Meeting diverse learner needs through blended learning

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Abstract: Many Emirati students entering Western-style tertiary environments do not possess the necessary language, study, academic literacy and critical thinking skills for them to succeed in tertiary education. The forty-week Computer, Research Skills and Projects (CRSP) Course was designed and implemented at Dubai Men's College to address these issues. Employing a design underpinned by Socio-constructivist principles and ICT enhanced learning and teaching (ICTELT), CRSP is administered using a blended learning approach. As such, it exploits the potential of ICT tools combined with face-to-face sessions to meet the needs of a variety of student learning preferences, while supporting the learners' shift into tertiary education by 'scaffolding', revising, taking risks, and practicing within safe environments.As part of the Foundations programme four projects are completed over two semesters, and although topics differ, the processes for each research project are repeated while the scaffolding support is gradually reduced, thereby integrating an iterative cycle of application, reflection, application. In addition to assimilating and applying research skills, students simultaneously acquire basic study skills, and responsibility for the students’ own learning is consequently fostered. A high level of support for students entering an English-medium tertiary environment is thus provided, effectively facilitating their transition to self-directed, independent learning, while assisting in the acquisition of study, thinking, interpersonal and analytical skills.As well as outlining the various aspects of CRSP and detailing how the blended delivery method influences learning and attitudes of both students and tutors, this paper also refers to research data which supports the pedagogical rationale behind the CRSP course design and delivery.Please cite as: Owen, H. (In press). Meeting diverse learner needs through blended learning. In B. Khan & J. Taylor (Eds.), ICT & E-Learning in the Middle East. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

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