The sustainability of technology integration in English for academic purposes (EAP) programs
AuthorNicholas Palikat, Cynthia
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-09-30. This item is currently available to University of Melbourne staff and students only, login required.
© 2019 Cynthia Nicholas Palikat
Blended approaches to teaching and learning in academic English programs often demand the provision of substantial investments in professional development, curriculum change and technological resources. Given the intense effort required for successful language programs, focus has turned increasingly on the sustainability of blended learning in higher education. However, despite its long history (Schmandt, 2010), and application in multiple contexts (Stepanyan & Littlejohn, 2013), as recent studies show (see Bennett, Lockyer, & Agostinho, 2018; Niederhauser et al., 2018), sustainability is yet to be fully understood, particularly in the field of applied linguistics (Blin, Jalkanen, & Taalas, 2016). Further, little research to date has focused on interrogating sustainability frameworks in the context of higher education (Gruba, Cardenas-Claros, Suvorov, & Rick, 2016). The aim of this thesis, then, is to investigate the sustainability of technology integration in the context of language programs. To achieve this aim, I undertook an 18-month longitudinal study of a blended EAP (English for Academic Purposes) language program situated within a university pathways course. Grounded in participatory action research (Patton, 2015; Somekh, 2006) with an ethnographic orientation, the data collection techniques employed in this study draw on observations, interviews, document analysis, and personal reflections. Framed by the model of sustainable blended learning (Blin et al., 2016) and the argument based approach (Gruba et al., 2016), this participatory action research investigated three case studies representing conceptualisations of technology as they emerged from the site. In line with qualitative approaches, each of the three case studies presents a view of technology through the metaphors of device, system and application respectively. Results of the study point to the socio-cultural complexities of blended language programs and the importance of attending to concerns of pedagogy rather than technology for sustainable blended learning approaches. Importantly, the study findings also highlight the need for a proper understanding of program context in the implementation of technology related initiatives. Implications of the study propose that change management concepts be applied to better introduce, implement and most importantly, sustain change involving educational technology integration. From a pedagogical perspective, sustainability is dependent on pedagogically motivated decision making, investment of time for proper curriculum development, and promoting opportunities for collaboration, particularly amongst teachers. As for professional development, the study postulates that pedagogical and professional development initiatives need to be ongoing and targeted to the needs of the curriculum. Based on the outcomes of this study, it is hoped that this thesis will contribute to a better understanding of the factors that influence the sustainability of educational technology innovations through an in-depth study of language programs in blended contexts.
Keywordssustainability; technology integration; blended learning; blended language learning
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