Making it different: a blended learning pilot project with first year geography undergraduates

Gilmartin, Mary and Moore, Niamh (2008) Making it different: a blended learning pilot project with first year geography undergraduates. In: Universitas 21.


Internationally, recognition is growing that the transition between second and third; level education is raising a number of challenges for both students and educators. As; class sizes grow, resources become more constrained and the expectations of the; ‘ipod generation’ are transferred to the educational environment, the context of; university teaching and learning is being transformed. In recent years, there has; been a growing realisation that not all students learn the same way, a diversity of; learning styles is very often visible within the one student group and therefore; longstanding approaches to undergraduate education might not be ideal for all; students (Young, 2002). Within this context, modes of instruction that cater for; different paces of learning and learning styles by combining ‘traditional and electronic; media to cater for the “net generation” (Mohanna, 2007) have become increasingly; important. This paper discusses the transformation of an introductory human; geography module at University College Dublin (UCD) designed to promote variation; in and facilitate a diversity of teaching and learning approaches. It highlights the; important issues raised at the design and delivery stages, and assesses the potential; to embrace and expand on current understandings of blended learning. Our; understanding of blended learning, more broadly applied than in much of the; literature, allows us to move beyond the strictures of other popular approaches like; problem-based learning (Spronken-Smith, 2005). We argue that blended learning; offers a way of drawing on recent initiatives, particularly in terms of enquiry-based; learning, within the confines of growing resource restrictions and changing student; demands.

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