“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates
Blended learning, a new approach in educational planning, is defined as an applying more than one method, strategy, technique or media in education. Today’s, due to the development of infrastructure of Internet networks and the access of most of the students, the Internet can be utilized along with traditional and conventional methods of training. Training is known as an agent of change and progress in human. Improvement of educational quality has been considered in medical fields, and its importance is growing gradually. The blended revolution that has empowered students in developing nations is just now spreading to developing countries with improved internet access; students have opportunities to experience blended and mobile learning. Blended and mobile learning can assist countries with increased educational access and online providers opportunities to reach new international markets. Technology has furled the distance – learning environment from correspondence courses, to radio and TV to videoconferencing, to online and now to blended and mobile learning.
Blended learning is an interactive, student-centered approach that integrates engaging online content with the best features of classroom interaction. This approach also personalizes student learning and includes several forms of assessment for students and instructor. Several definitions of blended learning were proposed by several researchers. It should be noted that there are other names being used for blended learning such as hybrid learning, integrated learning, multi-method learning, or mixed method learning (Node, 2001).
Al-Zoubi and Bani- Doumi (2013) summarized the factors which contribute to the success of blended learning as follows:
• Communicating and guidance: the learner in this method doesn’t know when will he need help, and the equipment, tools and applications needed in order to examine his skills, so, blended learning ought to incorporate instructions concerning the behaviors, activities and expectations, as well as methods for diagnosis and tasks recommended for the learner and written and well specified roles.
• Collective work: in blended learning, every individual ought to be persuaded that participation of all students as a team, in which each member has specific roles, is important.
• Encouraging innovative work: blended learning encourages self-learning and group learning, because the technological means available in blended learning makes this possible, through class interactions which encourage innovation and improves work.
• Flexible choices: blended learning enables students to access information and answer questions regardless of time and place, and the previous learning of the student. Thus, blended learning should incorporate several flexible choices which enable students to find those suitable to their preferences.
• Participation of the students in choosing the suitable blend: the teacher ought to assist his students in choosing the suitable blend (online learning, individual work, traditional lecturing, reading printed materials, e-mail). The teacher motivates students as well, and ensures that they choose activities suitable for the achievement of mastery and maximum efficiency.
• Continuous communication: a quick means of communication should be available for both learners and instructors for guidance all the time, and network communication among students should be available for the purposes of sharing information, solving problems and sharing applications.
• Repetition: repetition is one of the most important features of blended learning, and one of the factors which contribute to its success, because it enables learners to receive the same message from several sources, in different forms and at different times. Thus, a lesson can be delivered in a traditional manner, then through the web. And supervisors of the program can hold a seminar which tackles the topic another time, and video conference about the same topic can be used, in addition to the use of chatting and e-mails and Self-administered exams can be applied also. All those repetitions enrich the topic, and meet the needs of learners. What is important is that all those repetitions and various versions ought to be of a high level technology.
1.1 SCIENCE LEARNING
Science education is designs to share scientific data and events with students who are not part of the scientific community but have to benefit from scientific understanding. It is a way to make students scientifically literate about general concepts that pertain to scientific discovery. Science education usually includes the subject areas of physical, life, earth and space sciences. The aim of teaching any school subject must always be directed towards achieving the aims of education in general. The teaching of science as a subject must, therefore contribute to the all-round development of the child so that they comes out as socially useful and efficient citizen of the modern scientific world. According to Kothari commission “The destiny of the country is being shaped in the class rooms”. To achieve the designed goals and to meet the situation in a suitable way the teacher has to play a very vital role in educational institution. Teaching is considered both an art and a science.
Successful and effective teaching requires two basic things. The teacher should be competent to teach the subject allotted to him/her and at the same time he/she should follow new techniques of teaching to make the learning fruitful and interesting. Teaching and learning process forms an integral part of education. The effectiveness of teaching and learning could be measured in terms of the level of achievement of students in the subject of study and the effectiveness of teaching and learning depends upon both the teacher and the student. To increase the level of achievement in any subject, the teacher and the students need to have knowledge of blended learning to be employed. The new educational policy suggested measure to redesign the science curriculum so as to make it related to life. To improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning in schools must look into what teachers and students do in classrooms. During this period the subject was usually taught as general science in most of the states. However, at the secondary stage science was an optional subject, which was offered either as a combination of physical science and biology or as physics, chemistry and biology. The syllabus of science and textbooks were prescribed by the respective state agencies. The content and process of science teaching in schools, therefore, varied from one state to another.
The major objectives identified were:
• To acquire the knowledge of chemistry.
• To develop scientific attitudes such as objectives outlook, integrity, accuracy and precision, avoiding hasty conclusion on insufficient data.
The technology modules introduced at this stage should be more advanced than at the upper primary stage. The modules should involve design, implementation using the school workshop, if possible, and testing the efficacy of the modules by qualitative and quantitative parameters. The various components of the science curriculum indicated above should be integrated imaginatively.
1.2 LEARNING CHEMISTRY:
Chemistry is one of the most important branches of science; it enables learners to understand what happened around them. Because chemistry topics are generally related to or based on the structure of matter, chemistry proves a difficult subject for many students. Chemistry curricula commonly incorporate many abstract concepts, which are central to further learning in both chemistry and other sciences (Taber, 2002). These abstract concepts are important because further chemistry/science concepts or theories cannot be easily understood if these underpinning concepts are not sufficiently grasped by the student (Zoller, 1990; Nakhleh, 1992; Ayas & Demirba?, 1997; Coll & Treagust, 2001a; Nicoll, 2001). The abstract nature of chemistry along with other content learning difficulties (e.g. the mathematical nature of much chemistry) means that chemistry classes require a high-level skill set (Fensham, 1988; Zoller, 1990; Taber, 2002).
Chemistry is often regarded as a difficult subject, an observation that sometimes repels learners from continuing with studies in chemistry. With the establishment of new syllabuses in chemistry for secondary schools in different countries in the last decayed. One of the essential characteristics of chemistry is the constant interplay between the macroscopic and microscopic levels of thought, and it is this aspect of chemistry (and physics) learning that represents a significant challenge to novices (Bradley & Brand,1985). In his early study, Johnstone (1974) reported that the problem areas in the subject, from the pupils’ point of view, persisted well into university education, the most difficult topics being the mole, chemical formulae and equations, and, in organic chemistry, condensations and hydrolysis.
Over a number of years, many of the above difficult areas was subjected to systematic study to try to identify the point of difficulty and to seek common factors among the nature of these difficulties (Johnstone et al., 1977; Duncan ; Johnstone, 1973; Kellett ; Johnstone, 1974; Garforth et al., 1976). Johnstone and El-Banna (1986) suggested a predictive model that enabled them to raise and test an important hypothesis,which was then applied to chemistry learning as well as to learning in other science disciplines.
Chemistry, by its very nature, is highly conceptual. While much can be acquired by rote learning (this often being reflected by efficient recall in examination questions), real understanding demands the bringing together of conceptual understandings in a meaningful way. Thus, while students show some evidence of learning and understanding in examination papers, researchers find evidence of misconceptions, rote learning, and of certain areas of basic chemistry which are still not understood even at degree-level (Johnstone, 1984; Bodner, 1991): What is taught is not always what is learned.
1.3 LEARNING DIFFICULTIES IN CHEMISTRY:
Many students from secondary schools to universities in many countries struggle to learn chemistry and many do not succeed (Reid.L.,2008). Research has shown that many students do not correctly understand fundamental chemistry concepts (Kamisah,O.,;Nur,S.,2013). And also many of the scientifically incorrect ideas held by the students go unchanged from the early years of the schooling to university and sometimes beyond (Sozbiler,M.;Pynarbapy,A.N.C.,T.,2010). By not fully and appropriately understanding fundamental concepts, many students have trouble understanding the more advanced concepts that build upon these fundamental concepts (Thomas, P.L. ,1997) . Many high school and university students experience difficulties with fundamental ideas in chemistry (Carson,J.,; Watson, E. M,2002). Despite the importance of the foundation of chemistry, most students emerge from introductory courses with very limited understanding of the subject (Ochs, R.S.,1996) .
Chemistry had been regarded as a difficult subject for students by many researchers, teachers and science educators because of the abstract nature of many chemical concepts, teaching styles applied in class, lack of teaching aids and the difficulty of the language of chemistry. Chemistry being one of the most important branches of science enables learners to understand what happened around them. Because chemistry topics are generally related to or based on the structure of matter, chemistry appears to be a difficult subject for many students.
Chemistry curricula commonly incorporate many abstract concepts, which are central to further learning in both chemistry and other sciences. Chemistry concepts or theories can never be easily understood if the underpinning concepts are not sufficiently grasped by the student. The abstract nature of chemistry along with other content learning difficulties (e.g. the mathematical nature of much of chemistry) means that chemistry classes require a high-level skill set. Science inquiry has been highly advocated to be implemented in middle and high school science since the last century. Some common constraints to implement inquiry in Chemistry include inadequate Chemistry knowledge and nature of science, lack of pedagogical skills.
1.4 INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
In recent years reference to ‘digital technology in the classroom’ (DTC) can be taken to mean digital processing systems that encourage active learning, knowledge construction, inquiry, and exploration on the part of the learners, and which allow for remote communication as well as data sharing to take place between teachers and/or learners in different physical classroom locations. This is an expanded notion of technologies that recognizes their development from mere information delivery systems and also clarifies their role in classrooms in contrast to their wider use across schools and learning centers.
Other Terms Associated with Digital Technologies in the Classroom:
• Bring your own device (BYOD)
Definition : learners bring their own technology into the classroom for use as part of the learning activity.
Example : Mobile phone is used to browse the internet as part of a research Activity.
Benefits : Greater range of technologies available and lower cost to institution
Definition : Learners and teachers create an electronic catalogue of work that tracks their learning journey. This is usually online and often uses multimedia files.
Example : A student portfolio of artwork is presented online through an e-portfolio. This includes scans of their sketches, photographs of displays and visits to galleries, written reflections, narrated videos of the artist (learner) at work and an audio logbook.
Benefits : Provides a way of quickly and seamlessly presenting a wide variety of material in different formats including details of process.
• Flipped classroom
Definition : Learners discover new content before the lesson from online videos Or resources and then apply this knowledge in more personalized work in the classroom.
Example : Learners watch a video at home about how sedimentary rocks are transformed into metamorphic rocks. In class they work in groups to collaboratively create a diagram explaining this process of transformation.
Benefits : More time for activities that promote deeper understanding and Reflection.
• Personal Learning Network (PLN)
Definition : A PLN is an individual’s loose collection of links with other people or resources. The aim of such a network is to facilitate an exchange of ideas that supports learning.
Example : Links can be through, for example: online interest groups for example on Twitter and/or online and face-to-face courses.
Benefits : Access to a wide range of perspectives and expertise beyond the confines of the physical institution.
• Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
Definition : A VLE is an e-learning education system that is web-based, but modelled on conventional face-to-face education. It provides access to courses, course content, assessments, homework, links to external resources etc.
Example : Moodle Blackboard.
Benefits : Easy way to collate and organise courses and information
flexibility of access.
• Interactive Whiteboards (IWB)
It allows images from a computer to be displayed through a digital projector, onto a large usually wall-mounted) board. Users can interact with the content on the board using fingers or a stylus.
• Software Applications (Apps)
They are designed to operate on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
• Web 2.0 :
It refers to the second generation of the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 includes features and functionality that were not available before, for example. podcasts, blogs, wikis, RSS (Rich Site Summary – used for updating regularly changing web content), social networking and tagging.
Benefits of Digital Technologies in the Classroom
The potential benefits of DTC are that it can foster dialogic and emancipatory practice. Dialogic practice is that in which students are active, engaged and empowered participants in a conversation from which learning emerges.
? Different technologies can improve learning by augmenting and connecting learning activities
? Digital technology can often also be exciting for learners and offers a potentially more engaging alternative. At the same time it is important to be aware that some learners may be less confident in learning with digital technologies and steps need to be taken to ensure equality of access.
? Digital technology offers immediate feedback for both the learner and the teacher.