Using blended learning to increase learner support and improve retention
Improving retention and identifying 'at risk' learners are high profile issues in higher education, and a proposed solution is to provide good learner support. Blending of online learning with classroom sessions offers the potential to use a virtual learning environment to deliver learning activities, and to support learners using a distance learning model. Online tracking can also help to target 'at risk' learners quickly. In an action research project to improve retention, a blended module with proactive tutor support was compared with a previous cohort of the module and with similar classroom-only modules where there was no focus on learner support. Learners were also interviewed and the tutor kept records of the learner contact time. The resulting improved coursework submission rate was attributed to learner motivation as a result of peer and tutor support. The total teaching time was no greater in this model, although the workload distribution changed, and the tutor needed to be highly skilled in e-learning.
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