Views on Blended Learning Professional Development Training: A Case Study of an Egyptian Further School of Education

Abstract

 Presenter (s) Nada Ezzatlo, The American University in Cairo

Altruism behavior could play an essential role on facing the global unprecedented and unpredictable issues resulting from the constant change in the ecosystem. Only education is expected to play a chief role in safeguarding the path towards altering the current egocentric actions towards the environment since the resources of overpopulated countries could be easily depleted. According to El-Wahaidy, 2018, overpopulation negatively impacts the plans to reach sustainable development. Equal learning opportunities and quality education could ensure ceasing the current behavior towards depleting our environment. Nowadays, educators are required to play a major role in this predicament. However, the instructors need to go through professional development workshops and programs which ensure that they would be able to change the learners’ attitude towards altruism. This paper focuses on the role of professional development workshops held for the instructors working at a higher education institution aiming at implementing blended learning techniques.

In Egypt the population has reached 101,172,280. This places the country as the 14th on the list of countries’ populations. (Maged, 2019). These demographic changes have distinct impacts on several levels such as the increase of the illiteracy rate, according to the 2017 census (El-Wahaidy, 2018). Thus, resorting to technology to address such problems could be obliging on facing the problem of overpopulation. For example, blended learning techniques could help in educating Egyptian learners especially those living in remote areas. People living in governorates away from the capital could have a good chance of getting quality education in a cost-effective manner by being provided access to qualified instructors that are not available in their homes. (Means, 2013). Thus, qualifying the instructors who are altering their regular classes to blended learning technique is vital.

An Egyptian school for continuing education affiliated to a higher education institution, offered a blended learning course for continuing education students. It was expected that the meetings prior launching the course and the well-prepared content which was placed on a special server would ensure successful implementation of the blended learning courses. However, due to the students’ complaints, it was decided, after the first week, that the planned blended courses would proceed but through using flipped learning technique. On the other hand, it was decided that the instructors would attend professional development workshops on implementing blended learning prior to the following term.

Accordingly, a qualitative study was conducted to know the views on the effectiveness of the workshops provided to instructors. A qualitative method is used to have a deeper perspective on the addressed issue by recording the participants shared answers regarding the regarding the implementation of blended learning in the Egyptian context. Semi-structured interviews were conducted 8 instructors who attended professional development training in order teach blended learning courses. The data analysis method used is content analysis where themes are identified to derive interpretations and answer the case study’s’ research question.
The research focused on the following; What are the participant’s views of the relevance of the professional development training facilitated to the instructors to address their needs? -Were the elements of social, cognitive and teaching presence considered in the pedagogy, the content and the assessments of the professional development training? The theoretical frameworks in this case study is the community of inquiry by Garrisons, (2017).

The initial results revealed the instructors’ satisfaction regarding the relevance of the content to their needs as educators. The feedback provided on the assessments helped to comprehend clearly different strategies to address learners concerns prior implementing the blended learning courses. Moreover, the instructors declared that the professional development events encouraged them to build a community of inquiry that would aid them to proceed with professional development which would be reflected on their learners. Therefore, the preliminary results reflect how educating the educators and being keen on professional development in addition to ensuring selecting the accurate diffusion of innovations stages, could lead to creating learning communities which could cope up with the challenges on implementing novel methodologies.

The practical implications of these results may aid in having a deeper understanding of the previous implementations of blended learning education. Higher education institutions may refer to these results in order to understand previous experiences reasons for success and failure in implementing new educational innovation, and in understanding the vitality of professional development for its educators. The study also suggests several techniques to facilitate effective professional development events where educators have the chance to build a community of inquiry, and where other higher education institution would consider while diffusing blended learning as an education innovation. Facilitating education may aid in changing the patterns of behavior in the Egyptian society. It is not a far-fetched dream that our population would be sharing in facing global issues especially when the ecosystem is involved.

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