2522 Afr. J. Bus. Manage.and supplementary materials online while in a traditionalface-to-face learning environment; and3. Transforming blends, which facilitate radical trans-formation of pedagogy by taking full advantage of thecapacity offered by technology (Graham, 2006).According to Zukowski (2006), five emerging ingredientsare important elements of a blended learning process:live events, self-paced learning, collaboration,assessment and performance support materials. Painter(2006) listed eight key steps to blended learning:1. Prepare learners with essential skills and overallunderstanding to ensure success.2. Inform learners about objectives, facts, and keyconcepts of the skills they are going to learn and explainthe value of learning them.3. Demonstrate procedures, principles, concepts, andprocesses so learners can apply the skills.4. Provide learners with opportunities to practice newlylearned skills and build long-term retention.5. Evaluate learners’ application of new skills and providefeedback.6. Assist learners’ transfer of learning.7. Provide tacit support of peers, mentors, or experts.8. Allow learners to work collaboratively as a communityto solve problems.Singh and Reed (2001: 2) characterized blended learningas ‘optimizing achievement of learning objectives byapplying the “right” blended learning technique to matchthe “right” personal learning style to transfer the “right”skills to the “right” person at the “right” time.’ Each ofthese workplace definitions has the following features: (a)a focus on learning objectives rather than on the mode ofdelivery; (b) a respect for learning styles that can reach abroad corporate audience; (c) a desire to ease the overallcompetitiveness of the business organization and build asense of community; (d) an attempt to make work andlearning inseparable operations; and (e) embedding oflearning in all aspects of the business from hiring to salesto product development. Although, it is essential forblended learning teachers to articulate their teachingphilosophies, Kanuka (2008) argued that hybridinstructors must also be cognisant of three competingpsychological impressions of technology and their impacton the field of blended learning: user determinism, socialdeterminism and technological determinism.
MATERIALS AND METHODSStudy aim
The aim of the study was to elicit the opinions of trainers ofmechanical manufacturing students regarding training on ComputerNumerical Control (CNC) turning by blending face-to-face class-room and workshop activities with an Internet-based virtual trainingenvironment. Blended learning has been applied in highereducation and workplace learning settings on a global basis andcan lead to improved pedagogy, increased access and flexibility,and better cost-effectiveness (Graham, 2006). Mechanical manu-facturing requires extensive use of technology, and training in thisfield should be based on the use of educational technology.Blended learning can be used to ‘foster learning communities,extend training events, offer follow-up resources in a community ofpractice, access guest experts, provide timely mentoring orcoaching, present online lab or simulation activities and deliverprework or supplemental course materials’ (Bonk et al. 2006, 560).In the business world, the most important reasons for developingblended solutions include the ability to match learning styles, tocreate individually tailored solutions, to reduce class time; toimprove the learning rate; and to exploit investments already madein re-usable training resources (Sparrow, 2003). In academia, theinitial cost-saving argument for e-learning (Gayeski, 1998; Wilson,1999) has recently been replaced with a more refined under-standing of how to integrate technology into an overall learningstrategy. The present study relates the technology used inmanufacturing with the educational technology used for training in ablended environment. In this case, the role and function of a trainerin such an environment are of importance from the trainer’sperspective. Rather than the opinions of the trainees (who areexposed to blended learning), the opinions of the trainer aresignificant in assessing the place of blended learning in a technicaltraining lesson such as on CNC turning for mechanicalmanufacturing. This model can be regarded as a novel training andlearning design. The opinions of a trainer who has used this modelcan help educators to determine what they should focus on andwhat they should omit.
This study is based on a case at the Department of MechanicalEngineering, Technical Science College, Selcuk University, Konya,Turkey. In 2009, the college developed a virtual training centre forCNC (http://www.vtcforcnc.com) as part of an LdV Development ofInnovation Project. The training centre was set up on the Internetfor CNC training based on virtual aids. The author was involved inthis project as coordinator and researcher. After the project wascompleted, the training tool developed was applied in thedepartment as part of a blended learning model for CNC turning ina course on mechanical manufacturing delivered by a trainer whoalso worked on the project. The trainer had PhD qualification andwas teaching mechanical manufacturing department for more thansix years. The trainer was also involved in the mentioned project astrainer who helped the development process getting the feedbackof trainees to form a well-balanced curriculum of CNC training. Untilthe time of the project, he was experienced in mechanicalmanufacturing training using face-to-face teaching in the classenvironment and workshop. The Turkish version of the CNC virtualtraining centre was added to training sessions, along withclassroom and workshop techniques, for two semesters during the2009–2010 academic years.Qualitative research was then based on face-to-face in-depthinterviews after the trainer had used blended learning for twosemesters. According to Kvale (1983: 174), a qualitative researchinterview is ‘an interview whose purpose is to gather descriptions ofthe life-world of the interviewee with respect to interpretation of themeaning of the described phenomena.’ Data were collected duringface-to-face interviews. The meeting room was quiet, comfortable,and free from outside distractions, which provided a good interviewambience. The author asked a series of open-ended questionsranging from general to specific points to obtain the interviewee’sopinions, experiences and suggestions. Interviews were conductedby the author and were tape-recorded for accuracy after permissionwas obtained from the interviewee. Notes were also taken during