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Benefits and challenges of implementing the Narratives in TEFL course in a blended learning mode

As the Narratives in TEFL course was piloted in its blended form in the autumn semester of 2014-2015, at the point of writing this document we have certain insights into some of the advantages and challenges a blended learning model of this, as well as similar courses might present in the future.

The advantages of running this course in a blended learning mode appeared to be the following:

  • Students got easy access to learning and teaching materials, which they could all find on co-space.

  • As all the participants were required to regularly post comments related to their readings and to one another's opinions about the assigned readings, they, paradoxically, contributed more to the course than they usually do during the usual five face-to-face sessions that correspondance students have scheduled in their timetables during the semester. This way, more reserved members, who may have been silent or rather withdrawn during class, made essential contributions to the classwork.

  • Admittedly, students had the chance to express their personal views and original insights in a stress-free and relaxed context;

  • Students' written comments and the research projects they handed in as requirements for the course prove that participants gained a profound understanding of the subject matter. This can be also attributed to the facts that (1) during the blended learning course reading and projects could be completed at students' own pace, as well as to the fact that (2) assistance was provided with difficult concepts within the frame of face-to-face sessions;

  • It is hoped that by attending the Narratives in TEFL course in a blended learning mode, also contributed to enhancing participants' methodological repertoire, as the tasks and processes involved provided them with concrete examples of how to develop autonomous learning strategies and cooperation with their own students, in their own classrooms. The research papers handed in for the course show that participants have learned to construct similar tasks and to apply similar techniques themselves, taking in consideration their own teaching contexts and their learners' needs and wants.

  • Finally, as participants were encouraged to reflect on their own learning experiences on a regular basis, the course has helped participants integrate theoretical insights with their daily practice, and it has helped raise their awareness of why they do what they do in their classes