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Teachers all over the world design develop and implement innovative teaching methods in order to capture students interests. Sometimes these initiatives are also undertaken to address subject related issues. The author has encountered many problems in the teaching of ICT in the last 5 years. In this research, Blended Learning was implemented in primary school ICT lessons to measure student's perception towards this approach.
We have seen an increase in many countries on the use of ICT in schools. It seems schools are moving away from blackboards, a projector and a television to an increase on the use of the internet, interactive boards and e-learning. In England, for example, the government feels that it is critical that all schools are able to expand the use of ICT, so it is not only those who have access to these technologies the ones who benefit (DfEE 2001).
Furthermore, very little studies have been done at the Primary School level as to the perception of students towards the use of e-learning and also the use of blended learning to teach the subject of ICT.
This research is a way to demonstrate whether or not the use of Blended Learning in the teaching of ICT has any effect in the perception of Primary School students when learning the subject of ICT.
- Is there a statistical difference between Thai primary school student's perception towards the use of blended learning and the use of face to face instruction in ICT class?
- What is the student's perception towards learning ICT using both traditional face to face and blended learning methods?
Importance of the Study
This research aims to explore the Primary school students' perception towards learning an ICT course using Blended Learning vs Face to Face learning and examines the qualitative data gathered after the experiment. This type of research would be a pioneering research project at Satit Bilingual School of Rangsit University (SBS), Thailand for studying the efficiency and effectiveness of the Blended Learning system. This research compares Blended Learning with traditional face to face teaching in ICT class. The results of this study will be used to develop more effective Blended Learning systems.
There is a trend in education to use technology as a means to enhance or, sometimes, teach entire courses fully online or as integration in the classroom. Some problems in a traditional classroom setting can be, lack of teacher attention, boredom, outdated knowledge, and inappropriateness for a diverse population (Gardiner, 1997; Hara & Kling, 1999). Researchers support concepts such as active learning, student-centered principles, effective use of technology, and collaborative learning (American Psychological Association, 1997; Bonk and Kim, 1998). There are expectations that technology and e-learning will transform education. The demand for the use of technology in education and e-learning has affected developing countries in South East Asia, such as Thailand. Therefore, it is important for educators to explore students' attitudes towards and experience of new technology such as Blended Learning.
The author's problems stem from the teaching of ICT and the complexity of keeping student's attention and interest while teaching two skills at the same time. The challenge with teaching ICT lies in that there are cognitive as well as psychomotor skills that need to be learned at the same time. It proves almost impossible to do both and keep the learners attention on the task. The author's experience is that in order to do both the lesson has to be constantly interrupted because it is too difficult for the students to remember all things taught, and also there are different levels of skills in the same classroom and it proves almost impossible to go at a pace that satisfies all students. There will always be ones that can keep up, ones that are slow and ones that do not understand at all.
Blended Learning is a way to give students an opportunity to practice and learn the skills taught at the same time and at their own pace.
Definition of Terms
What is e-learning?
ELearning is learning at all levels, be it formal or informal, that uses a network, w\such as a intranet (LAN), WAN or the Internet, for the delivery of courses and learning. So, what is elearning? Very simply, elearning is utilizing technology to increase the effectiveness and accessibility of learning. This may include CD ROMs, or a discussion thread to enrich a regular classroom, or a course delivered completely online. All other terms related to learning are subsets of elearning.
What is blended learning?
Another term that is gaining currency is blended learning. This refers to learning models that combine traditional classroom practice with e-learning solutions. For example, students in a traditional class can be assigned both print-based and online materials, have online mentoring sessions with their teacher through chat, and are subscribed to a class email list. Or a Web-based training course can be enhanced by periodic face-to-face instruction. "Blending" was prompted by the recognition that not all learning is best achieved in an electronically-mediated environment, particularly one that dispenses with a live instructor altogether. Instead, consideration must be given to the subject matter, the learning objectives and outcomes, the characteristics of the learners, and the learning context in order to arrive at the optimum mix of instructional and delivery methods.
What is Face to Face instruction?
Face to face instruction refers to any learning where the instructor and the student are in the same classroom at the same time in a "traditional" classroom setting. The definition of traditional education varies greatly with geography and by historical period.
The chief business of traditional education is to transmit to a next generation those skills, facts, and standards of moral and social conduct that adults deem to be necessary for the next generation's material and social success (Dewey, 1938). As beneficiaries of this scheme, which educational progressivist John Dewey described as being "imposed from above and from outside", the students are expected to docilely and obediently receive and believe these fixed answers. Teachers are the instruments by which this knowledge is communicated and these standards of behavior are enforced (Dewey, 1938).
Historically, the primary educational technique of traditional education was simple oral recitation (Beck, 2009). In a typical approach, students sat quietly at their places and listened to one individual after another recited his or her lesson, until each had been called upon. The teacher's primary activity was assigning and listening to these recitations; students studied at home. A test might be given at the end of a unit, and the process, which was called "assignment-study-recitation-test", was repeated. In addition to its overemphasis on verbal answers, reliance on rote memorization (mindless memorization with no effort at understanding the meaning), and disconnected, unrelated assignments, it was also an extremely inefficient use of students' and teachers' time. It also insisted that all students be taught the same materials at the same point; students that did not learn quickly enough failed, rather than being allowed to succeed at their natural speeds. This approach, which had been imported from Europe, dominated American education until the end of the 19th century, when the reform movement imported progressive education techniques from Europe (Beck, 2009).
Students will have a positive attitude and have a preference towards the use of Blended Learning instead of face to face learning in the teaching of ICT.
Background and Literature Review
The increase in the use of technology has impacted our everyday lives and developing countries, such as Thailand, are also seeing an increase in the demand for use of technologies. The demand for the use of eLearning has increased. According to IDC Research, an increase of 30 percent in yearly spending on eLearning was expected by 2008, which is an increase from 14 billion dollars in 2004 (SmartPros, 2005).
In Thailand, there is a target from the government to boost ICT literacy and computer use. A "Smarter Thailand" with "Smarter People" and a "Smarter Government" - this is the main goal of Thailand's second Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plan for 2009-2013, drafted by the National Electronic and Computer Technology Center. The initiative from the ICT Ministry in Thailand to encourage 50 percent of the population over the age of 15 to be ICT literate and be able to use computers in their everyday lives and enable to country to become a major competitor in the global market. According to Assoc Prof Dr Thanomporn Laohajaratsang, director of Chiang Mai University's Information Technology Service Centre, "Progress in the use of ICT in education has been very slow and uneven. Its utilization lacks continuity in terms of government support, budget and professional development." (TAN, L. C., et al., 2009).
In 1984, computers were introduced to Thailand in the study of mathematics.
Studies show that the achievements of Thai students in the core subjects at both primary (prathom) and secondary (mathayom) schools were below the international averages. The findings prompted several education reforms, with ICT seen as an innovative intervention to help develop a knowledge-based society. (TAN, L. C., et al., 2009). The first ICT Master Plan in 2002 and the current ICT Master Plan are seen as instruments for providing vision and strategies for the use of learning technologies to improve the quality of education in the country.
According to the vice-president of the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching and Technology Dr Pornpun Waitayangkoon, the government in Thailand does not provide enough funds to meet the ICT needs. Also, the Ministry of Education's "Model ICT Schools" project aims to make student-centered learning a reality and the "Cyber University" project tries to provide more opportunities for distance higher education. To support these efforts, more online teaching and learning resources are encouraged and increased.
A recent sample survey suggested the following issues for Thai educational professionals to contemplate (Unesco, 2003):
- Much of the current use of ICT in the classroom still focuses on the drill and practice type of learning.
- There would appear to be an inadequate basic infrastructure.
- Lack of technical support.
- Integration of ICT in the teaching of subjects has been weak.
- The absence of policies and management support.
There is also a lack of research concerning the use of Blended Learning in primary school. Most research regarding online or Blended Learning focus on tertiary education institutions. Some research has been done in the teaching of various subjects with secondary school students. An example of this would be the development and research of the Getsmart website (Chandra et al., 2009). The study showed that the website enabled them to undertake learning activities at their own pace and convenience. The results of this study were positive towards the used of Blended Learning in a high school environment. However, this research represents the reason for further research. The students in this study were in high school and it focused on junior science and physics. This type of research is typical of the research found. There is no evidence to show if the use of Blended Learning is useful in a primary school environment and how it can be used in the teaching of the subject of ICT.
Hybrid or blended learning environments seem to be less controversial than pure e-learning courses and less likely to be resisted by academic staff in the tertiary sector (Young, 2002; Bonk, Kim and Zeng, 2006). There is still a believe that a teacher relating to a student face to face is the simplest and least expensive way for a teacher to establish a relationship with the student (Fungaroli-Sargent, 2000). The pure e-learning proponents may now acknowledge the merits of a blended approach as the pure e-learning model may still be viewed with some skepticism. This move towards Blended Learning has happened quietly with most tertiary institutions adopting a blended approach to eLearning without great publicity. A study conducted in Taiwanese schools find that there was a direct correlation between student satisfaction in the "face to face" or real world classroom and enjoyment of the web-based learning, which implies that the right mix or blending can be satisfying to students (She and Fisher, 2003).
There is a need for a teacher present in the classroom to not only teach but entertain, convey enthusiasm, expertise, experience and context (Bersin, 2004), things that may be difficult to convey in a pure eLearning environment.
Students appear to appreciate the face to face lectures by the teacher when they occur less frequently within a blended learning environment. This shows that a "face to face" environment is not necessarily the best or the standard by which everything should be measured. Depending on the course, the mix of face to face and online may differ. Allowing the teacher full control over their courses is important to allow the teacher to decide what is that best mix for his/her particular course (Young, 2002).
Review of literature on online learning show that the research is mostly focused on the outcomes of learning rather than the process of learning (Cumming et al., 2002; Gudzial and Turn, 2000; Hara and Kling, 1999; Hendrinks and Maor, 2003). These types of research then focus, primarily, on quantitative data that measures scores and learning outcomes rather than how the learner interprets or views his learning experience. The author, therefore, is taking a qualitative approach to this research to observe and test a Blended Learning environment in a primary school setting to shed light on perception and experience of the blended learning and find an optimal mix for the learning of ICT.
Blended Learning is a type of approach to eLearning. ELearning is the delivery of any learning by electronic means. "E-learning involves the use of a computer or electronic device (e.g. a mobile phone) in some way to provide training, educational or learning material." (Stockley 2003). There are different types of eLearning and these can be categorized by the student's degree of interactivity, student's time of presence and blending approach to name a few. For the purposes of this research, the author will take a blending approach to eLearning, meaning that it blends the approach using face to face as well as online learning.
According to a report published by the Sloan Consortium entitled "Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States", Blended Learning is divided into four types:
Table 2: Types of Blended Learning (Sloan-C, 2007)
Proportion of Content Delivered Online
Type of Course
Content delivered either orally or written with no technology used.
1 to 29%
Essentially a face to face course that uses technology, such as a webpage, to post a syllabus or an assignment.
30 to 79%
It blends face to face and online instruction. A substantial proportion is delivered through electronic means.
80% to 100%
Most or all of the content is delivered online with little or no face to face meetings.
A blended learning approach can combine face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instruction. It also applies science or IT activities with the assistance of educational technologies using computer, cellular or iPhones, Satellite television channels, videoconferencing and other emerging electronic media. Learners and teachers work together to improve the quality of learning and teaching, the ultimate aim of blended learning being to provide realistic practical opportunities for learners and teachers to make learning independent, useful, sustainable and ever growing (Graham, 2005).
This research attempts to find if a student's learning experience in ICT is affected by the use of face to face vs blended learning in the teaching of ICT.
- Blended learning instruction in ICT class.
- Face to Face learning instruction in ICT class.
- Student's perception towards the use of blended learning in ICT.
- Student's perception towards the use of face to face instruction in ICT.
- Student's perception towards the learning experience in ICT.
The following is a schematic representation of the variables. The aim is to investigate student's perception of their learning in ICT using two different delivery methods, Face to Face instruction and Blended Learning. Then, gather qualitative data to determine if the method of delivery influences their perception of the learning experience in ICT class.
American Psychological Association (1997). Learner-centered psychological principles: A framework for school redesign and reform. http://www.apa.org/ed/lcp.html 2/9/2003.
Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) 2001 Curriculum Online - a consultation paper. DfEE, London
Beck, Robert H. (2009). The Three R's Plus: What Today's Schools are Trying to Do and Why. U of Minnesota Press. pp.3-6.
Bersin, J. (2004) The blended learning book: Best practices, proven methodologies, and lessons learned, Pfeiffer, San Francisco.
Bonk, C., Kim, K. J., and Zeng, T. (2006) Future directions of blended learning in higher education and workplace
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