The experience of high school seniors in a blended learning class and its potential support to post-secondary pursuits : a case study.
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Epperson, Barbara Boykin, 1982-
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Blended learning has been a contemporary buzzword with numerous educational institutions implementing blended learning courses. It combines face-to-face learning with online or distance learning. K-12 education has different restraints for blended learning courses, such as standards, seat time, and policy compared to higher education. The greatest limitation for higher education remains the legitimacy of online learning in the eyes of many professors and researchers. Simultaneously, K-12 distance learning and forms of online education grew due to evolving technologies and policies, but this growth occurred with limited interaction between K-12 and higher education. Since research on online and blended learning remained modest resulting from skepticism, researchers called again for an increase of studies about blended and online learning. Changing educational policy, technology, and shifting perceptions of blended learning led to a moderate uptick of research on blended learning and online learning of both K-12 and higher education. Major universities increasingly implement online classes, which in turn can lead to more research of both higher education and K-12 education. Meanwhile, blended learning received growing support from K-12 educators partly due to the recent emphasis on 21st century skills. The combination of growing support for 21st century skills and blended and online classes in conjunction with limited research, especially from the student perspective, is the backdrop of the current study. This multiple case study lends insight into blended learning from students’ perspectives of the class during their senior year of high school. I inquired how or if the course provided support for the participants’ post-secondary pursuits, including full time employment, military, community college, and university studies. The conceptual framework provided a lens to explore students’ perceptions of blended learning; it combined the theory of transactional distance (Moore, 1997) and the Four Cs (NEA, 2014). The theory of transactional distance shapes student outcomes and describes teacher actions with three parts of structure, dialogue, and learner autonomy (Moore, 1997). The Four Cs are 21st century skills of creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking (NEA, 2014). By analyzing students’ viewpoints of the course, I considered if the methods of blended learning provided support or hinderance of post-secondary pursuits.