gained is also fundemental, in opposition to the time they need to invest. Focus needs to be given to what can be gained in the learning process. Isn’t that the ultimate aim of all or almost all teachers?
    Good post btw. ;-)

    16 Jul 2010, 13:36

  4. Thanks Jane. Hope you can make it for the meeting next week. Maybe we can discuss this issue in detail. Cheers

    16 Jul 2010, 17:00

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Dilip Mutum

This blog records some of the thoughts and experiences of Dilip Mutum at the University of Warwick. He has been blogging since 2003 and this is but one of his many blogs.

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