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Blending online learning with traditional approaches: Changing practices

Condie, M.E. and Livingston, K. (2007) Blending online learning with traditional approaches: Changing practices. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38 (2). pp. 337-348. ISSN 0007-1013

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Abstract

Considerable claims have been made for the development of e-learning, either as stand-alone programmes or alongside more traditional approaches to teaching and learning, for students across school and tertiary education. National initiatives have improved the position of schools in terms of access to hardware and electronic networking, software and educational resources, and staff development. The potential of e-learning to improve learning and teaching, and in turn, attainment, may be contested by academics but the policy makers are generally positive. Many countries across Europe and North America have adopted information and communication technology (ICT) as a central plank in school improvement and effectiveness planning. At the centre, however, remain the teacher and the learner. The impact of ICT on the learning experience will depend upon the roles adopted by each, the model of the learner held by the teacher and the pedagogy adopted. This paper considers the ways in which teachers and students responded to the implementation of one particular online programme and considers the approaches adopted and the attitudes to its use. The SCHOLAR programme is designed to complement rather than replace traditional teaching and learning approaches within schools and is aimed at students in the post-compulsory years of secondary school working towards external certification. It has a number of features including course materials, revision exercises, self-assessment facilities and a discussion forum. The independent evaluation of SCHOLAR looked at the impact that its use made on learning and teaching in the post-16 classroom and the differing ways in which teachers and students used the various elements of the programme. While it did appear to have a positive impact on attainment, the evidence indicates that this might have been greater had the teachers modified their practice, blending learning through SCHOLAR with more traditional methods.