Blended Teaching and Learning in a New Zealand Rural Secondary School: Using an Ecological Framework
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
Blended online teaching and learning is a fast developing area for educational providers around the world. In New Zealand, the Virtual Learning Network enables students from more than 250 schools to experience blended learning, by enrolling in blended distance courses in addition to the face-to-face courses that their home schools offer. More and more teachers across the country also implement online content in their face-to-face teaching, experimenting with a variety of tools and offering blended web-enhanced courses to their students. The rollout of Ultra Fast Broadband is expected to increase the uptake of blended approaches in schools across the country. School wide implementation of blended teaching learning is expanding, but it is challenging even for schools that have been part of a rural e-learning cluster for many years. The need to investigate how blended teaching and learning is implemented in schools is increasing to identify the implications for students, teachers, school leaders and other educational stakeholders. A case study methodology was applied to investigate how blended teaching and learning was implemented in 2011 in a New Zealand rural secondary school that was one of the early adopters of blended approaches. Data collection methods included interviews with the ePrincipal of the school’s e-Learning cluster, the school principal and six teachers using blended approaches, observations in one blended web-enhanced class, group interviews with six students from the same class, as well as a review of documents and web resources. The findings focus on the uptake of blended teaching and learning at the school, the support that the school received from its e-Learning cluster and the support the school offered to teachers. School leaders’ and teachers’ vision for student learning was also examined, along with teachers’ practices with blended approaches, the advantages and challenges that participants observed and/or experienced, as well as the school’s future directions regarding blended teaching and learning. The study is the first to apply Davis’s (2008, in press) arena of change with digital technologies in education to present the complexity of change with blended teaching and learning in a secondary school. The roles of multiple stakeholders and their organizations impacting on and being impacted by the development of blended teaching and learning, including students, teachers, other teaching staff, school leaders, parents/community, professional, commercial/OER (Open Educational Resources), bureaucratic and political organizations are discussed. A coherent set of recommendations are made for all levels in the multilevel ecological hierarchy, including school leaders and policy makers.