Project introduction and background information
In preparing for education in the post-COVID-19 era, blended learning (BL), has attracted renewed interest among universities. Despite teachers' sincere intentions to further advance BL post-pandemic, maintaining social engagement with students while motivating them to actively participate in learning are significant challenges for teachers working in a BL environment. Poor social interactions between students and teachers establish barriers against the quality of BL.
These issues prove that learning is social in nature and knowledge cannot be constructed in isolation. To alleviate feelings of loneliness among students, and increase their learning outcomes, previous studies attempted to explore the potential of a learning community for BL. Strong community levels in a BL environment are associated with teacher-facilitated activities, which need to be carefully designed by teachers to explicitly integrate community components into the teaching and learning process. This process demands teachers to adapt their roles to develop new pedagogical knowledge and teaching practices in a blended environment, where and when appropriate. Teachers need support to develop competencies and skills that many don’t have yet.
Objective and expected outcomes
The present study aims to develop a professional development intervention preparing university teachers to cultivate a learning community in a blended environment. The findings of this study aim to make the following contributions: first, it will fill a gap in the literature by enhancing our understanding of the teacher’s role in a blended learning community. Second, this study will develop a professional development intervention to prepare teachers in adapting their roles in this transformative educational process. Finally, the impact of COVID-19 will extend well beyond tackling the current crisis. We hope this study can support HEIs in preparing and reshaping universities for the post-pandemic era.