Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Blending Face-to-Face Higher Education with Web-Based Lectures: Comparing Different Didactical Application Scenarios

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Blending Face-to-Face Higher Education with Web-Based Lectures: Comparing Different Didactical Application Scenarios

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the 21th century, a combination of increasing numbers and increasing diversity of the student body in higher education is a worldwide phenomenon (Preston et al., 2010). This is also the case for Flanders, where a report of the Flemish Ministry of Education found not only an increase in higher education intakes but also an increased diversity of students with regard to background, learning style and learning needs (Flemish Ministry of Education, 2012; Verliefde, Vermeyen, & Van Den Bossche, 2010). Academic staff often feels the need for support in teaching these larger and more diverse groups of students (Office for educational quality control at Ghent University, 2012). In this context, there is an interest in increasing flexibility in higher education, which in 2004 led to a Flemish government decree on the flexibility of the organization of higher education. As a consequence of this demand for flexibility, many universities have introduced web-based lectures, comprising learning tools which integrate sound and images and are designed to digitally record lectures for subsequent delivery over the web (Collis & Moonen, 2011; Gosper, Green, McNeil, Phillips, Preston, & Woo, 2008, von Konsky, Ivins, & Gribble, 2009).

Results of previous academic research demonstrates that web-based lectures are most beneficial regarding student' satisfaction and learning outcomes when implemented from a blended learning approach, compared with both traditional face-to-face lectures and fully online modes of education (Day, 2008; Day and Foley, 2006; Howlett et al., 2011; Lim & Morris, 2009; Owston, York, & Murtha, 2013; Taradi, Taradi, Radic, & Pokrajac, 2005). Blended learning is an instructional approach that relies on the mixture of face-to-face and web-based learning environments (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004; Graham; 2006). More specific, research by Chen & Liu (2008) found that dynamic media presentations increase learning efficiency and research of Lai, Tsai, & Yu (2011), in which synchronization of a teacher's lecturing actions for a PowerPoint presentation with his/her voice creates web-based multimedia material which students can use to access past lectures, revealed that students using this technology had more positive learning attitudes and higher achievements than students from the control group. Compared with fully online learning, students of blended courses are more satisfied with the instructional guidance during learning (Lim, Morris, & Kupritz, 2006). It positively impacts students' comprehension and understanding of the learning content (Woo et al., 2008) and students believe that blended courses enable them to gather knowledge from multiple sources (Bliuc, Ellis, Goodyear, & Piggott, 2011; Orton-Johnson, 2009). Furthermore, students can benefit from increased time and spatial flexibility, wider and easier access to learning sources and a higher level of autonomy in regulating learning (Ashton & Elliot, 2007; Chen & Liu, 2008; Howlett et al., 2011; Owston et al., 2013; Preston et al., 2010).

Despite these overall positive results, some researchers are more cautious and nuanced about this innovation. First, Chong, Tosukhowong and Sakauchi's (2002) and Chen and Liu (2008) pointed to the technical problems which can occur during web-based delivery of content. But more important, von Konsky et al. (2009) reported that the effectiveness of web-based lectures was not uniform for all students. Concerning this issue, research of Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez and Rodriguez-Ariza (2011) and Owston et al. (2013) found that compared with lower achieving students, high achievers were the most satisfied with the blended learning approach and it is questioned whether blended learning is as suitable for low achievers as they may not have the independent study skills that blended learning demands.

Moreover, it can be noticed that most literature discusses web-based lecture technology in general without specifying the intended purposes when introducing web-based lectures in education. …

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