Blended learning in teacher preparation programs: a literature review

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Date: April-June 2012
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,585 words
Lexile Measure: 1390L

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This paper reviews relevant literature on the concept and design of blended learning in Teacher Preparation Programs (TPPs). First, the authors define blended learning in this context and explained an activity system as an analytical framework. Second, the authors describe the method for choosing the studies in this literature review. Third, the authors present some findings through the lens of an activity system. Finally, the authors discuss how the activity system can analyze the effectiveness of blended learning. The activity system framework is very useful to examine the effectiveness of blended learning because the framework explains what components should be included and examined by research. This review could offer some guideline for the nature of blended learning in TPPs for future study.

Keywords: Activity System Framework, Blended Learning, Educational Technology, Online Learning, Teacher Preparation Programs

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INTRODUCTION

Online learning is a major emerging issue in education fields, and many higher education programs provide students with online learning (Clary & Wandersee, 2009; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). Since online learning was first introduced for educational purposes, the technology has changed and developed dramatically. For instance, technology has provided learners with more opportunities to interact with instructors and other learners. However, irrespective of these changes, online learning in higher education has not changed in full accordance with the development of technology and the demands of the information society. Specifically, teacher preparation programs (TPPs) for K-12 classrooms generally do not provide student teachers (STs) with their own distinct specialized online programs, so their online experiences do not go beyond online learning in other fields.

Although online learning could overcome the limitations of traditional learning, the online learning approach has produced other problems, such as separation, isolation, and estrangement among members, limited feedback, and lack of responsibility (Lock, 2006). Consequently, blended learning is an important alternative approach for overcoming the limitations of both face-to-face and online learning, because this approach adopts the advantages of both types of learning (Schlager et al., 2002). Blended learning is more effective than face-to-face or online learning in terms of students' satisfaction and faculties' responses (Wingard, 2004), time and place flexibility, ease of using resources, increase of interactions (Lock, 2006), and effectiveness of interaction between peers and instructors (Chamberlain et al., 2005). TPPs have also provided blended learning approaches for their STs. Research also suggests that these approaches are effective for improving STs' discussion skills, developing their communities of practice, and achieving their course purposes (Means et al., 2009).

The blended learning approach is a new area, and the concept is still ill-defined and inappropriately used in many contexts (Oliver & Trigwell, 2005), but the interest in and research on blended learning in the context of higher education have increased and developed respectively. In comparison with research in higher education, empirical study of the blended learning approach in teacher education fields is relatively limited (Wang, 2008). According to Means et al. (2009), a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies conducted from 1996 to 2008 showed that only 10 studies were related to teacher education (10 out of 176) and there was no empirical study about the blended learning approach in TPPs. This data showed that the blended learning approach has been developed and applied in higher education, but research on the teacher education field is limited and needs to investigate the effectiveness of blended learning empirically. Dede (2006) also argued that there is "little known about best practices for the design and implementation of these alternative models for professional enhancement" (p. 2).

We argue that there are some reasons for the small number of studies on the blended learning approach in TPPs. First, not all teacher educators agree that blended or online learning approach is effective in TPPs because of the limitations of technology to improve STs' learning and their field experiences. Having authentic field experiences and developing pedagogical knowledge and practice through classroom activities are considered to be important in TPPs. However, teacher educators seem to believe that face-to-face classroom is more effective in providing these opportunities to their STs which seems to have caused the paucity of research on blended learning in TPPs. Second, even though some TPPs provide a blended learning approach to their STs, it is not easy for researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs because of limitations in the methodology being used.

The success of traditional TPPs is related to successful transition from student to teacher, formation of teacher identity, and development of professional learning. However, these features are not easily observed or examined in the online learning environment. New or different research methods which can examine the effectiveness of a blended learning approach in TPPs are necessary. Third, related to the first issue, some instructors and STs are in transition from the possibility of the blended learning approach to its necessity in TPPs. However, many educators have just suggested possible models --there is need to establish a practical model that teachers can apply in their classrooms.

The goal of this review is to synthesize the literature that has examined blended learning in Teacher Preparation Programs (TPPs). First, we define blended learning in this context and explain an activity system as an analytical framework. Second, we describe our method for choosing the studies in this literature review. Third, we present some findings through the lens of an activity system. Finally, we discuss how the activity system can analyze the effectiveness of blended learning, and provide suggestions for how this literature review could help researchers design and study blended learning in TPPs in the future.

BLENDED LEARNING AND ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK

Blended Learning

Some researchers have defined blended learning as the integration of face-to-face and online learning, focusing on the use of internet-based technologies, such as emphasizing the role of online activities for extending and developing face-to-face learning (Graham, 2006). The Sloan Consortium (Allen et al., 2007) referred to blended instruction as a course that combines online and face-to-face learning, where 3079% of the content is delivered online. Bliuc et al. (2007) argued that: "Blended learning describes learning activities that involve a systematic combination of co-present interaction and technologically-mediated interaction between students, teachers and learning resources" (p. 234).

In this literature review, blended learning includes a course that combines online and face to face (f2f) learning and involves the systematic combination of f2f and technologically-mediated interaction between students, teachers, and learning resources.

Activity System

Activity theory has been used as a theoretical and an analytical framework for examining the design and development of technology-supported courses, human-computer interaction, and online and blended learning communities (Kaptelinin, 1996; Karasavvids, 2009). Kaptelinin (1996) argued that examining students' motives, goals, and the status of their behaviors helps program designers understand and predict changes in students' behavior in various situations, and concluded that activity theory "would enable designers to achieve appropriate design solutions, especially during the early phase of design" (p. 113).

Blin and Munro (2008) expanded Engestrom (2001)'s concept "activity systems" and applied it in the online learning environment. The authors analyzed the components of activity systems in online and face-to-face environments, focusing on how the online learning environment mediates design, teaching, and learning activities as well as the technological layer of the activity. The authors used dialectical activity system which analyzes semiotic and technological context. This dialectical perspective, which integrates two different environments, provides the relationships among two activity systems components in the blended environment. In this literature review, we use the perspective of dialectical activity systems for analyzing the literature on blended learning in teacher education fields.

Research Questions

TPPs are increasingly providing a blended learning approach to their STs because much research shows the advantage of the combined learning approach. Beyond discussing the design and enactment of a blended learning approach, it is important to examine not only empirical research which identified important factors, but also to analyze the relationship between the factors and the effectiveness of the blended learning approach.

This literature review has four research questions to address these issues.

1. What components are emphasized in blended learning approaches in teacher preparation programs in terms of an activity system (subject, object, tools, roles, community, and rules)?

2. What tools contribute to integrating online and face-to-face learning activities in blended approaches?

3. How do communities contribute to integrating online and face-to-face learning activities in blended learning approaches?

4. What are the emerging issues in the effectiveness of blended courses in teacher preparation programs?

Method

A comprehensive literature review was conducted to locate papers on blended learning in teacher education fields using search engines and databases such as ScienceDirect, ProQuest, ERIC (Education Resources Information Centre), and Google Scholar. The keywords used were "blended or hybrid learning", "teacher education", and "preservice or prospective teachers" or "student or intern teachers" (as well as combinations of these). Following this literature search a database including approximately 200 titles was created using Zotero.

This search was further refined by selecting only those papers which (a) specifically focused on blended learning in teacher education, (b) reported the results of empirical research, and (c) are conceptual papers based on blended learning research. Conference papers and dissertations were not included. Special efforts were made to ensure that all relevant papers in peer-reviewed, high impact journals were selected. References from the articles included in the review were examined in order to identify other potentially relevant studies which might have been missed by the initial computerized search. As a result of this process, 42 peer-reviewed studies were selected: 26 empirical studies and 16 opinion or conceptual studies.

RESULTS

This section presents findings from studies that address the research questions above related to the use of blended learning approach in TPPs.

General Findings

There are a few literature reviews on blended learning (Graham et al., 2003; Sharpe et al., 2006; Bliuc et al., 2007), but there are few literature reviews dealing with blended learning in teacher education. As this literature review shows, blended learning in teacher education is still a developing issue, whereas that of higher education has been much developed and investigated. Nevertheless, this review found some general issues related to TPPs. First, TPPs have their own different features compared to other higher education programs, such as providing field experiences, student teaching, and so on. However, this literature review shows that there were no significant differences between how higher education and teacher education use blended learning approaches. Most studies reviewed did not explain the differences between their studies and other studies of a blended learning approach.

Second, only four studies among the papers reviewed dealt with the structurally self-contained blended learning approach, in which has online learning and face-to-face learning instruction occur separately. Most studies examined how online learning, which is considered as extended learning, enhances and improves face-to-face learning. Third, in terms of a methodological perspective, most studies used case study, survey, and/or comparative methods. As Bliuc et al. (2007) mentioned, "This field is relatively new and many researchers are still in exploratory mode" (p. 232). The status quo is more prominent in teacher education fields, there are these needs to investigate the possibility for and differences of using blended learning in teacher education. Among 40 studies, 26 empirical studies which focused on blended learning in TPPs are examined with activity systems.

The following sections talks about the main findings related to the research questions.

What components are emphasized in blended learning in teacher preparation programs in terms of an activity system (subject, object, tools, roles, community, and rules)?

In an activity system, activity is described as a "form of doing directed to an object" (Issroff & Scanlon, 2002, p. 78). The subject refers to an individual or group. Object refers to products acted on by the subject during the activity. Tools refer to instructional theory, learning resources, and online tools that mediate the relationship between subject and object. Community refers to people who share the same goals, rules, and roles. Rules refer to implicit and explicit responsibilities community members should follow. Division of labor refers to subjects' roles. Outcome is not a component of an activity system, but it is the overall intention of an activity system. It refers to the long-term goals of an activity, while object refers to the short term goal.

All subjects were student teachers. Ten studies are at the elementary level and sixteen studies are at the secondary level. Second, object is divided into two types; (1) studies for improving specific skills and knowledge, and (2) studies for examining satisfaction and perception of STs. Table 1 shows the purposes of blended courses. Five studies did not talk about the purposes of blended courses and just examined participants' satisfaction with and perceptions of a blended learning approach. Third, tools are very important in blended learning, especially for integrating face-to-face and online learning. Vygotsky (1978) stressed the role of tools which mediate and control the relationship between subjects and object (goals). Table 2 shows pedagogical and technological tools in studies.

Fourth, regarding community and roles in a blended learning setting, blended learning is a different learning community than face-to-face meetings. Blended learning needs to construct and sustain an online learning community. An online learning community should not only emphasize collaborative work, but also preserve individual learning features, such as their private learning and personal learning styles. In order for an online learning community to be effective, the facilitator's role is important. He/she should facilitate students' participation and learning, and also oversee students' problems during online activities. Instructors cannot do these things by themselves; thus collaboration is more necessary in blended learning. TPPs using blended learning should provide more learning opportunities for educators and STs to collaborate with their peers.

Fifth, rules or professional responsibilities are important in ablended learning environment, but most studies did not talk about the professional responsibilities they should maintain in blended learning, or what the ethical manners between STs should be. This concept is examined in the implication section. Based on Blin and Munro (2008) 's framework, we investigated tools used to improve the integration of online and face-to-face learning. These tools are examined in the following section in more detail.

What tools contribute to integrating online and face-to-face learning activities in a blended course? Factors ... first, tools (technology tools and pedagogical tools) second, community, third

The findings above show that tools are important components in integrating online and face-to-face learning activities in a blended course. Collis and Margaryon (2004) referred to tools as instructional theory, learning resources, learning supports, and online tools and environment in mediating participants' activities. Their review explains how tools are used to integrate face-to-face and online activities focusing on technology and pedagogy.

First, technology tools provide online learning spaces for STs to integrate their learning into learning communities. Online discussion tools, such as chat rooms, Blackboard, Ning, Wiki, and so on, help STs share their experiences (Khine & Lourdusamy, 2003; Lin, 2008; Ajayi, 2009). Khine and Lourdusamy (2003) show that STs got help from not only from peers, but also from the instructor, to solve and clear their problems through online discussion during their teaching practice. Lin (2008) argued that "students felt that online discussion boards were more useful than in-class discussions because student could take the time to compose a response" (p. 56). STs felt connection and active participation through online discussion. Ajayi (2009) also said that discussion boards promote STs' situated learning, social construction of knowledge, and customized learning experiences. They examined STs' discussion boards and concluded that the discussion board "allowed the STs to participate and contribute to discussion of different topics" into a more open community.

Second, technology tools integrate STs' creative ideas into practical skills and practice. Rather than providing ready-made material and web pages, Vesisenaho et al. (2010) argued that instructors help STs create and publish new material by using web pages and social software. They showed that Wiki and mobile technologies enabled STs to actively participate, communicate, and create their own materials. Hixon and So (2009) examined how technology can enhance field experiences in TPPs. They showed that STs integrated their practice skills during field experiences through technology. They further argued that "various technologies may help in supplementing and replacing traditional early field experiences" (p. 295).

Third, technology tools help STs integrate their technology skills into their classrooms. Khine and Lourdusamy (2003) said that multimedia CD-ROMs allow STs to have real and authentic experiences. They argued that the tools "help STs effectively apply the theories and principles of classroom management" into their classrooms (p. 672). Yeh et al. (2010) showed that "collaborative problem-based learning is an effective teaching approach for engaging STs in building an online learning community" (p. 1636). They believe that online learning communities contribute to STs' active participation, knowledge creation, and achievement improvement.

Arnold and Paulus (2010) also showed that STs' sense of community was enhanced by using Ning and how they integrate Ning into their own teaching. Even though "Ning was not always used in the way that the instructor had intended" (p. 194), he argued that STs appropriated technology or reinvented it for their own use. Compton and Davis (2010) used virtual early experience for STs to clarify their many misconceptions, preconceptions, and concerns. Through this virtual experience, the author reported that STs eliminate the misconceptions they had before. However, she was concerned that "too few good models of virtual experience with effective cooperating teachers are available for STS to observe and work with" (p. 323).

However, technology tools are not always supported by instructors and STs. Ryan and Scott (2008) argued that "if technology fails to reach a reasonable level of accessibility and reliability, then ST's perceptions are negatively colored" (p. 1638). In reality, many students were struggling with the use of new technology tools, their necessity, and effectiveness. Barnett et al. (2002) suggested that instructors need to pay attention to how they use technology because STs may "perceive the technological innovation as simply busy work" (p. 310). This shows us that technology cannot itself be the solution of our current education problems.

Fourth, blended learning in this literature review shows not only the combination of online and face-to-face learning, but also the combination of various pedagogical methods. As figure one shows, many researchers combines some methods, such as problem-based learning (Yeh et al., 2010), collaborative learning (Vesisenaho et al., 2010; Yeh, 2010; Turvey, 2010), experiential learning (Arnold & Paulus, 2010; Compton & Davis, 2010; Yaman & Graf, 2010), and so on. Yeh et al. (2010) mixed problem based learning in a blended learning course to improve online learning community. They concluded that "Collaborative problem-based learning is an effective teaching approach for engaging STs in building an online learning community" (p. 1636). Pedagogical tools in blended learning should be used with other multiple strategies, such as collaborative learning, problem-based learning or communities of practice, to produce effective outcomes. Instructors should be aware that current students are the Net generation, which is quite familiar with technologies, and so they should modify technology and pedagogical tools to be successful in blended learning environments.

Tools, whether pedagogical or technological, cannot be used without modifications by instructors and students. The existing research suggests that the effectiveness of technology-supported curricula is more rooted in teachers' creative use of technology, rather than in technology itself (Zhao, 2003). As shown above, blended learning is most effective when teaching and learning are integrated with hands-on technology tools, when online instruction provides a richer environment (Lin, 2008), and when there is balance in face-to-face and online meeting schedules (El-Deghaidy & Nouby, 2008)

How do online learning communities contribute to integrate online and face-to-face learning?

In a blended learning approach, communities are developed into online and face-to-face communities. These two communities mostly consist of the same members, even though their community activities are conducted in different environments. However, this literature review focuses on online learning communities (OLCs) which are groups of people who use computer-mediated communication rather than face-to-face learning communities, because blended learning approach emphasized OLCs' roles in connecting participants' activities.

First, OLCs provide time and place with STs to develop the sense of community (Mouzakis, 2008). This sense of community allows STs to collaborate and discuss their experiences and problems with their colleagues. Yeh et al. (2010) examined the process of OLCs in their study and found that OLCs help STs improve their motivation, socialization, information exchange, and tacit understanding. He argued that "when STs reach the highest level of community, they start to communicate outside of online discussion" (p. 1637). The development of communities leads them to integrate their face-to-face discussion into online discussion. Collopy and Arnold (2009) argued that "online space supported the face-to-face environment by giving STs time to think, process, and have online conversation outside of scheduled class time" (p. 99). This means that OLCs are the extended and flexible learning communities, in which STs can discuss and share their experiences. OLCs also reinforce the relationships among community members by emphasizing ground rules, their roles, sharing, and collaborative learning, which helps STs feel trust, safety, and openness.

Second, OLCs demand the development of new technology tools to communicate with others effectively. Arnold and Paulus (2010) examined the effectiveness of Ning and found that this tool bonds STs and creates better learning communities, which promote the STs' success. Even though STs are accustomed to OLCs, they need more authentic experiences and communication online. Compton and Davis (2010) suggested the necessity of virtual field experience, and Skype, an audio-video conferencing tool, helped STs make communication more natural. Video-based observation illustrates a form of OLCs for observing a variety of teaching strategies and assessment techniques and discussing and sharing content (Hixon & So, 2009).

Third, OLCs provide authentic contexts for STs to bridge theory and practice. Turvey (2010) used a phenomenographic approach to understand how STs develop their professional practice and learning and found that OLCs provide STs the authentic context in which parents, students, and teachers can discuss and connect. This authentic context enabled STs to develop their own professional knowledge. Arnold and Paulus (2010) also argued that authentic and meaning tasks are important for STs, and OLCs make STs' learning contexts authentic.

In addition, instructors should use face-to-face learning communities to motivate and strengthen the connections among participants and reduce the feeling of isolation (Palloff & Pratt, 1999). This literature review also supports this view (Collopy & Arnold, 2009; El-Deghaidy & Nouby, 2008). El-Deghaidy and Nouby (2008) considered combining an initial face-to-face meeting and in early online activities as an important factor for successful blended learning. Collopy and Arnold (2009) emphasized face-to-face meetings because they help "STs feel competent with the content of the course" (p. 96). It should be required that "gentle transition such as constructing face-to-face community before rushing into the OLC (Lin, 2008, p. 57)." The importance and functions of OLCs have been examined and reported in higher education fields, and the results of this literature review shows what TPPs have in common with them. Even though other higher education programs need ongoing learning and support, teachers in TPPs are even more required to update and develop their ongoing learning.

What are the emerging issues in using blended courses in teacher preparation programs?

In an activity system, tools and communities have been emphasized, rather than roles and rules. Many educators have been interested in how to use tools effectively and how to construct learning communities for their participants, but research on the roles of students and instructors, and the rules they follow, is comparatively low. From this literature review, the instructor's roles were: Encourage or support students' discussion, participation; Facilitate discussion or activities; Manage online and face-to-face activities; Give feedback; Mentor; and Evaluator. The students' roles were: Participate actively online discussion (post their educational experiences and respond to others); Produce of content; and Give feedback

This review's finding is similar to other educators' results. Goodyear et al. (2001) described key roles of the instructor in online course: content facilitator, technologist, designer, manage/administrator, adviser, assessor, and researcher. However, this review shows that many students are still in passive roles. Even though much research talked about students' need to post, give feedback, and complete projects, their roles are still limited. By contrast, Vesisenaho et al. (2010) argued that "social software allows students to actively participate, communicate, and create their own materials" (p. 274). He emphasized students' role as the producer of content because students have their own abilities to create and produce with new technologies. He introduced "blended learning 2.0" and emphasized flexible ways to create and support learning. This is required to construct and use available and reliable evaluation tools and criteria.

Second, in an activity system, rules refer to formal and informal norms of behavior (Collis & Margaryon, 2004), or explicit and implicit regulations which constrain people's actions and interactions. Tsai et al. (2010) defined rules as "etiquette and expectations for how one should behave within this community and context" (p. 1201). The common formal behaviors STs should follow, in this review, are 1) submit at least one posting and respond to one comment, 2) participate actively and consistently, and 3) respect other people's ideas and opinions. Even though rules are important factors for STs to be able to maintain online learning communities and activities in blended learning, most researchers did not emphasize this issue.

As activities have increased in online environments, some researchers have stressed the importance of etiquette online (Preece, 2004; Hobbs, 2009; Tsai et al., 2010). Preece (2004) stated that "norms that lead to good online etiquette, empathy and trust between community members provide stepping-stones for social capital development" (p. 294). She argued that if participants do not keep the rules, these could be the weakness of social-ability and destruction of the community of practice. She believes that online rules should be learned through experience in an online learning community.

Hobbs (2009) argued that "netiquette, which is etiquette in online environment, beliefs can influence participation, trust and learning online" (p. 2). He believes that netiquette is important in online learning environments and this skill should be taught explicitly for encouraging involvement, maintaining group values, and providing guidance for participants. He concluded that "our ability to netiquette savvy is a critical component of becoming understanding participants in order to develop meaningful relationships to sustain these online networks" (p. 8). Making the online learning environment, as well as the face-to-face learning environment, a reliable, safe, and respectful place is very important for successful blended learning. Conrad (2002) emphasized five explicit behaviors for building successful OLCs: presence, prepared and relevant postings, awareness, respectful behavior and compassion, and tolerance. In the blended learning environment, educators should clearly notice the rules STs keep in both the online and the face-to-face learning environments.

Implications

There are four important implications for future research on blended learning in TPPs. First, this review shows that even though TPPs are different from other programs in higher education, the methods or approaches used are not different from those of the higher education programs. TPP designers should acknowledge that online learning environments are different from face-to-face classrooms in teacher education fields; they have used traditional learning theories because they did not have unique conceptual frameworks for online learning. In virtual settings, social interaction, scaffolding, peer collaboration, and learning experiences are different, and program designers should provide these concepts to teachers differently. Blended learning is not just adding face-to-face learning activities to online learning. Blended learning in TPPs should challenge and engage online learning activities to complement face-to-face activities in ways that are different from those of other higher education programs. Program designers need to modify these concepts and integrate traditional conceptual frameworks into online activities for building effective frameworks for their student teachers.

Second, most studies have been conducted as case studies, survey-studies, and comparative studies. Yin (2003) argued that "a case study investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context" (p. 13). Even though the case study has this advantage, this field still needs other research methods. Blended learning is a new area and it still does not have a rigorous conceptual framework. The activity systems framework used in this paper can be used as an analytical or conceptual framework to examine the effectiveness of blended learning and to design blended courses. The activity systems framework shows what components should be included and how they relate to other components. Dialectic activity systems can recognize two different activity systems: semiotic and technological systems, and can extend the concept to online and face-to-face systems.

Based on the literature review, when blended learning uses other pedagogical methods such as problem-based learning, community of inquiry, and so on, its effectiveness can be magnified. Therefore, teacher educators need to integrate online activities and face-to-face activities. Program designers should connect online learning with face-to-face learning or with fieldwork in TPPs. Collaborative learning, project based methods, and problem-based learning could be main activities in blended learning because these methods ask students to participate and solve problems together. These features could reduce STs' isolation, the confusion of curriculum, and free-riding on the learning of others.

Third, there is an increasing need to examine how blended courses can be utilized in traditional pre-service education programs to support the learning needs of students and meet the growing curricular needs of universities (Collopy & Arnold, 2009, p. 88). However, there is still a gap between "how teachers are expected to use technology and how they are actually using it" (Molebash, 2004, p. 412). Even though there interests and needs to study and provide practical methods teachers can use in blended learning environments, more empirical research is needed to examine the effectiveness of blended learning in TPPs. This issue is related to practical research design to evaluate program effectiveness. Some research has used case studies, survey methods, and interviews to examine the effectiveness of blended learning. These methods have shown participants' satisfactions, perceptions, and students' achievement, but do not clearly explain the relationships among the many factors in blended learning. When more empirical frameworks and qualitative methods are used together, educators and STs in TPPs can better use the data and research findings.

Fourth, rules in the online environment are another big issue. There are many new negative words related to online learning, for example, cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, or cyber-harassment. Even though these problems are not mentioned in this literature review, STs will face these issues when they go into their own classrooms. Smith, Clark, and Blomeyer (2005) argued that "many teachers currently teaching in online environments lack both the theoretical and practical understandings and are learning on the job" (p. 59). STs need more experiences in blended learning environments and also in online etiquette and about cyber-bullying issues.

In conclusion, this literature review investigated empirical studies on the uses of blended learning in TPPs. The authors examined the concept and design of blended learning in TPPs. This review found that an activity systems framework is very useful to examine the effectiveness of blended learning because the framework explains what components should be included and examined by research. This review also provides direction for future research as well as some guideline for the nature of blended learning in TPPs for future study.

DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2012040107

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Jared Keengwe is an Associate Professor of Education at the University of North Dakota (UND). Dr. Keengwe'sprimary areas of research and writing include: Constructivist (Leaner-Centered) Pedagogy, Computer Technology Integration in Teacher Education, Cultural Diversity and Instructional Technology Professional Development Models in Teacher Education. His current research examines Professional Development Best Practices in Online Learning Environments. Dr. Keengwe has served as a research mentor for more than 30 undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Keengwe's research has resulted in more than 85 publications in refereed journals and conference proceedings. He is the co-editor of Adult Learning in the Digital Age: Perspectives on Online Technologies and Outcomes--a premier reference source for computer science and information technology management. In 2010, he was recognized for his scholarly contributions to the University of North Dakota (recipient of North Dakota Spirit Faculty Achievement Award). In 2011, he received the 2011 UND Foundation/McDermott Faculty Award for Excellence in Academic Advising.

Jung-Jin Kang is a Phd student in Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education at Michigan State University. His research interests include: Educational technology tools within online education, student teachers' identity, practices, and interactions within online/blended classrooms, and online/blended professional learning communities. He is actively involved in technology-rich curriculum projects and also works as a field instructor for student teachers.

Table 1. The purposes of blended courses

Research focus    Content

Improvement       Develop teaching and classroom management (1)
(21)
                  Online learning communities (2)

                  Collaborative learning (3)

                  Instructional principles of material development (1)

                  Technology skills (2), technology integration(3)

                  Critical reflection (2), professional knowledge (2),
                  critical literacy (1)

                  Experiential learning (3), situated knowledge (1)

Examination (5)   Satisfaction (3), perceptions (2)

Table 2. Pedagogical and technological tools in studies

Semiotic tools (pedagogical tools)   Technological tools

Cooperative learning (5)             Multimedia CD-ROM (1)
Constructive theory (1)              Blackboard (2)
Interaction (2)                      Web-based model/site (3)
Problem-based learning (2)           Wiki (2)
Authentic learning experience (3)    Online lecture (1)
Universal design (1)                 Online discussion/chat (10)
Knowledge management model (1)       Ning (1)
Situated learning (1)                Interactive white board (1)
Not clear (10)                       Not clear (5)

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A294896331