Effective Integration of Information and Communication Technologies in Blended Learning Programs: A Morphogenetic Approach

By Dee Pratt.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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Currently criteria for evaluating mixed-mode courses do not go much beyond the paradigmatic level, which poses problems if the evaluator’s preferred paradigm of knowledge construction is not congruent with the course designer’s. A critical realist approach is suggested, using Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach to social structure in order to provide a deep-theory explanation for effective integration of ICT in blended learning, moreover, one which does not favour any particular pedagogical epistemology. This is because critical realism provides a meta-theory for exploring causality at the ontological level, and accepts the existence of diverse epistemological positions in its ontology, rather than prescribing educational belief and value systems. The proposed framework will be illustrated by applying it to three best-practice mixed mode courses designed for undergraduate lecturing, staff induction and research capacity building respectively. It is hoped that this application of a deep-theory explanation will not only identify for practitioners the elements which are likely to result in effective mixed mode course design, but will also explain why this is so. This study is part of an ongoing project being carried out at a university of technology, and is intended to contribute to a theory of hypermedia communication based on social functioning.

Keywords: Blended Learning, Higher Education, Critical Realism, Morphogenesis

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp.89-103. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 662.036KB).

Prof. Dee Pratt

Retired Professor, Directorate of Research and Postgraduate Support, Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships (RTIP), Durban University of Technology, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Professor (Dr.) Deirdre Pratt worked as Research Co-ordinator for the DUT Faculty of Arts & Design up to her retirement in December 2010, and is now assisting with research capacity building, co-ordinating the Language Literacy and Logistics research focus area, and continuing with supervision. Her specialist research area is systemic modelling, which has practical application in communication, curriculum design and research. The specialist applications of the modelling theory are as follows: lecturing in language/communication, designing e-learning courses, and research practice/supervision. Professor Pratt designs, sets up and runs mixed-mode Research Modules (on Blackboard and Moodle) for higher degree students, and has supervised two international students entirely online. After being identified as the Faculty Quality Champion in 2006, she chaired the Arts and Design Quality Commission in 2006/2007. She organised and chaired the FAD Conference 2009, which focused on the creative output of the Faculty of Arts and Design. In 2011 she was invited to join the DUT Space Science research group because of the relevance of her work to communication systems, both human and cybernetic. She has published three books related to her doctoral research and its applications, one of which is listed on the Web of Science.