Technology Learning for the Disadvantaged: Literature Review

Subject: Education
Pages: 5
Words: 1379
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD

Introduction

In the wake of modern knowledge societies, various studies have revealed that disadvantaged students who receive inadequate education fail to secure competitive jobs as compared to their counterparts who acquire adequate skills from work-based learning. Such students end up in unskilled labor that earns them insufficient remunerations to fund their everyday activities. However, other researchers have revealed that the underprivileged students can join the labor market favorably upon proper training. In such manner, they can use the acquired skills to fetch substantial wages. Undoubtedly, this situation renders the use of traditional instruction irrelevant in the twenty-first century that is characterized by significant technological advances. Integration of novelty with classroom teaching and learning increases chances of producing competent students who can join the labor market successfully. This strategy will eliminate the idea of dependency on public assistance that is witnessed among unskilled workers. Recently, the US National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revealed that about 30-percent of the fourth-grade students who enrolled in public schools between 2003 and 2004 failed to achieve the appropriate literacy levels. Nevertheless, hybrid learning can overcome such academic deficits. Indeed, rural schools in the USA integrate traditional learning with online courses to avert problems that pertain to teacher retention, geographic isolation, low student enrollment, and financial constraints (Fong, 2008). This literature review seeks to investigate whether hybrid learning can boost student enrollment in schools by scaling the programs to increase the number of skills that can be taught with a view of improving the employability rate.

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Ineffectiveness of Traditional Learning Programs

Students of the twenty-first century find traditional classroom learning increasingly difficult. Evidence shows that between 30 and 50 percent of the students who started postsecondary education in community colleges dropped out before the end of the curriculum (Kelly-Reid & Ginder, 2012). Retention of students in classrooms has become a crucial challenge, especially in higher learning institutions due to responsibilities that characterize the youth at the college level (Barker & Wendel, 2001). Some of the commitments that force students to leave school prematurely include full-time jobs and family duties. These phenomenon results in reduced employability rate (Safar, 2011). Students who fail to complete higher learning hardly secure skilled jobs since they do not possess adequate expertise that is required in the workplace. Therefore, they end up in unskilled labor that earns them insufficient income (Barker & Wendel, 2001).

Hybrid (Blended) Learning

Hybrid learning can be defined as a seamless amalgamation of traditional face-to-face interaction that is augmented by carefully considered modules of online learning (Francis & Shannon, 2013). It is also referred to as blended learning. It involves various steps that aim at improving traditional instructional methods without replacing them, as they form a core foundation in the curricula setting. The outmoded instruction methods have been criticized variously for failing to achieve quality and efficient output standards. Schools have been producing incompetent candidates who cannot fit in the job market appropriately. Over the past decade, a significant volume of research on the effective use and integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into education practices has been observed (Radcliffe & Bos, 2013). Innovation in schools has significantly improved flexibility of the learning process with respect to time and place. This shift of control has influenced the learning process positively (Barbour, 2005). Contextually, socio-cultural theories considerably affect the learning procedures by reinforcing the perceptions of the communities towards the adoption of open and distance learning (ODL) systems in educational processes (Mumford, 2010).

Hybrid Learning Improves Motivation and Enrollment

Motivation is deemed a critical condition for productive learning. It influences the attainment and manifestation of higher-order thinking skills (Bekele, 2010; Kruger & Kearney, 2006). Various studies have revealed that instructional processes that integrate e-learning into the traditional educational processes correlate with low school dropout rate as students are highly motivated and satisfied. Motivation leads to improved student achievement and sustainable enrollment (Bekele, 2010). In a case study that was conducted in an engineering school, the instructors attested that blended learning results in full motivation amongst students. The survey also revealed a consistent class attendance in the school. In addition, the students demonstrated a high degree of participation. However, Bekele (2010) confirms that the students who disregarded online learning performed poorly in tests as compared to those who integrated traditional methods with web-based learning. Numerous studies have shown that integrating web-based learning into school curriculums opens up the students thinking about the requirements of the job market. Blended learning also improves student engagement in the instructional environment (Francis & Shannon, 2013).

Hybrid Learning accelerates Scalability

The aforementioned mode of learning is a solution to a myriad of problems that face traditional learning models. First, desolate budgets cannot sustain the expensive instructional methods that are utilized in schools (Heather, 2011). This situation leaves out some students due to insufficient coverage of the syllabus and incomplete implantation of the curricula programs owing to inadequate school budget (Heather, 2011). Adoption of blended learning can serve as an alternative to schools with small budgets since students can access learning materials online. Therefore, teachers have an option of teaching concepts that require intensive coverage and personalized instructional methods (Haihong & Driscoll, 2013). Secondly, the looming teacher shortages continue to pose an enormous challenge to schools. This situation is driving schools to find cost cutting and creative staffing alternatives (Washburn, 2006). Schools that have implemented hybrid learning have incurred less cost in management of the instructional processes (Marcoux, 2011). Educators have acknowledged the unique abilities of blended learning because it provides students with enriched educational experiences (Vinz, Sandra, & Micheline, 2006). Furthermore, it supports more differentiated learning strategies that personalize educational experiences (Safar & Alkhezzi, 2013). As a result, schools have adopted hybrid learning in their programs. This situation shows that teachers have found hybrid learning more efficient in improving student performance. In addition, the emergence of new internet sites such as GreatSchools.com and SchoolDigger.com among others has made comparison of learning institutions transparent (Lane, 2006). Hybrid learning saves time while increasing the influence of the teacher on the students. However, some scholars disagree with this statement by advancing that e-learning tends to shift the perceptions of students towards their teachers (Allen & Seaman, 2008). They feel that teachers hold no purpose as long as learning materials are available online (Ehrenreich, 2011). This criticism has been challenged by the fact that hybrid learning integrates traditional learning models with the online-based instruction. Nonetheless, the benefits outdo such perceptions. Passionate students have also shown improved results (Allen & Seaman, 2008; Hammond, 2005).

Correlation between Hybrid Learning and Employability Rate

There has been a significant concern regarding career readiness among adolescents in the twenty-first century where employment is dependent on the skills that are acquired through education (Rich & Beth, 2013). Presently, dropouts are likely to face unemployment, poverty, ill health, incarceration, and increased dependency on social services (Littlejohn, Beetham, & McGill, 2012). According to Fong (2008), the use of hybrid learning promotes career preparedness. For instance, internet-based academic research exposes learners to the work environment. This phenomenon encourages the learners to stay focused on attaining diverse employment skills (Mooney & Knox, 2013).

Conclusion

The above literature reveals that blended learning has positive effects on student performance and career preparedness. It improves student motivation and engagement in education. This situation improves their comprehension levels and acquisition of the desired educational and career skills. In addition, the accrued motivation reduces cases of dropouts and absenteeism since students tend to avoid missing the technology driven programs. Furthermore, hybrid learning helps schools facing narrow budgets to cut costs on facilities and instructors while ensuring a high degree of flexibility since students can access learning instructions online. The availability of course materials improves student achievement since students can seek clarification of concepts that are not covered adequately by the internet. However, some researchers disapprove the idea of online learning as it alienates the teacher. The importance of the teacher is lessened because learning materials are available online. Nevertheless, such criticism has been overcome by the numerous benefits that go together with hybrid learning. Therefore, contemporary learning institutions should readily embrace newer methods of instruction with a view of improving the overall performance of students. This situation will lead to generation of students who are prepared adequately for the labor market.

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Reference

Allen, I., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the Course, Online Education in the United States. Web.

Barbour, M. (2005). The Design of Web-based Courses for Secondary Students. Journal of Distance Learning, 9(1), 27-36.

Barker, K., & Wendel, T. (2001). E-learning: Studying Canada’s virtual secondary schools. Kelowna, BC: Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education.

Bekele, T. (2010). Motivation and Satisfaction in Internet-Supported Learning Environments. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 13(2), 116-127.

Ehrenreich, B. (2011). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. New York, NY: Picador.

Fong, J. (2008). Hybrid learning and education First International Conference, ICHL 2008 Hong Kong, China: Proceedings. Berlin, GE: Springer.

Francis, R., & Shannon, S. (2013). Engaging with blended learning to improve students’ learning outcomes. European Journal of Engineering Education, 38(4), 359-69.

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Haihong, H., & Driscoll, M. (2013). Self-Regulation in e-Learning Environments: A Remedy for Community College. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(4), 171-184.

Hammond, L. (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Heather, S. (2011). The Rise of K–12 Blended Learning: Profiles of emerging models. Retrieved from files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535181.pdf

Kruger, H., & Kearney, W. (2006). A Prototype for assessing information security awareness. Computers & Security, 25(4), 289-96.

Lane, M. (2006). Trends in poverty and welfare alleviation issues. New York, NY: Nova Science.

Littlejohn, A., Beetham, H., & Mcgill, L. (2012). Learning at the digital frontier: a review of digital literacies in theory and practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(6), 47-556.

Marcoux, E. (2011). Encourage Buy-in Using Technology for Learning. Teacher Librarian, 38(4), 69-70.

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Mooney, L., & Knox, D. (2013). Understanding social problems. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Mumford, J. (2010). Understanding work-based learning. Surrey, GB: Gower Pub.

Radcliffe, R., & Bos, B. (2013). Strategies to prepare middle school and high school students for college and career readiness. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 86(4), 136-141.

Safar, A., & Alkhezzi, F. (2013). Beyond Computer Literacy: Technology Integration And Curriculum Transformation. College Student Journal, 47(4), 614-26.

Vinz, K., Sandra, H., & Micheline, M. (2006). Technology-Based Learning Strategies. Web.

Washburn, J. (2006). University Inc. the corporate corruption of higher education. New York, NY: Basic Books.