Perceptions of hybrid learning among Distance Education students, University of Ghana

A study conducted by Dr. Esinam Afi Kayi and other faculty members at the Department of Distance Education of the School of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE), College of Education, has shown that Distance Education students at the University of Ghana do not have a positive perception about blended learning systems.

The study, which sought to explore the perceptions of Distance Education learners in a blended or hybrid learning environment amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana, was recently discussed at the  Department of Distance Education Monthly Seminar.

It was noted that although blended learning was already being used for the Distance Education programme, the COVID-19 pandemic had made it even more relevant to gain more understanding of the system and its associated benefits and challenges.

While noting that blended learning in higher educational institutions has grown in popularity in the wake of technological advancement, Dr. Esinam Kayi and her team outlined a number of possible reasons why Distance Education students at the University of Ghana had an unfavourable perception of blended learning. 

The researchers cited  issues such as poor internet access and challenges with technology, which limit  participation in online learning activities,  as major factors contributing to students’ negative perception about the blended learning systems.

Another significant factor contributing to the negative perception was the perceived lack of engagement by course facilitators with students.

To buttress this point, Dr. Kayi stated that “Thompson and Porto (2014) assert that adult learners in an online learning environment experience several challenges ranging from isolation in educational experience as a consequence of lack of support through related resources and orientation, additional responsibilities and workload at home and the workplace. Thus, a combination of these experiences in an online learning environment may diminish the positive benefits of the instructional delivery and negatively affect the views/opinions that students may otherwise have.”

The study  concluded that implementing blended learning as a pedagogical tool for Distance Education learners may not be sufficient in altering the conceptions about hybrid learning.

The research team recommended that effective implementation of blended learning should correspond with an improvement in the learning environment, particularly the improvement  of access to internet and IT resources; orientation and coping skills as well as improvement in support services for learners.

The seminar was chaired by Dr. Samson Obed Appiah, a senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology (UG) and examinations officer for the School of Continuing and Distance Education.