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Where are You? Settings and Tools of a Blended Learning Master Program in Healthcare
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Informatics.
Västerås Stad, Skolhälsovård.
2014 (Swedish)In: Hawaii 12th International Conference on Education: Conference Proceedings, 2014Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article examines educational settings and tools used in a master program in healthcare given as blended learning. An educational setting is understood as something in which education exists and refers to the totality of the surrounding conditions (Jaldemark, 2010). The formal educational setting of the master program was a blend of campus and online settings. The learners were situated in three different physical locations during the master program: campus, home and work. All program courses started with a campus meeting, with lectures and introductions to course content and assignments. There were also campus meetings planned in the middle and at the end of courses. In between campus meetings, synchronous and asynchronous online seminars delivered by means of a learning management system (LMS) were arranged and moderated by teachers. The number of online seminars in the courses ranged from two to nine per course. There were also individual and group assignments, traditional assignments as well as reflective journals, where learners were supposed to reflect on their learning process and personal development.

Materials and method

The research setting was a Swedish master program on quality improvement and leadership in health and welfare services given by Jönköping University. The first two years of the master program are organized as blended learning (Bonk and Graham, 2006), with lectures and seminars on campus and online seminars. During the third year of the program, the learners were expected to combine theory and practice by applying knowledge from program courses in their everyday jobs. The intention of the program thus was to enable learners to become reflective practitioners (Schön, 2003; Thompson and Thompson, 2008). There were 22 learners enrolled in the master program during the study.

A survey questionnaire was distributed to the learners online in order to explore their physical locations of learning and study, as well as which tools they used in the settings of home, campus and workplace. Two open-ended questions were added to the survey questionnaire about tools enhancing or making learning more difficult. The items of the questionnaire are presented in the Appendix. The empirical data collected by the questionnaire underwent a simple quantitative analysis, where proportions of tool use in different settings were calculated. The responses to the open survey questions were analyzed and categorized in themes by content analysis.

Findings

At campus, learners attended scheduled formalized campus meetings. They also, to a lesser extent, engaged in online seminars in the LMS and in group work. A majority of the learners performed 10% to 20% of their study tasks at campus:

“I’m only at campus on scheduled campus meetings, never otherwise (learner).”

Twenty percent of the learners worked with assignments, discussions and chats in the LMS while being at campus. A majority of the learners only engaged in face-to- face lectures, seminars and informal discussions with teachers and fellow learners on campus:

“Meeting and speaking with the other learners and using paper and pen are my tools on campus (learner).”

A majority (90%) of the learners performed 70% to 100% of their study tasks at home. 90% of the learners studied literature, participated in online seminars and did assignments at home, while 85% engaged in group work. Assignments in the LMS were the most frequently used tool (100%) while studying at home. 85% of the learners used discussions in the LMS and 50% used chats. Other tools used from home were e-meeting tools (40%), telephone and doodles. Ten percent of the learners did not study at home at all.

Assignments and discussions in the LMS were the most common tools used from work.

Different tools can be used in different contexts. At home I can use everything, which is stimulating. At work I can use the LMS when there is time left. The tools give me “freedom in learning” (learner).”

Chats were used by 50% of the learners. Other tools mentioned by the learners were MP3 players and the traditional tool of ‘paper and pencil’. Ten percent of the learners performed all their study tasks from work. 50% of the learners did not study at work, as they perceived that they had no assigned time or were not allowed to perform study task at their workplace.

To a limited extent learners participated in online seminars from work with teachers on campus, between important and demanding work tasks:

“Learner: I’m sorry but have to leave the discussion now. I have to perform an emergency operation.”

In transcripts from online seminars, there is also evidence of teachers travelling to and from home and campus while moderating the seminars:

“Teacher: Now I’m back again for real. I’ve been travelling for a while and my Internet connection was a bit shaky on the train.”

Conclusions

A multitude of setting and intersections were found in the study, as well as different tools used in different settings. The findings of the study make, in this respect the traditional concepts   of   ‘campus’ and ‘distance education’ obsolete. The findings support Jaldemark’s (2008) conclusion that the practice of higher education has gone through a process of convergence regarding distance, face-to-face and online education, more and more making distance education transforming and merging into online education. When designing blended learning as a mix of campus and online learning, it is particularly important to consciously decide which tasks are to take place on campus and which are to take place online as well as what tools are appropriate in different settings.

 

References:

Bonk, C.J. and Graham, C.R. (Eds.) (2006) The Handbook of Blended Learning. Global Perspectives, Local Designs, Pfeiffer, San Fransisco, CA.

Jaldemark, J. (2008) ‘Changes within the practice of higher education: participating in the educational communication through distance settings’, International Journal of Web Based Communities, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.173–187.

Jaldemark, J. (2010) ‘Participation in a boundless activity: computer-mediated communication in Swedish higher education’, PhD thesis, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.

Schön, D.A. (2003) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Ashgate. Publishing, Aldershot.

Thompson, S. and Thompson, N. (2008). The Critically Reflective Practitioner, Palgrave MacMillan, New York.

 

Appendix: Survey Questionnaire

Response alternative of each question is written within brackets.

  1. How many percentages of your studies take place at home? [0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%]

 

  1. What kind of study tasks do you perform at home? [Reading course literature, online seminars in the learning management system (LMS), assignments, group work, other tasks]

3. How many percentages of your studies take place on campus? [0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%]

4. What kind of study tasks do you perform on campus? [Reading course literature, online seminars in the LMS, assignments, group work, other tasks]

5. How many percentages of your studies take place at work? [0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%]

6. What kind of study tasks do you perform at work? [Reading course literature, online seminars in the LMS, assignments, group work, other tasks]

7. What tools do you use when studying at home? [Assignments in the LMS, chats in the LMS, discussions in the LMS, e-meeting tools like Adobe Connect and Skype, document sharing tools like Google Docs, other tools]

8. What tools do you use when studying on campus? [Assignments in the LMS, chats in the LMS, discussions in the LMS, e-meeting tools like Adobe Connect and Skype, document sharing tools like Google Docs, other tools]

9. What tools do you use when studying at work? [Assignments in the LMS, chats in the LMS, discussions in the LMS, e-meeting tools like Adobe Connect and Skype, document sharing tools like Google Docs, other tools]

10. Do the tools used in the program contribute to learning? If so, how?

11. Are there tools used in the program which hinder or make learning difficult? If so, which tools and why?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-22945OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-22945DiVA, id: diva2:683648
Conference
Hawaii 12th Annual International Conference on Education
Available from: 2014-01-05 Created: 2014-01-05 Last updated: 2015-02-23

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