ReCALL

Research Article

Learning to teach online or learning to become an online teacher: an exploration of teachers’ experiences in a blended learning course

Anna Comas-Quinna1

a1 Department of Languages, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom (email: A.Comas-Quinn@open.ac.uk)

Abstract

A key role in the successful implementation of any learning approach is played by teachers, so how well blended learning works will depend largely on how well teachers make the transition from their traditional face-to-face classroom roles to the wider more complex role that blended learning requires. The additional skills and the forging of a new professional identity might not come easily to all practitioners.

This paper evaluates the impact that the introduction of blended learning in a distance language learning course has had on teachers. It presents and discusses findings from a small-scale evaluation study which compared quantitative and qualitative data gathered through a survey and a small number of interviews with participant observations from the researcher and the institutional end-of-course debriefing report.

The paper argues that whilst technological challenges and the sheer amount of change that teachers were faced with were largely responsible for some of the negative attitudes reflected in teachers’ opinions about the course, a less obvious, broader explanation for the difficulties that teachers encountered might be found in the way that learning, teaching and training are conceptualised by both teachers and the institution.

It is proposed that a transmission of knowledge approach to training fails to acknowledge and properly support the transformation of teachers’ identity that results from moving from traditional classroom-based teaching to online teaching. The shift goes beyond the acquisition of ICT skills and requires a pedagogical understanding of the affordances of the new medium and an acceptance by the teacher of his or her new role and identity.

(Online publication September 01 2011)

Keywords

  • teacher training;
  • teacher identity;
  • online teaching;
  • blended learning