blended learning, economics education, education research, SoTL

More on SoTL

At the end of last month I wrote a short post on the scholarship of teaching-learning and my concerns about the idea that lecturers can easily publish a bit of research about their teaching. The past two days I have attended a workshop on blended learning and how one would do research about blended learning. I learned a few interesting things.

The workshop was presented by Anthony Picciano of CUNY (check out his blog here) and hosted by by a new research entity at the Vaal Triangle Campus called TELHE: Technology Enhanced Learning for Higher Education.

We covered some of the issues in doing education research, the grand debate on the medium vs the message, research paradigms, methodologies and methods. Tony also outlined some topics for research in education technology.

If you are interested mainly in the education technology part, he also has a nice SlideShare presentation called Blending with purpose.

For me the best part was the prescribed reading. He provided us with examples of different questions and different methods used in this line of research:

  • Bowen et al. looks at interactive learning online at public universities. It is about the impact of interactive online learning on student outcomes. These are compared to more traditional face-to-face instruction using RCTs and speaks to an economist’s post-positivism heart.
  • Han & Hill examines online discussions, and uses discourse analysis. The idea of collaborative, co-creation of knowledge is something that economists would think about in terms of networks, or learning-by-doing, but putting it in the education context and using discourse analysis is something else.
  • There were also two chapters from a book by Picciano et al. that I cannot link to. The one looked at student perspectives of engagement in a blended course and used a survey + a blog for some participatory action research. The other was about lecturers’ perspectives of workload when they tackled online learning and used interviews and focus groups.

I still don’t think that it will be easy for a regular economist to do research in this field. Just because you like to flip the class room, maybe blend face-to-face with online video’s, quizzes or run a class blog, does not mean that you can easily publish papers about it. There will be lots of theories and new methods to learn. But it can definitely be interesting.


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