Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

How Are Universities Involved in Blended Instruction?

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

How Are Universities Involved in Blended Instruction?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Blended instruction is an instructional approach that combines the benefits of online and classroom instruction. It initially originated from efforts to improve distance learning environments. In particular, it was aimed at improving online learning environments where learners can be easily disoriented due to a lack of communication or direct guidance (Marsh II et al., 2004; Rossett, et al., 2003). Regarding the learning environment, Savery and Duffy (1995) argued that there are two factors that affect learners' attitudes toward learning. One is the familiarity with the instructional medium and the other is the ability to make something meaningful out of the material presented. According to Savery and Duffy (1995), when comparable content is presented to learners, both on-screen and in printed text, the information presented on screen is mentally more demanding than the printed text. Learners find it difficult to make connections between information presented and its value due to the unfamiliarity of the presentation mode.

Marsh 11 et al., (2004) suggested that basic strategies for improving student learning are to put greater responsibility on students and to improve the presentation method by utilizing tools such as technology. Consequently, in online instruction, there have been many attempts to improve the presentation mode by employing advanced technology tools or adding classroom meetings to online instruction. Students in higher education tend to be less satisfied with totally online courses when compared to traditional classes (Sikora & Carroll, 2002). Therefore, based on many studies (Colis and Moonen, 2001; Deilialiouglu & Yildirim, 2007; Donghohue, 2006; Murphy, 2002, 2003; Schmidt & Werner, 2007; Valiathan, 2002; Young & Ku, 2008), researchers have concluded that a mixture of face to face and online instructional formats is the best solution for instructional problems and needs, accelerating the students' learning process.

However, there are still issues related to delivering blended courses with online components. These become challenges for faculty, institutions, and instruction. In particular, issues such as instructional support, faculty motivation and enthusiasm, and technology problems have been raised as problems in developing online instruction in many institutions since online instructional strategies have been available. Barr & Tag (1995). Many authors (Barr & Tag, 1995; Johnson, 2002) have claimed that university policies should be revised for faculty who are motivated to pursue newer instructional formats; promotion policies such as tenure should be revised based on faculty workloads and levels of engagement in extra instructional activities.

Another critical issue in blended instruction is a lack of evaluation procedures (Rovai, 2003). The process of identifying the degree to which the learning objectives are achieved is the basis for assessment of students and for course evaluation. Since evaluation is a process of reflection and revision, it is important for instructors in planning further instruction. However, few researchers have found appropriate evaluation frameworks and procedures for blended instruction in academic settings. Therefore, this study focuses on exploring faculty involvement and institutional support in delivering blended instruction and challenges and issues related to the topic.

There are many definitions possible for blended instruction. Among the definitions, the definition used for this study blended instruction is a combination of classroom and online instructional methods regardless the proportion of the instructional formats. There have been many studies conducted related to faculty attitudes, motivations, and institutional support in delivering online instruction or blended instruction. However, studies on faculty involvement in developing online instructional materials are scare. In that aspect, this study is significant to explore how practically faculty are involved in blended instruction and how universities support their faculty in pursuing innovative instructional delivery method. …

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