My research focus has settled on construction education and curriculum development. Specifically, I am interested in how eLearning can assist teachers to create a blended learning environment that serves the needs of both students and teachers. An excerpt from a recent piece I wrote is pasted below to elaborate this point.
Human educators, especially those of demonstrable quality, are expensive and getting more expensive over time even though they already account for the greatest cost in higher education (Neuman 2017). Meanwhile, over the past two decades, state and local financial support for higher education has been in a precipitous decline. (Neuman 2017; Picciano et al. 2010) Reactively, publicly-funded research universities have prioritized hiring professors with a strong record of winning grant money over those with a strong record of quality teaching. (Picciano et al. 2010) This, by necessity, transfers large portions of the teaching responsibilities to the unproven academic echelon of graduate students and teaching assistants (Picciano et al. 2010). This all points to the increasingly urgent need for a disruptive innovation that can share the load of teaching while maintain a high level of quality in a cost-sensitive environment.
Distance education, the progenitor of eLearning, has been routinely proposed and tried as a hopeful solution to solve higher education’s problems with cost and quality. However, it could not reach a tipping point until it debuted electronically and threatened disruption as it has lately (Ruiz et al. 2006). Disruption-caliber eLearning is defined as student-centric, technology-assisted learning that supports and supplements traditional teaching (Christensen 2017). Noticeably, this definition was derived, in part, by mixing elements of blended learning, flipped classrooms and traditional face-to-face instruction. Specifically, the istinguishing features of this eLearning model are the internet-based learning instruments that provide enhanced content delivery methods (Wilcox et al. 2016). Notably, these online teaching instruments are not capable of replacing teachers; evidence shows that teachers remain an essential piece of the learning process (Wilcox et al. 2016; Christensen 2017). Theoretically, the advent of eLearning will free teachers from the time-consuming burden of transactional content diffusion that is best left to machinery. In response, this will allow them to focus more of their time and talents on customizing learning experiences through personal interactions with students (Wilcox et al. 2016; Christensen 2017). Not only will the increase in teacher-student interaction improve the learning experience, but the technology itself plays a role in improving educational quality (Wilcox et al. 2016; Christensen 2017; Ruiz et al. 2006). Increasingly, scholarship is uncovering the link between institutions of higher education that integrate elements of eLearning into their curricula and resulting improvements in terms of quality (Wilcox et al. 2016). Furthermore, research shows that applied disciplines in higher education, like
construction management, are particularly receptive to the format of eLearning (Ke 2015). One reason for this is that learners of applied disciplines have more real-world perspectives and experiences that promote after-class, online discussions than those from pure disciplines (Ke 2013). Therefore, to the extent that quality in higher education is restored through eLearning methods, construction
management departments are favorably predisposed to the ensuing benefits of satisfying economic demands. This disposition to eLearning, in turn, positions construction academia and industry alike to take greater advantage of the accompanying benefits of improved educational quality that will result
from higher education reform.
Christensen, Clayton M. (2017). “Disrupting class : how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns.” New York: McGraw-Hill, 38-39.
Ke, F. (2013). “Online interaction arrangements on quality of online interactions performed by diverse learners across disciplines.” The Internet and Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.07.003 (March 11, 2019).
Neuman, R. W. (2017). “Charting the Future of US Higher Education: A Look at the Spellings Report Ten Years Later. Association of American Colleges & Universities.” Association of American Colleges & Universities , https://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/2017/winter/neuman (March 11, 2019).
Picciano, A. G., Seaman, J., & Allen, I. E. (2010). “Educational Transformation through Online Learning: To Be or Not to Be. Online Learning.” T he Official Journal of Online Learning , https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v14i4.147 (March 11, 2019).
Ruiz, J. G., Mintzer, M. J., & Leipzig, R. M. (2006). “The Impact of E-Learning in Medical Education.” Academic Medicine , https://doi.org/10.1097/00001888-200603000-00002 (March 13, 2019).
Willcox, Karen E; Sarma, Sanjay; Lippel, Philip (2016). “Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms. Online Education Policy Initiative.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Online Education Policy Initiative, https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/103912/MIT%20Online%20Education%20Poli cy%20Initiative%20April%202016_0.pdf?sequence=1 (March 11, 2019).