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Friday, June 20 • 9:30am - 10:00am
CON10.06 – Exploring a Blended Learning Model for Information and Geospatial Literacy: A Qualitative Study (Room A240)

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Participants will be acquainted with the results of a qualitative study examining a newly implemented blended (face-to-face and online) instructional model for geospatial and information literacy in the first year Social Sciences Inquiry program at McMaster University. Through focus groups with teaching assistants (TAs), instructional assistants (IAs), instructors and students we explored the following questions: 1) how well do students learn and apply geospatial and information fluency skills using online modules? and, 2) how satisfied are users with the new blended learning model?

The utilization of online technologies provides an opportunity to foster inquiry-based learning and broaden the student experience. Educators and learners are challenged to identify how useful these blended learning models are both for learners and instructors (Bednarz & Kemp, 2011).  Study results reveal one advantage of using online modules is the change in the context of classroom and lab experiences by freeing instructors and TAs to provide additional assistance to students. A disadvantage was the perceived pedagogical burden on course instructors who suggested that “library” support services and long-term planning, which includes instructors and students, are critical components of blended learning, for students (e.g., computer access, software, Internet connection), TAs (e.g., presentation) and instructors (e.g., course development needs, technical assistance). Key areas identified for module improvement include: increasing interactivity, developing generic skills-based modules, and on-going availability to upper year students.

We conclude that an opportunity exists to explore potential support services for this blended learning model, particularly as it relates to local and timely technical support in order to update digital resources. Respondents also illustrated the importance of engaging students in the process of blended learning model development. These results will spark a discussion among conference participants as to how other institutions deliver inquiry-based course content and the successes and challenges they experience.

Friday June 20, 2014 9:30am - 10:00am EDT
A240 McArthur Hall

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