Blended Learning and Tuition in Religious Studies: An Open University Perspective

Sinclair, Stefanie (2011). Blended Learning and Tuition in Religious Studies: An Open University Perspective. Discourse, 10(3)



This article explores issues that need to be taken into consideration when different forms of tuition (including online, face-to-face and telephone) are ‘blended’ within higher education. It focuses on the significant challenges and benefits of blended tuition approaches. Issues are explored that are specific to higher education and to the discipline of Religious Studies in particular. The growth of online resources available within the field is highlighted as well as the need to find diverse, effective and creative ways to support students in the development of their information literacy skills.Reflecting on her involvement in the production, presentation, delivery and management of a range of Religious Studies modules at the Open University, the author explores what lessons can be learned from the Open University’s experience of the development of blended tuition models. These insights are related to recent theoretical literature on blended learning and tuition (for example: Ellis and Goodyear, 2010; Vaughan, 2010; Garrison and Vaughan, 2008). The article highlights how important it is to avoid simply ‘bolting on’ new technologies without a consistent and coherent approach to their integration with other forms of tuition. It concludes that it is important to not utilise technology ‘just because it’s there’, but to maintain a focus on what it is used for. It highlights the need for continual work on the development of pedagogical approaches in order to creatively and effectively accommodate the challenges and opportunities new teaching technologies present to higher education and to the field of Religious Studies in particular.

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