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Teachers Conceptions and Approaches to Blended Learning:

A Literature Review.
Vicki Caravias
Swinburne University of Technology
27-35 John St, Hawthorn Victoria 3122 Australia
vcaravias@swin.edu.au

ABSTRACT Higher education literature on e-learning


Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide the technology is replete with research that tinkers
opportunity to deliver blended learning approaches with, and then tests the effects if, instrumental
that combine a mix of Information and practices. The ultimate aim is to determine
Communications Technology (ICT) with various once and for all, what works and what does not
learning resources and delivery methods. Blended passing by the questions of why (p.61).
learning is seen as a link between teachers, students
and classrooms located in different places to enhance
learning. The advantages of blended learning include Most universities have incorporated learning
a lack of dependence on the time constraints, time for management systems, such as Blackboard and
reflections, meeting students different needs and Moodle, into their teaching practices [4, 5] to
learning styles, improved engagement and added support teachers in delivering material to
flexibility in teaching and learning. This paper students. A learning management system is a
presents a critical review and synthesis of research software application used to design, deliver and
literature exploring teachers conceptions of blended build online learning environments for a course.
learning and their approaches to both design and Coates et al. [6] outline several key features of
teaching using Piccianos Blending with Purpose LMSs:
Multimodal framework. In addition, this paper builds 1. Asynchronous and synchronous
upon previous research on blended learning and
communication between teacher-student and
conceptual framework by Picciano [1]. Research
results suggest that teachers use multiple approaches student-student (discussion boards, emails, live
including face-to-face methods and online chats);
technologies that address the learning needs of a 2. Content development and delivery (lecture
variety of students from different generations, notes, readings, practical activities);
personality types and learning styles. 3. Formative and summative assessment
(submission of assignments, quizzes,
collaborative work feedback, grades);
KEYWORDS 4. Class and user management (enrolling
blended learning; blended learning environments; students, displaying timetable) (p. 20-21).
blended teaching; eLearning; hybrid learning;
teachers perceptions; learning management systems Coates, James and Baldwin [6] found that LMS
studies focused on the economic and technical
issues of LMS usage (p. 26). They are also
1. INTRODUCTION
critical of the "textual nature" of LMSs (p. 27).
Over the past two decades the introduction of the Similarly, Prendergast [7] argues:
Internet and the use of Information and Too often considerations about information
Communication Technology (ICT) that enhance technology have become the dominant factors
knowledge and performance have been integrated in many strategies adopted by academic
into many university courses [2]. Within higher institutions. This has resulted in a rich
education, Kanuka and Kelland [3] reflect that: information technological environment that
fails to capture, motivate or retain learners

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(p.2). Brabazon [8] supports this view, by government for universities to increase
stating that: participation and widen access to higher
Teachers and teaching are being challenged education [15].
and undermined through the Internet. Learning
is not technologically dependent. It is reliant It has been widely argued in the literature that
on commitment, interest and passion (p.17). there are four main advantages while
incorporating the blended learning approach into
There are several reasons behind the drive to teaching practice: greater flexibility of time; lack
incorporate ICT into the educational process. of dependence on the time constraints of the
First, pressure to utilise ICT at a university level teacher; time for reflection; and meeting different
comes from changes in the student demography. needs and learning styles. The younger
According to Concannon, Flynn and Campbell generations according to Prenskys [16] digital
[9] the surge in full time part time students is a natives use online technologies for their social
phenomenon of recent years, where school and informational activities whilst older
leavers take part-time jobs whilst attending generations use these technologies less so.
university (p.502). For students who work full Furthermore, students engage in ways they prefer
time, the flexible design accommodates their according to their preferences, interests or
busy schedules. Without this flexibility, the abilities.
students may not be able to pursue their degrees.
Blended learning environments suit students who In sum, the current environment of higher
prefer face-to-face interaction in addition to education requires a careful consideration of the
students who prefer online learning. role of blended learning in addressing a number
issues related to teaching and learning such as
Second, blended learning has the potential to generational differences, personality types and
promote lifelong learning in higher education learning styles. The goal of this review is to
[10]. In their qualitative study, Dzakiria, Wahab present an investigation of the research currently
and Rahman investigated the learning available on teachers conceptions of blended
experiences of a students undertaking studies at learning and their approaches to both design and
University Utara Malaysia. They found that teaching in higher education using Piccianos
blended learnings flexibility nature can promote Blending with Purpose Multimodal framework.
lifelong learning anywhere, and anytime [10]. This proposes that teachers consider their
This is supported by research carried out by objectives and understand how to apply the
Masalela [11] whose qualitative study examined technologies and approaches that will work best
factors that influenced fifteen faculty members for their students. This paper contributes to the
decision to use blended learning and found that field of blended learning by exploring how
learners become self-directed, develop critical objectives from Piccianos framework (content,
thinking skills and become independent thinkers socially and emotionally, dialectic/questioning,
through blended courses. In addition, develop collaboration, synthesis/evaluation and reflection)
lifelong skills to use when they leave the affect teachers approach to both design and
university. teaching in face-to-face and online settings.

Third, changes in the market for delivery of Structurally, this paper consists of five thematic
education comes from innovation in new sections with relevant sub-sections. First, the
technologies. In the case of University of Central author defines blended learning in this context.
Florida [12], a three hour classroom instruction Second, the author describes the method for
was replaced with a two hour online instruction choosing the studies in this literature review. In
session. The university was able to operate the third section, Piccianos Blend with Purpose
multiple classes in one classroom using the Multimodal framework will be discussed. The
technological infrastructure of the university. In fourth section of the article explores the literature
addition, blended learning enables multi- available on teachers conceptions on blended
university offerings [13] and facilitates elective learning and their approaches to both design and
courses [14]. Lastly, there is pressure from teaching in higher education. Last, I present

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findings and provide suggestions for how this media designed to complement each other and
literature review could help researchers approach promote meaningful learning.
and study teachers conceptions on blended
learning environments in the future. 2. Combining instructional methods. According
to Welker and Berardino [29] blended learning is
the use of electronic learning tools that
supplement but do not replace face-to-face
2. LITERATURE REVIEW learning (p.33). Blended learning is an infusion of
web-based technologies into face-to-face learning
to create blended learning. Alternatively the
There are a few literature reviews on blended combination of instructional methods is known as
learning [17-20]. Apart from published texts [21- hybrid learning [30-32].
24] there are a small number of publications
focusing on teachers conceptions using blended 3. Combining online learning and face-to-face
learning environments [25]. instruction [33-37].

This section presents a critical review and Blended learning is also noted as blended e-
synthesis of the research literature in the field learning system that refers to an instructional
being investigated by this paper: how teachers system that combines multiple delivery methods,
experience and perceive the blended learning including most often face-to-face classroom with
approach in higher education. The literature asynchronous and/or synchronous online
review commences by defining blended learning. learning. It is characterised as maximising the
The advantages of blended learning approach are best advantages of face-to-face and online
then discussed. This is followed by a review of education. [38] This view is supported by
the research literature on teachers conceptions of Littlejohn and Pegler [23].
blended learning and their approaches to both
design and teaching in higher education using A significant amount of blended learning research
Piccianos Blending with Purpose Multimodal has already been done from the learning context
framework. of face-to-face activities and to which an online
or web-based activity had been added. Skill and
There are many definitions for blended learning. Young [27] stated that blended learning moves
well beyond the concept of bolting a Website
2.1 Defining blended learning onto a traditional classroom-based course (p.25).
Furthermore, Graham [39] defined blended
Blended learning has been defined in a number of learning as the combination of the instruction
ways and a generally accepted definition does not from two historically separate models of teaching
exist. It is used interchangeably with distance and learning: traditional face-to-face learning
learning, online learning, eLearning, blended systems and distributed learning systems (p.5)
teaching, e-teaching, blended e-learning, hybrid with an emphasis on the role of computer-based
learning and flexible learning. The literature technologies. However, in a criticism of blended
defines blended learning in many different ways learning, Oliver and Trigwell [40] argued that
according to instructional methods. The three blended learning is really concerned with the
most common definitions documented by process of blending media, teaching processes
Graham, Allen and Ure [26], are: and presentation, rather than students learning.
They suggested that blended learning could be
1. Combining instructional modalities (or redeemed by a closer analysis of the critical
delivery media). From a training perspective, aspects of the subject matter that are in variation
Skill and Young [27] view blended learning as a in the act of using blended learning (p.24).
combination of in-class teaching and learning
modalities with robust electronically mediated In a major review of blended e-learning in the
experiences (p.25). Singh [28] sees blended UK, Sharpe [41] concluded that while the term
learning as a combination of multiple delivery blended learning was unclear, it remained a

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practical term, because it could mean different an important part of learning however students
things to different people. The term blended learning is largely achieved through engagement
learning is used in this paper to describe learning and interaction with other students. Chen and
activities that involve a combination of face-to- Looi [53] also indicated that online discussion
face interactions and technologically mediated contains more opportunities for the practice of in
interactions between students, teachers and depth clarification and inference skills.
learning resources [19].
To increase the likelihood of positive student
As described above, there are many variations in learning outcomes using the blended learning
defining blended learning and different approach teachers must adopt new technologies
institutions implement blended learning [54]. Simply placing existing material online does
approaches in different way [42]. not serve the students. Gerbic [25] refers to this
as juxtaposition of two pedagogical settings
(p.222). Instead, the focus should be on
2.2 Advantages of the Blended Learning recognising the potential of the blended learning
Approach approach to enhance students learning outcomes.
Garrison and Vaughan [55] state that blended
In blended learning teachers who use a learning courses require these elements:
management system can share course materials, 1. In-class activities that link the online
syllabus, opinions and online assessments as well assignments so as to reinforce the intent
as use e-mail, discussion boards, calendars, blogs, of activities outside the classroom;
journals, along with traditional face-to-face 2. Shift from teacher-centred to learner-
activities such as lectures and tutorials. Several centred activities in class as well as
researchers support blended learning [9, 41]. online;
3. Focus on student responsibility for
It has been widely argued in the literature that navigating online resources and
there are four main advantages while conducting online research and
incorporating the blended learning approach into 4. Evaluation instruments that provide
teaching practice: frequent feedback.
1. Greater flexibility of time. Freedom for
students to decide when each online Teachers publish their learning resources on the
lesson will be learned [43, 44]; learning management website and students
2. Lack of dependence on the time participate through computer networks. A
constraints of the teacher [45, 46]; positive attitude towards computers and the
3. Time for reflection. Freedom for students Internet, for example, where teaching staff are not
to express thoughts, and ask questions, afraid of the complexity of using computers, will
without limitations [47, 48]; result in effective learners in a blended learning
4. Meeting different needs and learning environment [54]. Research results suggested that
styles [49]. applying online technology in the classroom
enhances students achievement [11]. Those tasks
Research literature elsewhere indicates that such as capturing students accomplishment
blended learning can bring teachers and students through an electronic grade book, reviewing
closer together [50, 51]. Aspden and Helm [51] course materials and communicating with
explored student engagement and interaction with teachers can be carried out more efficiently. In
students in the context of a blended learning their quantitative study Amrein-Beardsley,
situation and argue that the blended learning Foulger and Toth [56] investigated nine
approach can help bring teachers and students instructors perceptions of their students and their
together by making appropriate use of a mix of own experiences with hybrid courses. From the
technologies students can feel increased questionnaires they concluded that students found
connectivity with both their fellow students and the online grade book and announcements most
university staff. Furthermore, Garrison and useful. Students appreciated instructors who
Anderson [52] argue that access to information is graded assignments and posted them in the grade

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book in a timely and efficient manner. Students slides into the learning management system is not
found the course document downloads, Internet enough to create good quality online learning
sites and links sent to them from the instructors materials. This view is supported by Heinze and
equally useful in terms of technology tools that Proctors action research study that examined
enhanced their learning. staff opinions regarding the delivery of a program
at the University of Salford using blended
Blended learning environments can provide learning. Heinze and Proctor [61] found that
access to online learning materials for different simply using a learning management system
styles of student learning and engage learners instead of web pages to deliver handouts and
interactively [9, 41]. Motteram [57] found that presentations and combining it with discussion
the blended learning approach enhanced the boards resulted in staff stating that they were not
learning experience as the course structure really doing any e-learning on the course.
enabled them to deal with topics in their own
time and to organise themselves better around the Piccianos Blending with Purpose Multimodal
tasks in their own time. In two studies, one in the model was derived from discussions above on
UK and one in Australia, the use of blended blending learning environments, generations,
learning environments together with access to personality types and learning styles.
online learning materials were found to be
determining factors behind increased student
engagement and motivation [9, 58]. Rodriguez 2.3 Blending with Purpose: The Multimodal
and Anicete [59] state that learning management Model
systems, such as Modular Object Oriented
Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE), The organization of this paper is based on
can support students to develop more Piccianos Blending with Purpose Multimodal
responsibility for their learning. This view is framework (see Figure 1 below). Picciano [1]
supported by Masalela [11]. In keeping with Blending with Purpose Multimodal framework
Motteram observations, [57] Rodriguez and recognises that because students represent
Anicete [59] found that the blended learning different generations, different personality types,
approach enhanced the learning experience as the and different learning styles, teachers should seek
course structure enabled students to deal with to use multiple approaches including face-to-face
topics in their own time and to organise methods and online technologies to meet the
themselves better around the tasks in their own needs of a wide spectrum of students.
time. However, other authors found that blended
learning environments had both positive and
negative outcomes, and there was the possibility
of negative effects such as innovation fatigue
amongst staff and students [40].

In addition, blended learning courses can support


students and prove to be very useful in improving
teachers abilities to respond a wide range of
students needs. Ho [49] states that blended
learning courses result in lower dropout rates
compared to fully online courses. This view is
supported by Dzuiban and Moskal [12] who
reported that students withdrawal rates were
reduced in blended learning courses.
Figure 1: Blending with Purpose: The Multimodal Model.
Despite these advantages for blended learning, Source: Picciano [1] (p.11)
simply putting technology in classrooms will
have little impact on students if teachers are not The most important feature of this model is that
supported in learning how to use the technology. teachers need to carefully consider their
Salmon [60] stated that uploading PowerPoint objectives and understand how to apply the

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technologies and approaches that will work best socially and emotionally, dialectic/questioning,
for their students. There are six pedagogical collaboration, synthesis/evaluation and reflection)
objectives used in the model above: content, that affect teachers approach to both design and
social/emotional contexts, dialectic/questioning teaching in face-to-face and online settings. Much
activities, synthesis/evaluation tools, of the research in one objective impacts the other
collaboration/student-generated content, and objectives.
reflection opportunities. Learning management
systems and other online tools provide a number First, the Blending with Purpose Multimodal
of mechanisms for assisting teachers meet these framework suggests that delivering content is one
objectives. of the main objectives of teaching and there are
many ways in which content can be delivered and
presented to students. Blended learning allows
2.4 Teachers Conceptions of Blended teachers an ongoing opportunity to experiment
Learning with new approaches to learning and new types of
educational technology such as the Web and
Considerable research has been carried out into learning management systems. Learning
teachers conceptions of face-to-face teaching management systems enable the delivery of a
[62-64] and what impact this may have on the variety of media including text, video and audio.
way university teachers carry out their teaching. In providing and presenting content, the Blending
Entwistle [65] suggests that there are with Purpose Multimodal framework suggests
relationships between teachers conceptions of that multiple technologies and media be utilised.
teaching (including their beliefs about teaching) Research results suggest the teachers
and their approaches to teaching. An conceptions of blended learning as a way to
understanding of teachers conceptions is provide information to students by way of lecture
therefore likely to help in the process of notes, online learning resources and links to
understanding and improving teaching [66]. external websites [70, 71, 80].
Kember and Kwan [67] identified two main
approaches to teaching: content centred, in McConnell and Zhao [70] research examined the
which teachers focus on the content to be taught; ways in which Chinese higher education teachers
and learner centred where teachers focus on the think about e-learning and e-teaching, and the
learning process. ways in which they implement e-learning in a
qualitative study. From twenty-four interviews
As this literature review shows, there are thirteen they found a set of categories of conceptions:
studies focussed on teachers conceptions, beliefs 1. The centrality of the learner (p.516);
and experiences of blended learning and their 2. Online co-operative learning (p.517);
approaches to both design and teaching in face- 3. Network learning (p.518);
to-face and online settings. Teachers conceptions 4. Student learning (p.518);
of blended learning have been investigated with 5. Infrastructure and access (p.519).
five studies reported research into teaching with
e-learning [5, 68-71]. From these five studies, one Their research findings suggest that face-to-face
had been conducted in a distance education instruction using lectures were the preferred
setting [68] and one reported conceptions of method of teaching with each teacher
blended teaching [5]. A couple of studies have acknowledging the sheer power of the lecture in
investigated teachers beliefs, which are the Chinese higher education system (p.519).
considered different from conceptions These results are supported by another study that
according to the literature [72, 73]. The six examined faculty involvement in blended
remaining studies focussed on teachers instruction and their attitudes towards the
conceptions and experiences of working with instructional method. Ohs [80] quantitative
learning management systems [74-79]. study involved one hundred and fifty-one
universities classified by the Carnegie
Piccianos [1] Blended with Purpose Multimodal Foundation. One hundred and thirty-three faculty
framework comprises of six objectives (content, members completed a survey and reported that

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the most commonly selected instructional with previous research outcomes from Kember
delivery format used by faculty was face-to-face and Khan [67] who suggested that teachers rely
instruction with supplementary online on content-centred approaches to transmit
instructional components (p.333). These results information to students. Like Roberts and
suggest that e-learning is conceived by teachers McConnell and Zhao, Gonzalez also found
as not a good way to deliver course content to teachers conceptions focused on access to
students with teachers preferring face-to-face learning materials and information transfer.
methods. Gonzalezs [68] phenomenographic study
investigated what university teachers think
In addition, Roberts [71] phenomenographic eLearning is good for in their teaching. From
study investigated the use of e-learning for interviews with seven teachers from the Faculty
teaching and the extent and nature of Web use for of Health Sciences three conceptions using
teaching and learning in a Scottish university. eLearning were identified:
From a Web-based survey and interviews with 1. For individual access to learning materials
seventeen teachers three conceptions of teaching and information, and for individual
using the Web were discovered, as well as a set assessment (p.312);
of strategies to describe the approaches taken by 2. For learning-related communication
lecturers. Conceptions of teaching using the web (p.312);
that were discovered are: 3. For networked learning (p.312).
1. The web as a source of subject
information (p.145): in this conception the Gonzalez [68] found that university teachers
Web is used the medium used to distribute having a content-centred approach to teaching
information to students. Teachers upload can be defined as informative-individual
learning materials such as lecture notes learning focused; while those university teachers
and direct students to websites to retrieve having a transitional or learner-centred
information. approach can be defined as communicative-
2. The web is used for individual and networked learning focused [68].
independent self-paced learning (p.146):
students use the Web to complete subject Similar to the content-centred conceptions found
activities. in the above studies, outcomes from Lameras,
3. The web is used for group analysis, Paraskakis and Levy [82] showed that teachers
decision making and dialogue (p.147): the conceived eLearning as a way to transfer
Web is used for students to interact with information to students where learning resources
one another and create communities of were uploaded for students to use on their own.
inquiry [81]. This enables students to learn at their own pace.
Lameras, Paraskasis and Levy [82] qualitative
These conceptions are consistent with McConnell study investigated Greek university teachers
and Zhao [70] definition of networked learning conceptions of and approaches to teaching using
and Piccianos definition of content [1] where digital technology in blended settings. Their
teachers place material online and students are interviews with twenty-five Computer Science
expected to learn at their own pace. At the teachers identified four categories that describe
University of Central Florida, learning to use the use of virtual learning environments as a
technology to modify their teaching methods was means of supporting:
citied as one of the outcomes that faculty liked 1. Information transfer (p.145);
most about teaching on the Web [12]. The 2. Application and clarification of concepts
fundamental principles underlying networked (p.145);
learning are learner-centred where the learning is 3. Exchange and development of ideas, and
outcome-focused and requires engagement, group resource exploration and sharing (p.145);
collaboration and the creation of communities of 4. Collaborative knowledge-creation, and
inquiry [81]. development of process awareness and
skills (p.145).
Research results from this study are consistent

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The first and second category of conceptions Third, the Blending with Purpose Multimodal
support the content-centred approaches of the framework suggests that the social and emotional
virtual management system and are supported by needs of students should be considered by
research carried out by McConnell and Zhao as teachers when designing blended learning courses
well as Roberts [70, 71].The third and fourth [72, 74]. Stacey and Weisenberg [72] study
category of conceptions support the learner- investigated teachers beliefs about teaching face-
centred of the virtual management system and are to-face and online in two case studies of ten
supported by research carried out by Ellis, Steed Australian and twelve Canadian university
and Applebee as well as McConnell and Zhao [5, teachers. From an online open-ended
70]. questionnaire about teaching philosophies and
approaches together with the Teaching
Second, the Blended with Purpose Multimodal Perspective Inventory which measures teachers
framework suggests that email and electronic beliefs. They found that twenty-two teachers
communications enable collaboration between regarded themselves as more teacher-centred in
students. Research results indicate teachers face-to-face settings and more learner-centred in
conceptions of eLearning as a way to engage in online settings. The Australian teachers had a
communication-collaboration-knowledge preference for teaching face-to-face because they
building [83] and seen to engage students in believed that it enabled them to build better
discussion, developing understanding and relationships with their students. In contrast, the
building knowledge [5]. In addition, blended Canadian teachers had a stronger preference for
learning is conceived as a way of engaging teaching online because they believed the mode
students in learning activities that may lead to could support multiple perspectives.
higher-level learning experiences [33].
These conceptions are supported by research
In their qualitative study, Ellis, Steed and carried out by McShanes [74] case study that
Applebee [5] investigated the conceptions of investigated the personal experiences of five
blended learning and teaching by teachers in two Australian lecturers who teach using an online
campus-based Australian universities, and the learning management system (Web CT or Top
relationships between these conceptions to their Class) to organise the online components of their
approaches to integrating online and face-to-face subjects. Five themes emerged across the
environments. From their interviews with twenty- individual case studies:
two teachers they identified four conceptions of 1. Enhanced relationships with students
blended teaching: (p.8);
1. Blended teaching as helping students 2. Planning and teaching becomes very
develop and apply new concepts (p.324); conscious tasks (p.9);
2. Blended teaching as developing student 3. Expansion, extension, augmentation (time
understanding through aligning media to and space) (p.10);
intended learning outcomes (p.324); 4. Scrutiny and reflexivity (p.11);
3. Blended teaching as providing students 5. The centrality of learning (p.12).
with information (p.325);
4. Blended teaching as replacing part of the McShane [74] found that university teachers
responsibility of being a teacher (p.326). perceived their teaching approaches where no
different when they were teaching face-to-face to
The researchers found that teachers recognised a when they were teaching online. These findings
connection between students achieving their were inconsistent with studies identified in this
learning outcomes and the role of technology in literature that show that teachers approaches can
blended settings helping students develop higher differ considerably when changing modes of
order thinking. Garrison and Kanuka [33] argued teaching.
that blended environments can support and
transform universities by building a Community
of Inquiry [81] and develop higher order thinking. The fourth objective from the Blending with
Purpose Multimodal framework suggests that
dialectic/questioning is an important activity that

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allows faculty to explore what students know and arousal of students interest and participation,
to refine their knowledge. For dialectic and flexibility, time conservation, improvement of
questioning activities, a well- organised interaction, collaboration and communication
discussion board activity generally seeks to opportunities and the ability to track students
present a topic or issue and have students respond progress.
to questions, provide their own perspectives
while also evaluating and responding to the In another qualitative study, King and Arnold
opinions of others [73]. Research results indicate [75] explored five professors who teach in
that teachers are advised to take deliberate action blended learning environments and examined
once courses begin towards creating a community whether course preparation and design,
of inquiry [81] such as monitoring and communication and motivation are taken into
responding to online discussion board postings consideration when designing their courses. All
[84]. the professors used a learning management
system for the online component. From a survey
Steel [73] investigated the relationship between and interviews with five professors from the
teacher beliefs and their learning designs for college of education at a Mid-western research
learning management systems in large university, four factors were found to contribute
undergraduate classes in her qualitative study. to the success of blended learning courses:
Three award winning university teachers from an 1. Course preparation (p.51): The professors
Australian university were interviewed. The prepared their blended courses in various
research identified strong affective components ways and used technology, such as Skype,
(p.414) of the teachers belief systems that wikis and blogs in addition to the learning
demonstrate a commitment to engage with their management system.
students, build learning communities and use 2. Course design (p.52): The professors used
technologies to support social justice and equity. the content feature of the learning
Faculty who have taught blended learning courses management system to post course
have observed that students do a better job of documents and assignments which
writing, learning course material, mastering support the content-centred approach of
concepts, and applying what they have learned teaching [67].
compared to traditional face-to-face courses [85]. 3. Communication (p.53): The importance of
This viewpoint is captured in a comment from a communicating with students in a timely
faculty member at the University of Wisconsin manner is consistent with research
who teaches blended courses, My students have findings in blended learning Ho, Lu and
done better that I have ever seen; they are Thurmaier [49]. The professors used the
motivated, enthused and doing their best work discussion board in various ways. One
(p.3). professor required the students to
complete weekly journals that were
The fifth objective from the Blending with viewed by student and professor only
Purpose Multimodal framework suggests that enabling a confidential dialogue and the
students receive feedback from teachers regarding students time to reflect on what they had
their academic progress. Learning management learnt.
systems provide a number of mechanisms for 4. Motivation (p.53). These results are
assisting teachers to assess their students supported by research carried out by
learning and provide feedback. Major methods Aycock, Garnham and Kaleta [85].
include electronic tests, assignments and
portfolios [75-77]. In sum, learning management Research results indicate that professors
systems provides an on-going record that can be preparing for a blended learning course requires
referred to over and over again by both students more discipline and preparation time than a
and teachers. Gedik, Kiraz and Ozden [76] traditional face-to-face course [75].
qualitative study investigated instructor The literature records challenges to the use of
experiences relating to the design, development blended learning environments in other studies.
and implementation processes of a blended The commonly found issues were increased time
course. They found several themes emerged:

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commitment and workload [46, 75, 76, 78]. The technology-mediated learning activities. These
increased time commitment involved in designing findings are supported by previous studies of
a blended course is regarded as the number one Salmon [60] as well as Heinze and Proctor [61].
challenge by faculty [12]. This view is echoed in Moreover, while planning for blended learning,
Napier [78] research (discussed below) where teachers should include a variety of learning
several success factors for teaching and designing activities to meet the needs of different learners
blended learning courses were identified: [1].
1. Play to your strengths;
2. Utilize technology; Lastly, the Blending with Purpose Multimodal
3. Build a classroom without walls; framework suggests that the ability to share ones
4. Provide tutoring and on-line support; reflection with others can be most beneficial
5. Creatively manage out-of-class time. however this objective is the least researched
objective. Pedagogical activities that require
Napier [78] examined the perceptions of students to reflect on what they are learning and
instructors teaching blended learning courses at a to share their reflection with their teachers and
small public liberal arts college and found that fellow students are viewed very positively. Blogs
instructors invest more time becoming familiar and blogging, whether as group activities or for
with available technology, creating in-class individual journaling activities, are appropriate
activities and reflecting on course structure. tools for students reflecting on what is being
These results are also supported by research learned. Ocak [79] qualitative study examined
carried out by Edginton and Holbrook [46] who problems and challenges faculty members
found that teachers teaching blended learning encountered in blended learning environments
courses can expect to invest more time becoming and found class discussions that take place on
familiar with available technology and creating discussion boards or blogs and provide teachers
in-class activities. These research results with an electronic record that can be reviewed
contradict Garrison and Vaughans [55] over and over again to examine how students
argument. They argued that, blended learning have participated and progressed over time.
environments can ease the workload. Similarly,
all faculty members involved in a blended These predominantly qualitatively studies draw
learning program at the University of Wisconsin, attention to the importance of teachers
Milwaukee stated that they will continue to teach conceptions and beliefs of teaching in face-to-
blended learning courses as they believe that their face and online settings.
time was wisely invested in improving the
learning environment for both students and
faculty members [85].

Jokinen and Mikkonen [77] qualitative study 3. METHOD


described teachers experiences of planning and
implementing teaching and learning in a blended A comprehensive literature review was conducted
learning based nursing programme. Nine themes to locate papers on teachers perceptions on
emerged from the data including: collaborative blended learning using search engines and
planning; integration; student group; face-to-face educational databases such as Academic Search
teaching; online learning; learning activities; Elite, ProQuest, ERIC (Education Resources
teaching and learning methods; learning in and Information Centre), and Google Scholar. The
about work; and confirming competences [77]. keywords used were blended learning, blended
learning environments, blended teaching, online
These researchers found that teachers experienced teaching, eLearning, teacher perceptions, teacher
the blended learning approach positively despite conceptions (as well as combinations of these).
challenges from the viewpoint of planning and Literature related to teachers working across face-
design. According to the study careful planning is to-face and online environments were included in
required by teachers to ensure the combination of this review.
face-to-face learning and learning in practice with

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Selecting only those papers, which specifically approaches and technologies as a way to transfer
focussed on blended learning in higher education, information to students. Learning resources are
and reported the results of empirical research, uploaded for students to use on their own and
further refined this search. Conference papers and teachers provide information to students in the
dissertations were not included. References from form of lecture notes, online resources and
the articles included in the review were examined websites. This enables students to learn at their
in order to identify other relevant studies. own pace. Teachers can engage in
Following this literature search a database communications and learning activities with
including approximately eighty-seven titles was students including email, blogs and discussion
created using EndNote. boards. Electronic communications enable
collaboration between students. Teachers develop
There are four published texts [21-24]; there were pedagogical activities that require students to
few publications, which directly discussed reflect on what they are learning and to share
teachers perspectives on blended teaching. their reflection with their teachers and fellow
students are viewed very positively. Teachers use
4. DISCUSSION discussion to present a topic or issue and have
students respond to questions, provide their own
perspectives while also evaluating and
Blended learning research on teachers responding to the opinions of others.
conceptions, beliefs and experiences of teaching
in face-to-face and online settings reflects all six The research in blended learning so far has
objectives of the Blending with Purpose focused more on what teachers need to know in
Multimodal framework but student-generated order to integrate technology into their teaching
content and reflection were not used to their [86] rather than on personal support tools to
fullest capacity. Teachers focused mainly on enable students to use blended learning
content, social/emotional aspects of blended environments effectively and to learn efficiently.
learning courses for their students, and Most studies have been conducted as case studies.
synthesis/evaluation tools. The studies in this Yin [87] argued that a case study investigates a
literature review contained faculty-driven rather contemporary phenomenon within its real-life
than student-generated content, as was suggested context (p.13). Even though the case study has
by Picciano [1] as part of the design of the this advantage, this research area needs other
multimodal model. This literature review shows research methods. The Blending with Purpose
the importance of teachers conceptions, beliefs Multimodal framework used in this paper can be
and experiences and their approaches to both used as a conceptual framework to examine the
designing and teaching in face-to-face and online effectiveness of blended learning courses. The
settings including learning management systems. Blending with Purpose Multimodal framework
In addition, relationships between conceptions shows what objectives teachers should consider
and approaches found in previous research have when designing blended learning courses.
been confirmed. Research results indicate that
teachers use multiple approaches including face- As this literature review shows, teachers
to-face methods and online technologies that conceptions and approaches to both design and
address the learning needs of a variety of students teaching using blended learning environments is
from different generations, personality types and still a developing issue. More research is also
learning styles. needed to gain a more comprehensive
understanding of teachers perceptions and
Even though these studies have been conducted problems that these teachers face when
in different settings and by different researchers, integrating pedagogy and content knowledge into
many similarities in research results can be seen. blended learning environments, the strategies
Research results indicate that teachers merge they employ to address these problems, and how
several objectives of the Blending with Purpose they use the blended learning tools (e.g., learning
Multimodal framework together to create management systems) to overcome these
learning experiences. Teachers utilise multiple challenges. Discovering what type of pedagogical

ISBN: 978-0-9891305-4-7 2014 SDIWC 71


and technology changes are being made to
blended learning courses, being able to identify
design problems, and finding solutions to design
and development issues are extremely important
to blended learning. The Blending with Purpose
Multimodal framework [1] should also be
compared to other frameworks to discover to
what extent pedagogical frameworks are helping
teachers to integrate pedagogy and content
knowledge into blended learning environments.

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