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Teaching English studies through blended learning

Educational research generally uses the term ‘blended learning’ to refer to a combination of traditional face-to-face classroom methods with more modern computer-mediated activities. It is transforming learning and teaching in higher education. However although virtual learning environments (VLEs) and new teaching technologies are ubiquitous in UK universities they are often under-used by academics and students. Sometimes technology is seen as a distraction from the real business of learning and teaching. This report will consider some of the challenges and opportunities that arise from using blended learning in the context of English studies and reflect on future possibilities.

This report arises from a workshop held in the School of English University of Leeds  in May 2012. Participants discussed how the learning opportunities created by technology could be successfully blended with more traditional forms of interaction. They also critically investigated the idea of blended learning considered its value in terms of student attainment and employability and learnt from diverse case studies. Feedback on the workshop was generally good but a couple of delegates with particular expertise in the area questioned whether the discussion was at a high enough level. Some academics working in English studies are engaged with blended learning in a systematic and cutting-edge fashion. Some are not using it at all. The majority of academics work between those two poles often in a way that is piecemeal and ad hoc. This report draws on recent research and scholarship but is not particularly aimed at blended learning experts; rather it is directed towards the majority of university teachers of English.

This report provides a brief survey of blended learning in general; it showcases debates from the workshop; and highlights key issues facing staff and students who are interested in developing and delivering blended learning in English studies.

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