Using Blended Learning to Enhance Student Learning in American Literature Courses
This study taps the English learners' interest in and attitudes toward the use of technology in English literature classes. It also investigates the influence of integrating the blended learning approach on the English literature students' learning and on the changes in their attitudes and behavior toward computer technology usage.
Questionnaires as well as the recordings on the platform dedicated to the course were employed to gather the required data. The Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE) platform had been used as a tool for applying the experiment. In addition, the online program; the Text Content Analyzer had been used to analyze the learners' participations on the forum.
The results showed the learners' positive attitudes toward using CT in learning English literature courses. They also highlighted the main obstacles impeding application, and the proper strategies that could be taken into consideration for efficient integration of CT components in the learning process. The results also showed the effectiveness of using the BL in the American Literature Course for developing and improving the learners' performance in quantity and quality; and its effect on the students' learning and behavior toward using CT.
The early interest in integrating computer technology (CT) into the educational process approximately started in the 1950s. Yet, from the 1980s forward, the idea started to occupy a noticeable position in research and application. This in turn has led to significant developments in the educational system as a whole in terms of the teaching approaches, methodologies, and learning strategies. It has also stimulated more research and exploration of the potentials of utilizing CT within the teaching-learning process in general, and teaching languages in particular.
Both theoretical and empirical evidence have testified to the effectiveness of CT in enhancing the teaching-learning process through various multimedia ( Krause 2008; Mustafa 2008; Oblender 2002; Teeter 1997; Edwards and Fritz 1997). CT has been showed to provide concepts, presentations, photographs, fixed drawings and animations as well as written texts, graphs, music, and other features, in a way which simulates real-life situations. This, in turn, stimulates the learners' activity, facilitates acquisition of knowledge, and helps in keeping and employing this knowledge in real life situations. All those contributions can lead to more learning, and give learning additional meaning and significance.
In the realm of language learning, CT is used as a tool alongside other components and as a supportive or supplementary ingredient that helps language learners improve their four skills, thus creating a rich, active learning environment. The term used to express the process of using C T in learning languages is, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), which in turn constitutes a prominent feature within the blended learning approach (BLA). E-Learning was perhaps the first threshold of using modern technologies in the educational process. It came as a response to the deficiency of the dominant traditional teaching approaches on the one hand and the demand for new advancements on the other. In fact, the advent of e-learning brought out the teaching-learning process from its traditional structure and concept. Traditionally, the teacher was the determiner, the obtainer and the imparter of knowledge and the students' role was restricted to passive recipients of knowledge.
E-learning brought to the teaching-learning process a broader and more progressive outlook; where the teacher has become an instructor, facilitator and planner while the learner became a researcher for information, hence, more active and effective in the teaching-learning process.
The advancements of computer technology and the advent of Internet in the late 20th century had given E-learning the impetus to expand its tools and methods in communication and delivery. It had become the phenomenon of the era. People would be able to access a wealth of online information, to learn about an endless set of subjects and to improve their different skills. It has, therefore, changed the whole landscape of the teaching-learning environment by enabling learners to learn anywhere, at any time, and at their own pace, hence, overcoming place and time constraints.
Nevertheless, E-learning is not absolutely optimal without flaws. Some educators had explored the e-learning approaches in depth and concluded that it suffers from a number of disadvantages and drawbacks. Their claims and arguments manifested the urgent need to new alternatives, which prompted the stakeholders to search for new approaches that combine the properties of both, the traditional learning and E-learning and, to overcome the deficiencies of both at the same time.
The way therefore was paved for the emergence of the blended learning approach (BLA) which blends different forms of traditional learning with various varieties of E-learning. In this sense, the BLA created an innovative teaching-learning methodology that increased the effectiveness of the teaching-learning situation and offered new opportunities for the creation of an interactive learning environment.
The main focus of this study is exploring the possibility of integrating computer technology in a more efficient way within the educational systems of Palestinian universities, particularly, the home institution of the researchers, Hebron University. But it is necessary prior to that to present a brief overview about CT status in the Palestinian educational institutions in general.
One may argue that the usage of instructional technology within the Palestinian institutions is at its lowest levels. At the formal level, administrative authorities and educational policy makers are not giving the instructional technology in general and the BLA in particular the attention they deserve. Instructional technology and BL are not adopted in the educational system, nor are they implemented or funded to be implemented in any of the educational institutions.