Repository logo

Narratives of teacher learning in adopting a blended approach in a tertiary institution.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The inclusion of technology has led to policy directives at tertiary institutions that impact the way in which teaching, and learning takes place. The focus of this study was on the ways in which lecturers learn to use new technological tools, and on the factors enhancing or hindering this learning. The conceptual frameworks adopted in this study were Opfer and Pedder’s (2011) complexity theory which was used to analyse teacher learning, and Garrison and Vaughan’s (2008) community of inquiry framework which analysed the factors affecting learning. This study constructed narratives of teacher learning in adopting a blended approach at a private tertiary institution. It was located within the interpretative paradigm and a qualitative narrative approach was adopted. Critical incidents, concept maps and semi-structured interviews were used to construct the narratives. Five participants, who were lecturers at the tertiary institute, were individually interviewed. The findings from applying Opfer and Pedder’s (2011) complexity theory show that learning occurs because of a dissonance between personal expectations and efficacy with technology. There is a nested complexity of learning as knowledge, experience and beliefs which impact each individual and their dissonance. An analysis of the knowledge needed for a blended approach identified a new Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) as an essential component in learning to adopt a blended approach. Students and their knowledge, experience and beliefs were also identified as impacting teacher learning. This was an element not explored by Opfer and Pedder (2011). Garrison and Vaughan’s (2008) community of inquiry identified factors that enhance or hinder teacher learning. The factors that enhance learning were identified as follows: the application of new ideas; the exchange of ideas; and the ability of students to connect ideas in the online space. The social element of encouraging collaboration, and expressing emotions and camaraderie were also motivating factors. However, the hinderances were similarly found within these indicators and were linked to the students’ lack of technological knowledge and reluctance to engage on the online platform. A lack of technical support, the large volume of information on the learning management platforms, vague instructions and difficulty in navigating the platform were also indicated as hinderances to learning by the participants. The time taken to assimilate new technology, technical issues, costs and expectations of self were other factors influencing the learning process of lecturers adopting a blended approach. It is therefore important that tertiary institutions take cognisance of how best to train and support lecturers in the use of technology for enhanced teaching and learning. The starting point will have to be an exact definition of a blended approach that is ‘fit for purpose’.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.