5. ICNEE, 26-28 May 2003, Lucerne /
PEDAGOGICAL AND DIDACTICAL ASPECTS
BLENDED LEARNING AND DISTRIBUTED LEARNING
Arbeit und Technik, Wissenschaftszentrum Nordrein-Westfalen,
of Craiova, Computer Science Department, Craiova, Romania
ten Thij, I.E.R.,
Keywords: Open Distance Learning, Blended
Learning, Blended Learning Community, Distributed
many organisations are looking for new approaches to improve
learning processes of their staff in order to cope with many
changes and to be
competitive. One solution is the blending of traditional and
by distributed environments and learning communities which give
also a strategic
on business processes of the organisation.
this paper we briefly present some characteristics of blended
learning processes, blended
communities and distributed learning environments. We give an
example within the
programme, called the “ViReC e-Initiative”.
order to cope with nowadays
problems like the tremendous
globalisation process, the increasing of market
competition, and the rapid technical developments, many
organisations are looking for
new approaches of
and transfer; and, similarly, for attaining performance it is
also required a fundamental rethinking
of the design and implementation
collective improvement of learning processes is required
in order to cope with the flood of information (due also to the
growing use of the Internet) with an active participation of
learners, as well as managers and trainers.
the last 10 years
new learning methods using information technologies (IT) have
been introduced, like computer-based
open distance-learning (ODL),
e-learning, and distributed learning (DL). Experiences
made with such forms of learning (Cernian et al, 2000; ASTD,
2001; Berg et al, 2002; Hamburg et al, 2002) show that their
exclusive use does not contribute that much to real improvements
in quality, effectiveness, convenience and to a cost reducing of
learning processes. New methodologies have been sought and found
to achieve these objectives, while still making use of IT. Most
of these converge into a blending of traditional and
IT-based learning supported
by distributed environments and learning communities and
give a strategic impact on business processes of the
to E. Massie, one of the main reasons to use blended learning is
the understanding that most people "are not single-method
learners" and that "good instructors have always
combined great story
tools or even homework" (Rossett, 2002).
this paper we briefly present
of blended learning processes,
blended learning communities and distributed learning
environments and, in the upshot, it is given an example within
the EU-Minerva programme, called
2. BLENDED LEARNING
a simple linking
classroom training to e-learning activities. Today, the meaning
was extended and comprises the use of a combination of two or
more different training methods such as:
instruction combined with on-line instruction,
instruction combined with access to a coach or faculty member,
for "on-the-job training",
coaching combined with e-learning activities.
collaborative software, Web-based
are considered synergistically when the term blended learning is
present, it is customary to notice that blended learning
solutions are an efficient route to initiate
an organisation into e-learning.
steps, making this change easier to accept. Training
professionals can move small sections online
factor. Many organisations have already spent a lot of money for
developing materials, so that blended learning allows them to
supplement or complement existing courseware rather than replace
to varied blended learning approaches, the NIIT (Valiathan,
2002) categorises them into three models:
combines self-paced learning with instructor or facilitator
support to develop specific knowledge
and skills. Demonstrating procedures through
Labs or through the class room have to be organised.
which mixes various events and delivery
develop specific behaviours. This approach should be used to
teach content that
requires learners to try out a new behaviour in a risk-free
environment (e.g. soft skill
negotiation). It is
Learning Spaces and Discussion Forums with
knowledge management resources and mentoring to develop
that facilitates the transfer of tacit knowledge requires a
approach. Developing and maintaining a Knowledge base and
Knowledge Forums can
support this kind of learning.
learning focuses on optimising achievement of learning
objectives by applying IT to match the personal learning style
and contribute to transfer the needed knowledge to the right
person at the right time...
is no one formula to achieve the desired outcome - many factors
need to be considered before selecting the elements of a blended
solution. Figure 1 shows some
Figure 1: A Blended Learning Model (Source:
B. Allen, 2001)
3. BLENDED LEARNING COMMUNITIES AND DISTRIBUTED LEARNING
way to comply to
some of economical and technical
requirements may be, beside the application of different methods
of learning, the use of a new organizational form called a
community, as well as to increase the use of training in a
collaborative distributed learning environments.
become a boundary
for a smaller container for knowledge
relationships that can be used to increase individual
effectiveness and a
company's overall competitive
needed and which are the steps involved in building it.
this paper there were considered three ways
to apply the community
concept to foster blended learning.
face-to-face meeting. By engaging learners in structured
introductions and pre-work
through videoconferencing, online discussions, etc it becomes
possible to accelerate
openness, knowledge sharing and collaborative learning when
come together in person.
blended learning communities which can serve as vehicles for
people engaged, connected and productive for a designated period
blended learning communities include both Ice Breaker and
learning activities. They can be seen as
sandwich" since the face-to-face
meeting is typically "sandwiched" between group
interactions supported by e-learning
and collaboration tools and technologies.
Covey (1989) stresses that the collaboration in learning
processes creates a sense of synergy, an atmosphere of
excitement and passion for learning, for working together,
supporting the process of knowledge acquisition. In the
traditional model of training, the main
processes, by using distributed learning environments, the
relationships and interactions among people represent the main
channels for acquiring knowledge as well as creating new ones
and this process is supported by the use of IT.
of the main attributes of the open distance learning (where
teachers and students being physically separated by time/or
location can interact) is the role of self-directed learning,
e.g. without the regular presence of a teacher to drive the
learner. Content is generally delivered electronically via any
of the multiple options available in e-learning, although
elements of a classroom are not precluded.
to distributed learning environments, many of their "ingredients"
like text, graphics, audio and video or the use of group
discussions are not new in teaching. Some of the aspects which
make a learning environment revolutionary is that it enables
learners to access a wide range of resources rapidly and
economically, e.g. through the Internet and facilitate learners
to participate actively in social learning communities at any
time and from anywhere.
is a number of factors that are to be considered very important
for providing learning support to students through collaborative
distributed learning environment, like the following:
of the target group of learners (their prospective learning
to what they are responsible for,
learning materials that are specifically designed to be used
the Internet and
developing electronic libraries for students,
students with mechanisms and systems for reliable learning
finding instructional strategies which take best the advantages
of the new media,
which are effective for a subject area and for the target group
of them include building trust and common ground,
coordinating the communication and work activities within the
distributed environment and controlling the discussions.
specific problems which emerge in distributed learning
environments are the following:
the limited communication
difficult to know always who is the learning partner, what he or
she does and where he
or she is. A method of increasing the social presence is to
structure the learning
environment in virtual rooms and to build in guarantees of
trusted or reliable member
often it is difficult to understand what subject is discussed
and what the structure of the learning material is. The
development of a well
understanding problems. (Covey, 1989), (Hamburg et al., 2002).
and plots that usually go off smoothly in .face to face.
sometimes can split in a distributed learning environment. The
carrying out of learning
protocols within the use of learning environment could be a
solution in such a case.
project .ViReC e-Initiative. . University Virtual Resource
Centre based on a distributed learning environment.
attempt with a European dimension to change learning environment through blended
set up ensuring
methods and educational resources, as well as the best practice
applied at the partners in the Consortium (four universities and
two research institutions) by outlining an innovative
development of IT-based
educational products. This
project is clearly oriented toward the development of innovative
practices and services, having in view setting up a virtual
resource centre composed of a learning environment and use of
ICT tools, as well as to arise awareness of the impact of
blended learning in education.
remarkable results are foreseen, among them the most challenging
achievement will certainly be the creation of a number of
virtual laboratories interleaved with some real devices/equipment.
project outputs try to use blended learning and distributed
learning environments even in cases where classrooms or real
labs are the main forms of training, e.g. including a learning
program that provides seeking resources over the
Internet and the Web about a topic,
a product, a process or a device.
following table includes some of the features of the distributed
Messaging / E-mail
Surveys & Polls
Decision Support Tools
Streaming Audio & Video
Version Tracking & Control
Permission Based Access
addition to the above mentioned features, simplicity and
easy-to-use facilities are
of the ViReC environment:
the topic at hand and not about how to use the technology.
environment with students in higher education and vocational
training institutions. It is also planned the use a blended
learning model in a course on educational technology for
educational leaders that will provide them with a number of
practical hands-on-opportunities to experience IT-enhanced
its structure, the virtual resource center is reproducible,
allowing integration of cross-
curricular approaches. It will foster collaboration between
learners and educators and will also stimulate multidisciplinary
elaboration of the .ViRec e-Initiative. project the authors used
blended learning strategies based on distributed learning
environment by following the idea that a learning process is a
continuous process inseparable from work and that this process
can be improved by providing a better link between the way a
learner wants to learn and the learning program, including also
an IT-tool that is offered.
workgroup collaboration, knowledge management and learning
technologies, as well as processes
of all kinds will become increasingly prevalent as a means of
capturing informal or tacit knowledge that exists within the
organisation, but is not accessible through formal training
B. (2002): Competency-based
learning strategies that
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