This book on blended learning environments to foster self-directed learning highlights the focus on research conducted in several teaching and learning contexts where blended learning had been implemented and focused on the fostering of self-directed learning. Several authors have contributed to the book, and each chapter provides a unique perspective on blended learning and self-directed learning research. From each chapter, it becomes evident that coherence on the topics mentioned is established. One of the main aspects drawn in this book, and addressed by several authors in the book, is the use of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework when implementing teaching and learning strategies in blended learning environments to foster self-directed learning. This notion of focusing on the CoI framework is particularly evident in both theoretical and empirical dissemination presented in this book. What makes this book unique is the fact that researchers and peers in varied fields would benefit from the findings presented by each chapter, albeit theoretical, methodological or empirical in nature – this, in turn, provides opportunities for future research endeavours to further the narrative of how blended learning environments can be used to foster self-directed learning.
Copyright (c) 2022 Christo van der Westhuizen, Mncedisi C. Maphalala, Roxanne Bailey (Volume editor)
With the pivot to remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, blended approaches to learning have received an increasing amount of attention. Virtually all courses in higher education already incorporated digital technologies to some degree, and the pandemic accelerated this adoption. These technologies have created new possibilities for students to interact with their peers, faculty, and content. The infusion of information and communications technology in higher education has drawn increased attention to the theory and practice of blended learning. The pandemic resulted in a forced test of the potential of blended learning. The possibilities and constraints associated with this approach to learning were in many ways unfairly put to the test as many educators lacked a research-based framework to guide the redesign of their courses and programs. Blended learning inherently demands a fundamental rethinking of the educational experience and presents a challenge to traditional presentational approaches. If we are to deal with the theoretical and practical complexities of rethinking the educational experience from a blended learning perspective, then the first challenge is to provide conceptual order that goes beyond rigid, non-reflective recipes. Such order and coherence are of particular importance for peers who may not fully appreciate the possibilities that new and emerging technologies present for helping students become self-directed learners. In order to overcome this challenge, Blended learning environments to foster self-directed learning provides educators with a variety of conceptual frameworks to help educators redesign their courses. The first two chapters provide specific conceptual frameworks while the other eight chapters provide recommendations and lessons learned from research studies about how blended modules (courses) can help students become self-directed learners.
Prof. Dr Norman Vaughan, Department of Education, Faculty of Health, Community, and Education, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada