Catering for learners’ diverse needs through blended learning

Kam Cheong Li
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

For effectivene learning, it is important for study programmes to cater for the needs of students. One key to catering for learner diversity is the provision of learning flexibility that allows learners to go about their learning in their preferred ways. Blended learning can integrate this flexibility into study programmes, with choices being made available as a means through which the learning of individual concepts or skills can be achieved. Such options bring flexibility in learning and facilitate control, and allow learners to learn in different ways and have their varied needs satisfied.

This paper reports a study that surveyed 115 students from four blended learning courses. Two of the courses were on management, and put an emphasis on qualitative conceptualization; and the other two, on accounting, laid stress on quantitative operations. Each of the courses allowed students to learn in diverse ways by providing a variety of means of learning. The survey gauges the effectiveness of these means in relation to the qualitative and quantitative orientations of the course content, and explores the relationship between flexibility and blended learning. The study results suggest that the means adopted in the courses are considered useful for learning purposes and that the blended learning mode facilitates learning flexibility. No significant difference was observed regarding the perceived effectiveness of components between the two types of courses (with quantitative and qualitative orientations), which suggests that the blended learning approach can be equally effective in both types of courses. The perceived flexibility was significantly positively correlated with the effectiveness of components and the ease of use of the online learning platform. This study therefore suggests that the blended learning approach can effectively facilitate students’ learning in both qualitative and quantitative courses and the provision of an effective blended learning approach facilitates students’ learning flexibility, which better addresses learner diversity.