11 Introduction

The National Survey of Student Engagement’s 2007 notes the importance of high impact activities where learners “interact with faculty and peers about substantive matters” (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2007, p. 7). High impact activities increase learner engagement and result in greater success in learning. The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) reports many younger students prefer an appropriate balance of technology and face-to-face contact with faculty (EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 2007). Further, according to the ECAR National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology (2011), “More students (36 percent) prefer a blended learning environment of seminars and other smaller classes with some online components to any other configuration of face-to-face and online options” (p. 27). Explaining the principle behind this finding, Dziuban, Hartman, and Mehaffy (2014) observe that

Blended learning, in all its various representations, has as its fundamental premise a simple idea: link the best technological solutions for teaching and learning with the best human resources…. encourag[ing] the development of highly interactive and collaborative activities that can be accomplished only by a faculty member in a mediated setting. (p. 332)

Even though technology enables greater learner control and autonomy, learners generally value social contact and faculty guidance, especially when entering a new field or course of study (de Laat, 2006). In fact, some might argue that student interaction with faculty and with other students in the context of learning is an expression of a basic human need.


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