Blended learning as a term and a learning approach is still being refined, at times debated as a legitimate area of research, at times seen as the answer to the conundrum and challenges of the digital learner. Is it the Emperor’s new clothes? As Morrison (2003) suggests, blended learning could be seen as an uncertain or unsure strategy, or alternatively a way to find a solution to promises given for e-learning. Three case studies within this paper explore the possibilities of e-learning within a work-based framework. Elements of ‘neomillenial learning styles’ (Dede in Educause Quarterly vol 28 No 1 2005) reflected by students in postgraduate coursework programs provided the challenge and stimulation of designing and facilitating e-learning components, incorporating experiential or action learning with ‘associational’ approaches rather than linear ones. The journey to virtual simulations such as the postgraduate Newlandia incorporates the learner perspective, or how to activate neomillenial learning styles; blended learning with online and face-to-face community activist groups working for solutions to a water problem; and a virtual scenario which can appeal to and engage an internationalised user group. Do Dede’s neomillenial learners synthesise and process experiences rather than (or as well as) information? Is this mediated immersion a part of Newlandia’s applicability to the modern learner? The student teams of community activists and project managers described in the case studies incorporate a potent mix of learning styles, nationalities and backgrounds, expectations, interpersonal and technical skills and indicate a trend in millennial learners towards a community of knowledge which is collaborative, mobile and group-focused.
Field of Research
130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development