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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Conceptualizing the Blended Learning Pedagogical Practices: An Activity Theory Approach to Faculty Development

El Hadji Yaya Koné (Université de Montréal, Canada)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 1:45pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Theory/Conceptual Framework
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

Innovative pedagogical practices for faculty developmment in the context of Blended Learning at University.

Extended Abstract

Context of the research
The practitioner's reflection on how he thinks in action can help portray his theories-in-use, in terms of values, action strategies and outcomes (Argyris & Schön, 1974; Schön, 1983). But, the reflection-in-action implies cognitive and operational modeling of activity that makes the practitioner act effectively (Pastré, 2005). Thus, it is relevant to consider Schön's (1983) concept of reflective practicum as regards to activity theory when we look into the way the pedagogical experiential knowledge of combining face-to-face instruction and e-learning solutions, called Blended Learning (BL), are built in action. In this respect, we have been carrying out, since the fall 2014 semester, a doctoral research project on the professional development of two lecturers in the context of Blended Learning (BL) at HEC Montreal in Quebec, the largest international francophone business school in Canada. The two faculty members respectively teach Sociology of Work and Project Design to undergraduate students in the department of management.

Sampling method
The selection of the two participants is based on the relevance of their characteristics to the research project. One is full-time; he has been practicing face-to-face instruction in higher education for thirty-two years and online instruction for five years. The other one is part-time; she has started university teaching in face-to-face instruction since the winter 2013 semester and has been involved with online instruction since the summer and fall 2014 semesters. The principle behind this purposive sampling stems from Huberman's (1989) theoretical approach to teacher professional development, stipulating that three years of practice provide a minimum of experiential knowledge which can help the teacher experiment new avenues of practices. Although the part-time faculty has taught online only for two semesters, students can be different from one semester to the other so that a teacher will always have to adapt his/her approach.

Theoretical framework and research questions
Modeling professional activity underlies the cognitive ergonomics approach to expertise development; what the practitioner is supposed to do and what he effectively does might be different because of contingencies. He is to make the best choice to carry out the task with regards to his past experiences. In doing so, he elaborates experiential knowledge contributing to his professional development. This approach relies on Marx's theory of human nature in relation to the transformational impact of work: As Man works to produce; the working process can bring about changes in him. In this way, labor turns out to be a productive and constructive activity. As for Marx, human nature is inextricably linked to activity. The means of production impact Man's personality. Although labor aims at production, Man has to think on how to produce; he maps his actions for better insights into his working process. In the light of this theoretical framework, the research question is put as follows: How does each lecturer, in the course of the teaching action, conceptualize the structure of the pedagogical situation to effectively manage the learning activities combining face-to-face instruction and e-learning solutions? The goal is to understand the transformation process of the teaching practices grounded in the context of BL in higher education and thereby point out innovative pedagogical practices for faculty development. Therefore, it is relevant (1) to describe how the two lecturers articulate human and technology mediations in reflecting on the action, (2) to configure significant and rooted pedagogical practices, based on their particular approaches to overcome the hindrances in combining face-to-face and e-learning instructions and consequently (3) to design a model of faculty development in the context of BL as regards to the reflective practice.

Methodological approach
The methodological framework is quite qualitative. It is based on the grounded theory approach: 45 hours of class attendance, as a participant observer with a logbook, both on campus and online, for each course during the fall 2014 semester. Simple and cross self-confrontation interview techniques of the activity theory were conducted, by having the lecturers watch and self-analyze some screen captures of their synchronous online teaching activities to explicit their theories-in-use as regards to endogenous and exogenous parameters that impact their actions. The discourse analyses are on-going. They are explicating the way the two lecturers build up in the course of their teaching actions, both in class and virtually, the BL pedagogical experiential knowledge through the constructive alignment of activities integrating efficiently face-to-face instruction to e-learning solutions with ICT. Therefore, this presentation is meant for academic instructors, instructional designers and administrators at university level.

Preliminary results and discussion
The first significant abstraction of the two lecturers' dialogical thinking, with regards to the contingencies, points to the construction of schemes of actions in situ based on their experiential knowledge, as well as their sense of ingenuity and flexibility in approaching active learning, within a well-integrated and significant online and face-to-face instructions patterns, to cognitively engage the students, to increase their motivation and to center their attention. Yet, their cognitive and operational modeling of BL pedagogy shows key variables that help them to adapt their teaching and thereby to determine their choice of strategies to enhance the students' learning experiences. Our presentation will explicit these variables and discuss their relationships that can contribute to faculty development. Slides will be provided during the presentation and submitted to the conference proceedings.