blended learning environments in arab universities : probing current status and projecting future directions

This paper is a review of blended learning as a catalyst of optimizing the achievement of learning objectives. Blended learning forms an attempt to apply the right learning technologies to match the right personal learning styles to transfer the right skills to the right persons at the right times. The paper is about rethinking the teaching and learning processes through reconsidering the traditional concepts of university pedagogy, student attendance patterns and methods of learning. The paper uses three questionnaires to examine the environment of educational practices at Philadelphia University-Jordan as a model of Arab universities. It outlines the pros and cons of new technological devices currently used, or are projected to be used within the coming five years from the point of view of a stratified random sample of around (42%) of the faculty at Philadelphia University. It demarcates the challenges and risks waiting ahead from using such devices, and tries to describe some future directions in the field of blended learning. The paper also delineates the structure-map of a model of the teaching process of an e-learning module. Responses to the questionnaires indicate that online courses, social networks and text messaging notification will certainly be in use in university pedagogy within five years, while mashups and sensor networks have meager opportunity to prevail. Results show that the semester university system is expected to become obsolete due to the varied lengths of modules, and that university requirements will vary. Feasibility of tailoring programs according to student preferences has low opportunity of adoption. The responses indicate a high risk of students graduating without obtaining the basic knowledge of certain subjects due to easy access to information and research. Results also reveal an increased possibility of plagiarism, and that there is no expected increase in students engaging in unacceptable behavior towards faculty as a result of using new technological devices. The paper concludes that Arab universities are still lagging in adopting blended learning due to the inadequacy of organizational readiness, unqualified faculty, high cost of module production, and the unavailability of the infrastructure needed especially in rural areas. Collaborative work among universities seems essential to achieve positive change in the modes of education based on interactivity. Recommendations at university and governmental levels are highlighted to promote the implementation of blended learning at Arab universities. (As provided)