Hart, Tina, Fellowes, Melanie and Jabbar, Abdul (2011) The challenges of student engagement on GDL blended learning. In: The Sixth International Blended Learning Conference, 15th June 2011, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Herts., UK.. (Unpublished)
Abstract

The Huddersfield University Law School has provided the Graduate Diploma in Law since 1998 on a flexible learning basis. In 2010 it was decided to offer the course purely on a blended learning basis with no attendance required. Induction would be provided via completion of an online fully integrated e-learning bridging course which would act as a gateway to the School of Law’s e-learning provision.

This kind of provision leads to its own challenges for staff and students. It required detailed planning on pedagogy that is appropriate to the online environment. This was supported by the development of learning designs (Agostinho 2002). In addition, for many staff the development of this type of pedagogy required training in software that they were not overly familiar with and the development of additional “online” moderation skills to supplement their “offline” teaching skills.
The change in delivery mechanism brought additional challenges which have always existed in the “offline” environment in one guise or another; these include what methods can be utilised to engage students in the online learning process?, how to facilitate the learning of the struggling student at the same time as the high achiever?, how can academics achieve deep critical interaction between student and tutors while helping them to develop their academic and personal skills?

Pure online blended learning has inherent problems that need to be addressed on behalf of academics and students. Current student feedback indicates that flexibility is a welcome addition but this needs to be underpinned with deeper academic support. Within this context how can academics develop pedagogy that supports student engagement without sacrificing the inherent flexibility?

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