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Getting the right blend: Applying a learning and teaching model to collaborative research


Brown, N and Koroivulaono, T and Tuisawau, S, Getting the right blend: Applying a learning and teaching model to collaborative research , 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Program and Book of Abstracts, 27-30 October 2015, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 128-129. (2015) [Conference Extract]


Technology is ubiquitous in modern higher education, and is certainly not confined to those students who study on-line or at a distance. Indeed, many universities use a blended learning approach incorporating both face to face and on-line modes of delivery. However, whilst it is recognised that the pedagogy of on-line delivery is necessarily different to that of face to face, the best way to design and deliver blended courses has yet to be fully explored. At the University of Tasmania (UTAS), the use of technology in delivery of quality, contemporary teaching has been accepted as a given, and a commitment towards developing a blended model of delivery has been endorsed by the Academic Senate. Therefore, regardless of primary mode of delivery, all courses comprise some on-line elements. To reflect this, a more nuanced model for blended learning and teaching has been adopted encompassing three elements: high quality resources (available on-line); synchronous and asynchronous interaction; and high impact learning experiences. High impact learning experiences are those specifically designed to meet the learning outcomes within the dominant mode of delivery. Achieving the ‘right blend’ of these elements in course design is a focus of considerable academic work at UTAS and has led to a focus on researching the experiences of students and staff who are working and learning successfully through a blended approach.

The University of the South Pacific (USP), utilises a range of pedagogical approaches and modes of delivery across its 12 member countries, including an increasing use of technology and on-line learning. In 2014, UTAS and USP began a collaborative relationship drawn by a common interest in blended learning that was student-centred and recognised the contexts in which we work. Together, the two institutions deliver both face to face and distance courses across multiple campuses in 14 countries. The authors, with backgrounds in academic development, recognised the richness these diverse contexts would bring to a consideration of the ‘right blend’ for successful learning for our students. This became the foundation for this research project.

Reflective of both our dispersed locations and the focus of our research, the authors adopted an approach that reflected the elements of the UTAS blended learning model. Whilst it is not uncommon for research to be undertaken using on-line resources, communication and collaboration tools, we also purposefully designed high impact learning experiences for the researchers at the scoping phase. These were experiential and involved immersing the researchers in context, and spending time to make a personal connection to the informants of the research. Forging connections was seen to be particularly important as appreciative inquiry was the chosen research approach. This paper will discuss and analyse the methodology used, and relate this to our developing understanding of quality blended learning as described by the elements of the model. The presentation will also invite dialogue from our colleagues on the potential of high impact immersive experiences to facilitate deeper understanding of effective pedagogies through cross-cultural collaborations.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational technology and computing
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Teaching and instruction technologies
UTAS Author:Brown, N (Professor Natalie Brown)
ID Code:108120
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Curriculum and Academic Development
Deposited On:2016-04-07
Last Modified:2016-04-07

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