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Blended learning and the development of student responsibility for learning: a case study of a ‘widening access’ university

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Online learning has the potential to widen participation by offering flexibility, but it requires students to learn independently, for which they need to take responsibility for their learning. Learner responsibility is crucial in higher education and lifelong learning, and the development of the skills and attitudes required to learn online should have the added value of helping students to develop into independent learners. This report on research on students' experiences of courses with some online delivery - at a university that has a high proportion of ‘non-traditional’ students - explores issues of responsibility for learning, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the management of self-directed study. The findings suggest that those students who did not understand the need to take responsibility for their learning, or how the technology provided opportunities for them to learn independently, did not benefit fully from the opportunities provided by blended learning. Not only do students need to be supported in learning to use the technology, but also in understanding the demands of online learning and the contribution it makes to their learning. With appropriate support students gain added value from the blended learning experience. Otherwise, online resources are underused and valuable skills in independent learning underdeveloped.
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Keywords: Blended learning; online learning; technology-enhanced learning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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