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Title: Implementation of blended learning: The experiences of students in the chemical engineering extended program physics course
Authors: Basitere, Moses 
Ivala, Eunice 
Keywords: Teaching;Higher education;Students;Internet;Assessments;Curricula
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Reading, UK: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Conference: 12th International Conference on e-Learning (ICEL 2017) 
Abstract: The emergence of the 'Fees Must Fall' (FMF) protest in South African Higher Education institutions has necessitated discussions on the improvement of the implementation of Blended Learning to supplement on campus face-to-face lecture delivery. While Blended Learning might be seen as a success in some developed countries, its implementation in a developing country such as South Africa, where there is differential access to resources must be done with caution. Otherwise, the implementation of Blended Learning may further alienate students from under-resourced communities. In the year 2016, the Chemical Engineering Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology introduced a web-based homework system, WileyPLUS in its first year physics course, to provide students with support through interaction with technology and also to assist the lecturer in providing timely feedback on assessments. Additionally, a social media application WhatsApp group was formed in order to facilitate learner-to-learner interactions outside the classroom. This paper presents findings of the students' experience of the system in the physics course using "Moore interaction" framework. The data was generated through focus groups with the students, which were carried out to gain insights into the students' experience of the implementation of the Blended Learning practice used in this study. Additionally, the student's paper based test and student's assessments were analyzed against each otherto deduce if online students' performance translates to paper-based tests. Student's comments on a WhatsApp group discussion during the "FMF" protests university shutdown is incorporated to show how a lack of interaction with the computer interface impacted on their experiences of blended learning. The results show that students who reside in the university residences, and have access to the university's resources such as computer and Wi-Fi, have a higher chance of improving their scores in the physics course compared to students who reside outside campus and have no access to computers and data to connect to the Internet. Furthermore, the results suggest that blended learning using the above technologies, if not employed carefully, has the potential to further alienate the group of students with limited access to resources. Some students from under-resourced backgrounds reported that the limited access to computers and Wi-Fi usually led them to cheating in their collaborations due to lack of time to interact with the online system. They indicated that they collaborated with some of their peers who reside on campus in order to get high scores in WileyPLUS, however, failed to perform equally in paper-based written assessment. Findings presented in this paper have important lessons and implications for universities in a developing country as it draws attention to the potential challenges that may arise from the implementation of Blended Learning.
Appears in Collections:Eng - Conference Proceedings

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