Learning Brand Stories Online: A Reflective Practice of Blended Learning

P. Y. LEE
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
pyvlee@hkbu.edu.hk

H. F. LAU
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
jasonlau@hkbu.edu.hk

Abstract

This research capitalizes virtual technology in higher education sector by using an online shopping platform called Taobao-Tmail (淘寶天貓) as a blended learning platform for students who study brands stories and communication. The advantages of using blended learning approach are, as researchers (e.g. Kreijins & Kirschner, 2004; Stahl, 2006) have highlighted, to enhance students' studying performance and to develop their competence while engaging in other digital learning platforms. The combination of face-to-face instruction and online pedagogy has proved as an effective approach to improve active and self-directed learning (Bonk & Graham, 2006).

In this pilot research, the method Reflective Practice (Donald Schön, 1983) has been applied to analyse the dynamics of applied learning in the online platform (e.g. Taobao-Tmail). The Reflective Practice is an educational research method for educators who study and evaluate their own teaching methods. In this research, the subject lecturer worked as a reflective practitioner during the teaching and students' learning process within both classroom and the online shopping platform. Students were asked to extend their studying to the Taobao-Tmail's virtual shopping mall and visit the brands stores and consumers virtually in able to understand the brand from a holistic and practical perspective. The results showed that the blended learning approach has successfully helped students to understand the theory within the classroom as well as obtaining first-hand experiences of how the brand is working among consumers online. In the course of globalization, being an educator in university, with the opportunity to apply diverse pedagogical methods in education in able to develop students' learning experience within and outside classroom. Nonetheless, virtual technology is not intended to replace the traditional classroom practices but rather enhance it (Dean, 2000). As Garrison and Cleveland-Immes (2005) stated that "educator" is a key in facilitating students' learning in particular to the inquiry process, assessment and feedback whenever using any virtual platforms. It is therefore important to enhance and blend traditional pedagogical methods in classroom in order to capitalizing virtual technology in higher education towards the challenges of a globalized world.

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