Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 14(1), 54-71. (2014)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study presents one instructor’s perceptions of her roles, focusing on her activities in a blended course.
The participant was a female instructor, who was one of eight instructors who teach an advanced social studies methods course during the spring semester, when this study was conducted.
The participant had been teaching intern teachers with a blended approach for 1 year.
She had worked as a field instructor in this program for 3 years.
She also had 10 years of K-12 teaching experiences.
Thus, she was selected on the basis of her experience in the K-12 classroom and in the program as well as her experience with online learning.
Instructors’ role framework and activity theory were used as theoretical frameworks.
Data included classroom and online observations, weekly interviews after face-to-face classes, and a final interview at the end of the semester.
The results indicated that the instructor saw her roles primarily as pedagogical, managerial, social, and technical.
She also emphasized and developed students’ internet literacy skills, such as e-mail responses, computer use, online participation and collaboration, and online etiquette.
In addition, the instructor indicated that she needed to change and adapt thoughtfully her previous teaching philosophy and methods to her students and the blended environment.
As a result, her experiences with this new blended approach helped evolve her own pedagogy and professional practices both in face-to-face and blended course teaching.
The findings from this study raise some important issues to be discussed for future study.
First, this study used activity theory as a theoretical framework for examining an instructor’s activities and the relationships among six components of an activity system (participants, tools, objectives, rules, community, and division of labor/role).
By following one instructor’s activities in an activity system, this study showed that the change and growth of the participant’s activity and perceptions of a blended approach were influenced by the six components.
However, this study focused only on one instructor’s experience within her blended course activity system.
This study suggests that ongoing support from cohorts and institutions is necessary for instructors who implement new blended approaches.
Second, regarding methodological perspective, a weekly interview protocol can help researchers follow the change and development of participants.
The weekly interview protocol also helped with understanding how the instructor experienced unexpected difficulties, solved problems, and reconstructed her instruction.
Therefore, in order to examine and support instructors’ experiences in a blended learning environment, this study suggests that educators need more narrow analysis of instructors.
Third, this study showed the potential benefits of blended learning communities, which include online and face-to-face communities.
The intern teachers shared their experiences and information and extended them to online learning communities.
As with the blended learning approach, researchers need to examine how blended learning communities influence participants’ experiences and perceptions in blended communities.
Fourth, when applying a blended approach in teacher education programs, this study shows that educators and program designers should be aware of the differences between other higher education programs and teacher education programs.
Therefore, blended course designers should be aware of the need to connect field experiences and intern teachers.
Furthermore, educators need to provide goal-driven, constructive, and student-centered methods for designing classes and to create learning communities within the larger educational community to share empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the blended approach.