Special Issue "Blended Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: An International Perspective"

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Higher Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021) | Viewed by 7135

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Maria Beatrice Ligorio
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Education, Psychology, Communication, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, 70121 Bari, Italy
Interests: education; technology; virtual communities; blended learning
Dr. Francesca Amenduni
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. Via Besso 84/86, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Interests: boundary crossing; professional learning; identity; digital technologies in education and VET

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The journal Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102) is currently running a Special Issue entitled “Blended Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: An International Perspective”.

We are all keenly aware of the effects that the current pandemic has had on the various aspects of our daily lives. When it comes to education, the main effect was having to rapidly switch from face-to-face to remote or at a distance teaching. This is of course a completely new type of educational setting, but it has already attracted a great amount of research. Another aspect which is similarly relevant, however, is identifying what will happen and where we will stand once the pandemic subsides or is over. Blended learning seems to be a favorable solution and is a field which has already attracted some attention, but what we now need to do is re-focus on this, capitalize on the lessons learnt from the current situation, and combine them with what we already know from past research. 

Blended learning, in its basest definition, encompasses the possible combination of computer-mediated and face-to-face teaching. It is not a simple juxtaposition of physical presence and technological mediation, but rather a well-studied alternation of the two, aimed at making the most of the various components and designing effective work contexts for both students and teachers.

Although this definition of blended learning is generally accepted, a huge variety of practices have been developed under this terminology. In the light of the new technological awareness that educational settings have reached now, there is a need to provide more detailed instructions and suggestions on how to design, implement, monitor, and assess blended learning; for instance, what type of communication modes—i.e., asynchronous or synchronous—should be involved and how they can be interconnected; what learning models should be evoked and how they can be intertwined; and what cognitive and social processes are involved. 

We need to better understand the role multimedia products together with the various platforms can play; how to involve, at the same time, participants who are physically present and those who are observing a lesson or lecture digitally; how moments of face-to-face work should be interspersed with work at a distance, e.g., what comes first and what after and how they come into synergy with one another.

This Special Issue is aimed at collecting recent experiences, reflections, and empirical evidence regarding ways to effectively blend computer-mediated and face-to-face teaching, by dealing with current open challenges highlighted in literature, such as (but not limited to):

  1. How to incorporate flexibility in blended learning;
  2. How to stimulate interaction;
  3. How to facilitate students’ learning processes;
  4. How to foster an affective learning climate;
  5. The role of students’ self-regulation in blended learning;
  6. Teachers’ digital skills and their capabilities of using technology for teaching;
  7. Challenges in the provision of suitable instructional technology and effective training support to teachers by educational institutions.

Prof. Dr. Maria Beatrice Ligorio
Dr. Francesca Amenduni
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Education Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • blended learning
  • higher education
  • educational technologies
  • computer-mediated teaching

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Blended Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: An International Perspective
Educ. Sci. 2022, 12(2), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020129 - 16 Feb 2022
Viewed by 790
Abstract
Blended learning is not a new topic for educational research in Higher Education (HE) [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Becoming an Expert Teacher: Assessing Expertise Growth in Peer Feedback Video Recordings by Lexical Analysis
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(11), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11110665 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 850
Abstract
Teacher education enables students to grow from ‘novice’ into ‘starting expert’ teachers. In this study, students’ textual peer feedback on video recordings of their teaching practice was analysed to determine the growth of their expertise in relation to blended curriculum design. The degree [...] Read more.
Teacher education enables students to grow from ‘novice’ into ‘starting expert’ teachers. In this study, students’ textual peer feedback on video recordings of their teaching practice was analysed to determine the growth of their expertise in relation to blended curriculum design. The degree to which curriculum and literature influenced their feedback was assessed by semantic network analysis of prominent words from the literature that was studied, as well as the lexical richness and semantic cohesion of students’ peer feedback and reflections. The lexical richness and the semantic cohesion increased significantly by the end of the semester. This means that students incorporated new vocabulary and maintained semantic consistency while using the new words. Regarding the semantic network analysis, we found stronger connections between the topics being discussed by the students at the end of the semester. Active use of video and peer feedback enhances students’ active knowledge base, thus furthering effective teaching. Full article
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Article
The Designing and Re-Designing of a Blended University Course Based on the Trialogical Learning Approach
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(10), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11100591 - 28 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 576
Abstract
To have a positive impact on students’ development of crucial skills, blended university courses need careful planning to fruitfully integrate learning settings as well as methodologies. The authors adopted Design-Based Research to design a blended university course based on the Trialogical Learning Approach, [...] Read more.
To have a positive impact on students’ development of crucial skills, blended university courses need careful planning to fruitfully integrate learning settings as well as methodologies. The authors adopted Design-Based Research to design a blended university course based on the Trialogical Learning Approach, and then to redesign it according to the learning outputs and the overall learner’s experience. The first iteration of the course (a.y. 2015) was followed by an observational study that aimed to identify student perceptions of (1) the impact of the course on the acquisition of the targeted knowledge–work skills and (2) strengths and areas for improvement to be considered when re-designing the subsequent edition. A total of 109 students participated in the two editions of the course under scrutiny in this research. The data corpus included students’ self-report questionnaires investigating the development of specific knowledge–work skills and focus group interviews that explored students’ perceptions. The data showed this blended course had a generally positive impact on students’ perception of acquisition of skills and knowledge, which increased between one edition and the next. This positive impact seemed to correspond with course refinements made by the teacher and with the activities that received greater attention in the second edition of the course. Full article
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Article
Students’ Self-Organization of the Learning Environment during a Blended Knowledge Creation Course
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(10), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11100580 - 24 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 603
Abstract
Learner-centered blended learning approaches, such as Knowledge Creation, emphasize the self-organizing characteristic of thought and action, and value the students’ autonomy and self-regulation during the engagement in collaborative learning tasks. In blended contexts, the students need to organize their learning paths within a [...] Read more.
Learner-centered blended learning approaches, such as Knowledge Creation, emphasize the self-organizing characteristic of thought and action, and value the students’ autonomy and self-regulation during the engagement in collaborative learning tasks. In blended contexts, the students need to organize their learning paths within a complex environment, including multiple online and offline learning spaces. This process of self-organization during courses based on the Knowledge Creation approach is currently an overlooked topic of research. The present case study is aimed at addressing this research gap by providing an in-depth understanding of the collaborative self-organization of a group of five undergraduate students participating in an interdisciplinary media design course. The course was designed according to the Knowledge Creation approach and was carried out before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The dialogical theory of the chronotope and the theory of cultural models constitute the main theoretical tools for the research. We used qualitative methods inspired by ethnography, including participant observation, in addition to the collection and analysis of audio-visual records, stimulated recall interviews, and learning diaries completed by the students. The findings show that the group self-organization changed across different phases of the collaborative task and involved the development of specific practices of self-organization. Cultural models associated with the task contributed to determine the students’ choices related to self-organization. Full article
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Article
Knowledge Building in Online Mode: Insights and Reflections
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11080425 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
It seems certain that blended learning will be on the rise in higher education, with in-person meetings increasingly precious time, and online synchronous and asynchronous sessions used to complement them. This paper examines Knowledge Building in two graduate courses conducted during the COVID-19 [...] Read more.
It seems certain that blended learning will be on the rise in higher education, with in-person meetings increasingly precious time, and online synchronous and asynchronous sessions used to complement them. This paper examines Knowledge Building in two graduate courses conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no in-person sessions; rather, synchronous Zoom sessions were combined with asynchronous work in a knowledge building environment–Knowledge Forum. Knowledge Forum is designed to make transparent and accessible means by which deep understanding and sustained creative work proceed. Accordingly, for example, rise-above notes and view rearrangement support synthesis and explanatory coherence, epistemic markers support knowledge-advancing discourse, and analytics support self-and group-monitoring of progress as work proceeds. In this report, we focus on these aspects of Knowledge Building, using a subset of analytics to enhance understanding of key concepts and design of principles-based practices to advance education for knowledge creation. Overall, we aimed to have students take collective responsibility for advancing community knowledge, rather than focus exclusively on individual achievement. As we reflect on our experiences and challenges, we attempt to answer the following questions: Do courses that introduce Knowledge Building in higher education need an in-person or synchronous component? In what ways can we leverage in-class time and Knowledge Forum work to engage students in more advanced knowledge creation? We conclude that synchronous and asynchronous Knowledge Building can be combined in powerful new ways to provide students with more design time and deeper engagement with content and peers. Full article
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Article
Blending Academic and Professional Learning in a University Course for Future E-learning Specialists: The Perspective of Company Tutors
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 415; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11080415 - 09 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 976
Abstract
Blended learning usually refers to the combination of online/offline instructional methods. In this paper, we describe a university course in “E-learning Psychology” designed to blend not only modes of teaching, tools, and media, but also learning contexts; specifically, academic and professional contexts. To [...] Read more.
Blended learning usually refers to the combination of online/offline instructional methods. In this paper, we describe a university course in “E-learning Psychology” designed to blend not only modes of teaching, tools, and media, but also learning contexts; specifically, academic and professional contexts. To achieve an effective blend of learning contexts, students were monitored by academic and company tutors through an instant messaging app (WhatsApp). The unique contribution of the company tutor to the blending of academic and professional contexts is explored. By qualitatively analyzing (i) process data (four WhatsApp log chats) and (ii) self-report data (interviews with six company tutors), we found that the company tutor contributed to both the traditional blended dimension (mixing online and offline) and to the blend of the academic and professional contexts. When company tutors participated in the chat, students moved from an organizational dynamic, featuring chats monitored by only the academic tutor, toward a more collaborative and reflective dynamic. The company tutors considered the opportunity to blend academic and professional contexts as the best aspect of the course for both themselves as educators/company representatives, and for the students. This paper offers insights into the ongoing discussion about what blended is—or should be—and the role of company tutors in blending educational contexts. Full article
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Communication
Redesigning Mathematical Curriculum for Blended Learning
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11040165 - 02 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1075
Abstract
The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown public schooling into crisis, trying to juggle shifting instructional modes: classrooms, online, home-schooling, student pods, hybrid and blends of these. This poses an urgent need to redesign curriculum using available technology to implement approaches that incorporate the findings [...] Read more.
The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown public schooling into crisis, trying to juggle shifting instructional modes: classrooms, online, home-schooling, student pods, hybrid and blends of these. This poses an urgent need to redesign curriculum using available technology to implement approaches that incorporate the findings of the learning sciences, including the emphasis on collaborative learning, computer mediation, student discourse and embodied feedback. This paper proposes a model of such learning, illustrated using existing dynamic-geometry technology to translate Euclidean geometry study into collaborative learning by student pods. The technology allows teachers and students to interact with the same material in multiple modes, so that blended approaches can be flexibly adapted to students with diverse preferred learning approaches or needs and structured into parallel or successive phases of blended learning. The technology can be used by online students, co-located small groups and school classrooms, with teachers and students having shared access to materials and to student work across interaction modes. Full article
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