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The combined learning in higher education. An experience through the PBL


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The present study is based on the Blended Learning (B-learning) method using the Project Based Learning (PBL) as a teaching strategy. The students’ performance can be valued through face- to- face sessions and on-line interactions when they created business projects as an approach to real situations of business life. To carry out this study, the students use the Canvas model, as a systematic prototype integrated by nine interrelated blocks that enable the comprehension about the different activities to follow for the creation of a business model in a holistic and simple way. As a result of this mixed study, it was found out that the professors make the most effective contribution to B-learning. This is due to the fact that they are in charge of the coordination, organization and planning of the teaching-learning process in general. They have to look for the best teaching strategies and technological resources to achieve their educational aims. Throughout the course, the professor’s role is to motivate the student in order to make a final product which can connect his/her educational activities with real life situations. Meanwhile the student is carrying out the project, he needs to solve complex problems.
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International Journal of New Technology and Research (IJNTR)
ISSN:2454-4116, Volume-4, Issue-2, February 2018 Pages 12-21
Abstract The present study is based on the Blended Learning
(B-learning) method using the Project Based Learning (PBL) as a
teaching strategy. The students’ performance can be valued
through face- to- face sessions and on-line interactions when they
created business projects as an approach to real situations of
business life. To carry out this study, the students use the Canvas
model, as a systematic prototype integrated by nine interrelated
blocks that enable the comprehension about the different
activities to follow for the creation of a business model in a holistic
and simple way. As a result of this mixed study, it was found out
that the professors make the most effective contribution to
B-learning. This is due to the fact that they are in charge of the
coordination, organization and planning of the teaching-learning
process in general. They have to look for the best teaching
strategies and technological resources to achieve their
educational aims. Throughout the course, the professor’s role is
to motivate the student in order to make a final product which
can connect his/her educational activities with real life situations.
Meanwhile the student is carrying out the project, he needs to
solve complex problems.
Index Terms Blended learning, higher education,
project-based learning (PBL), learning activities, learning
By taking advantages of the technology benefits which enable
the students to collaborate and interact, and the participation of
the professor as a facilitator in the educational processes,
blended learning is a strategy in which the professors plan their
lessons that integrate activities for the students to interact in
both the traditional classroom classes and the on-line learning
Therefore, when technology is used in the student’s learning
process, it’s very important to identify its pedagogical value by
designing specific strategies. In the case of PBL (Muñoz
and Maldonado, 2011), state that, in higher education, for the
students to construct concepts when they learn by solving
problems, innovated educational processes with appropriate
strategies to work in complex situations are required.
It is by using the Project Based Learning (PBL) strategy that
knowledge management, students, tasks and activities to
promote meaningful and pragmatic experiences are integrated.
In this way, the research carried out was to evaluate the
blended learning by using the PBL as a teaching strategy in the
subject named Technological Solutions Applicable to the
Organizations (TSAO) of the Administration career in the
University of Veracruz, Xalapa, campus Veracruz, México.
That 40-hour-subject was taught in one semester as a workshop
Brenda Luz Colorado Aguilar. Departamento de Investigación de la
Escuela Normal Veracruzana “Enrique C. Rébsamen”, Xalapa, Ver., México.
Rubén Edel Navarro. Laboratorio para la Innovación y Desarrollo
Regional LIDer-Lab, Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, México.
which included face to face classes, on-line classes (the
institutional platform, facebook platform and the design and
structure of websites); the searching and reading of the
information as well as the individual and group work done by
the students, and the final evaluation which graded all the
activities done in the final product.
This integrated product was the creation of a business project
that had to be published in a website designed by each working
team. The business project integrated the Canvas model
elements created by Alexander Osterwalder, an enterprise
researcher (Márquez, 2010). The diagram represents a
systematic prototype integrated by nine interrelated blocks that
enable the comprehension about the different activities that
guide the creation of a business model in a holistic and simple
In this regard, the aims to get the students interact with the
business environment and include what they have learned
throughout their higher education to apply it in real life were
achieved. Therefore, the learning activities involved the
environments, the teaching strategies and the management of
learning in higher education, as well as the meaning of learning
according to the business administration students’ opinion.
The research problem was tackled with the following
question: What is the didactic contribution of B-learning
strategy through PBL in a higher education context? The
general objective approach was 1) to evaluate the students’
learning experience in blended learning by using the PBL.
The specific objectives were: 2) to analyze the learning
activities when working with the PBL principles and 3) to
analyze the technology types used for designing the business
projects as final products of the course.
The study was structured based on the revision of literature,
the epistemological framework, the methodology and the
presentation and discussion of the results found out in a mixed
study. It mainly focused on the qualitative approach in which it
was concluded that the effective contribution to blended
learning is the professor for his/her coordination, organization
and learning environment planning, the teaching strategies and
the selection of the appropriate technological resources. In
conclusion, the professor’s support was a significant aspect
throughout the course because he/she encourages the student to
solve complex problems through a final product which
connects the learning activities with real life situations.
Key Blended learning is the integration of technology to
diversify the education process in a way that each learning
setting is represented by the dynamic of cognitive processes
that emerge from learning situations with the student. The use
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An
Experience Through the PBL
Brenda Luz Colorado Aguilar, Rubén Edel Navarro
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An Experience Through the PBL
of on-line and face-to-face learning experiences enable to
combine the interaction, interrelation and active participation
settings between professors-students, students-professors.
Thus, the combination in the learning process that deals with
the integration of technology has been called flexible learning
by different authors (Salinas, 1999), semi-attendance
(Bartolomé, 2002), hybrid model (Marshall, 2003), mixed
models (Bartolomé, 2004), combined learning (Bartolomé,
According to (Cabero, Llorente and Román, 2004), it refers
to two modalities that were considered opposite in the past; and
according to Contreras, Alpiste, Eguia (2006), the combination
of attending university classes and taking them through
Leading the way, Solano (2013), stands out that the use of
different teaching methodologies and the collaborative work
are the components of B-learning. He identifies the use of
different digital tools, face-to-face sessions and individual
learning as well as traditional education and on-line activities.
In this way, Poon (2013) defines blended learning as the
combined learning centered on the student in which he/she, by
means of his/her active and effective participation enables
better learning results, access, sense of community, flexibility,
effective use of the resources and his/her own satisfaction.
In Osorio and Duart’s point of view (2011), the analysis of
interaction in mixed learning settings comes from the
education activities between professors and students. They
were determined based on a case study of a post grade
curriculum taught by using the combined modality in a
Colombian university.
In the previously mentioned study, it was found out that the
construction of the knowledge may be enhanced by means of
working on authentic activities, generating, at the same time,
settings to accomplish better results in learning and academic
achievement; notwithstanding, good conditions and
characteristics are needed in the development and design of
such activities in which the combined settings, the
characteristics and practices of professors and students
working together can be efficiently used.
Halverson, Graham, Spring, Drysdale and Henrie (2014),
conducted a case study at the Nottingham Trent University
(NTU) in the United Kingdom. They analyzed the students’
learning experience through B-learning method based on the
professors and students’ opinions. The evaluation was carried
out by giving questionnaires to nine professors of different
subjects to answer four groups of questions about blended
learning: knowledge and experience of learning, design and use
of technological resources, and evaluation of learning. Apart
from this, an on-line survey which evaluated blended learning
was given to 200 students. The survey was divided in four
groups of questions: learning experiences, general satisfaction
of students, observations about their learning and in the final
section they were asked to make a comparison between
blended learning and face-to-face learning.
As a result, suggestions about the amount of money, time,
effort and technology infrastructure to perform the case study
are obtained. Human resources and training to manage this type
of education modality are also required
Thus, in different researches, blended learning is used to
combine different areas, share experiences about the use of
technology and integrate learning strategies to achieve the best
contribution to the teaching-learning process.
Technology is closely related to pedagogy which, by means
of its appropriate teaching strategies, involves the student in the
learning environment. According to Maldonado (2008),
carrying out the PBL as part of the curriculum, is not a new
conception. It is conceived as an integrating strategy rather than
a complement because it is an important component of the
teaching-learning process.
In accordance with Huber (2008), the first proposals of PBL
are found between 1900-1933; they were the creation of a
setting for exchanging ideas, decision taking and action
planning with the purpose of making a specific product at the
end of the task.
Rodríguez and Cortés state (2010), PBL strategy is a guide
of the students’ progress by diagnosing problems, giving
feedback and evaluating general results of the achieved
Montes (2015), considers PBL as an active strategy for
students. It is based on making projects in which they develop
critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability of
working in teams.
In this sense, the ABP are conceived as the integral process
that authentically tasks are completed in practice through
activities (Rodriguez and Cortés 2010), structured as follows:
Designing a final product
Identifying a specific environment
Searching the topics
Designing a plan to carry out a project
Designing and elaborating a product
Here is where Osterwalder’s Canvas model is used in the
TSAO course. It was considered to be appropriate to design a
business project by following the systematic process of Canvas
model. It is a diagram of interrelated elements that permits to
analyze systematically the way to create a functional enterprise.
Thus, by applying their original ideas, searching about the
local enterprises, and planning their proposition, the students
created a business project. Therefore, the Canvas model was
suggested as a guide or systematic process for the students (Fig.
1). According to this model, the students start with the central
element of the diagram which is the value proposition. It is
connected to the blocks on the right side of the diagram which
represents the relationship channels with the customers. The
left side shows the relationship with the resources and the
necessary activities to keep the value proposition of the
enterprise. The blocks at the bottom side refer to the income
and costs generated when the enterprise is working.
According to Marquez (2010), each element is defined in the
following way:
Value Proposition. To identify the main reasons that make
an enterprise stands out in the business market drawing
attention to its competitive value.
Customer relationship. It means the communication with
the customers as parts of the commercial services and activities
of the enterprise.
International Journal of New Technology and Research (IJNTR)
ISSN:2454-4116, Volume-4, Issue-2, February 2018 Pages 12-21
Distribution channels. They refer to the means by which
the enterprise keeps contact with the customers to inform them
about its products and services.
Customer segment. It represents the type of customer the
enterprise requires.
Income sources. Here it is where the different forms to
obtain income for the enterprise are specified.
Key activities. They are the enterprise operations to
establish relationship with customers and suppliers by
Fig.1. Canvas model
In face-to-face education, the abilities to establish
relationship with other people are promoted; and in on-line
education, with the evolution of virtual learning, the interaction
as a process is promoted, too. This type of interaction is defined
according to Osorio and Duart (2011), as cognitive and social
actions between student-student, and student-professor to carry
out learning activities. When the learning scenarios are
appropriate, students feel highly motivated; so, meaningful
learning is accomplished. In this study and throughout a higher
education subject, a research question to know the didactic
contribution of B-learning based on the PBL was stated.
means of the key resources to define the value proposition
since the beginning.
Key resources. They refer to the physical, intellectual,
human and financial resources necessary for an enterprise
to run.
Network of partners. It consists of those alliances the
enterprise establishes with its partners, suppliers, and
members so as the effectiveness of the enterprise prevails.
Network of partners. It consists of those alliances the
enterprise establishes with its partners, suppliers, and
members so as the effectiveness of the enterprise prevails.
Cost structure. The outlays an enterprise has, to run
Thus, the systematic model of Canvas was used to make the
final product of the course based on the PBL guidelines in
which technology and pedagogy are mixed in such a way that
they both follow a didactic strategy in accordance with the
business topic of the TSAO subject.
In this context, it is important to consider that for analyzing,
identifying and selecting the technological resources,
according to Colorado and Edel (2012), their pedagogical
usability -feature that permits, based on the education
evaluation-, implementing strategies that closely relates
didactics and technology.
The general objective of the study case is 1) to evaluate the
students’ learning experience in a mixed-mode learning by
using the PBL and as specific objectives 2) to analyze the
learning activities based on the PBL guidelines and 3) to
choose carefully the types of technology to write a business
project as a final product of the course.
To articulate the theoretical support of the mixed-mode
learning contribution to the students’ learning, the
contributions of mediated-learning theory and
multimedia-learning theory were analyzed. In this regard, the
professor’s role was a key component to bring together
facilitation, didactics and technology use.
A. Theory of mediated learning experience
In the theory of mediated-learning experience, it is
noticeable the professor’s role as a mediator-facilitator of the
strategies that encourage the student towards learning.
Feuerstein and Lewin-Benham (2012), state that a facilitated
professor - students relationship is established in such a way
that students’ motivation about the meaning of something and
the experience of doing it are planned on purpose. In this
context, the mixed-mode learning brings together the
professor’s facilitation (as the main component), the
face-to-face classes and on-line settings (Fig. 2).
The main components to carry out the teaching-learning
practice are comprised in a process that starts with the lesson
planning in which the professor identifies the activities,
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An Experience Through the PBL
strategies and evaluation of learning. Then he/she continues
with the digital resources to monitor the students constantly. It
is worth noting that the quality and quantity of learning pace
increases when mediation comes from experienced-facilitators
(Tébar, 2009).
Fig. 2. The teaching environment in blended learning mediation
In this model, the professor’s role is as mediator-facilitator
and designer of learning activities that enable the student to
develop information, communication and collaboration
competencies. The key of the authentic professor’s facilitation
is the selection of appropriate technology that helps students
learn meaningfully. That is, as Ferreiro and Vizoso (2008) say,
professors shall use the technological resources there are too
many nowadays and have great possibilities- to make things
better and optimize all the components of the teaching-learning
B. Cognitive Theory of multimedia learning
Furthermore, as Andrade-Lotero (2012) say, the main
assumptions of the cognitive theory of multimedia learning
(CTML), developed by Mayer in 2005, based on the principles
of the theory of cognitive workload (TCW) of Sweller (1994);
tackle the form to improve learning by using electronic means
with the participation of the professor in the instructional
design. With this regard, the professor’s role is as a planner, a
designer, an organizer of the resources and settings which will
be the educational atmosphere of the students.
So, the principle of CTML establishes that the educational
process is effective when the characteristics of the human
condition are considered. In this way, the selection,
organization and classification of information and instructional
materials are important so as not to overload the students’
cognitive process and therefore their learning may be
diminished (Andrade-Lotero, 2012). According to Mayer,
Heiser and Lonn (2001), people learn better by showing them
literacy and images than only through literacy. Therefore,
CTML studies the way to explain the meaningful results that
come from the integration of both elements; when the images
and words or text combine appropriately to issue a structured
message in order to enable students to understand.
For this reason, it is important to remark the use of
technology in the educational process by highlighting the
professor’s facilitation when he establishes the atmosphere, the
strategies, the materials and resources clearly articulated
with didactics.
The study was analyzed by using a mixed-method design
based on a consistent sample for both approaches. Thirty-five
students participated in the quantitative study; the survey
technique with a structured questionnaire was applied on line.
The survey was divided in three sections (experience on
B-learning, the PBL didactic strategy, and opinion about the
technological environments developed). The reliability of the
instrument was evaluated by using the split halves method and
the result was a percentage of .89 The content, construct and
criterion validity were evaluated by means of an
operationalization of variables table by using the variables of
the study.
It is important to point out that the qualitative study was
conducted as an inquiry process to approach “the world out
there” and understand, describe and explain the social
phenomenon deeply (Gibbs 2012), categories of analysis by
using corresponding sub-categories from the data processing in
the qualitative analysis software MAXQDA were obtained.
Five students participated as key informants. Here is the
criteria used to select the key informants: (1) having been a
TSAO student at the accountancy and business administration
faculty, (2) having worked actively individually and in teams in
the TSAO subject and (3) being willing to answer the complete
For this reason, it is important to remark the use of
technology in the educational process by highlighting the
professor’s facilitation when he establishes the atmosphere, the
strategies, the materials and resources clearly articulated with
The TSAO subject belongs to the disciplinary area of the
business administration program at the University of Veracruz.
It focuses on the development of the competencies in the
students to evaluate how efficient and effective the information
technology is in companies. (UV, 2012).
In this regard, in the TSAO course, the active participation of
the students to identify the type of technology suitable to the
enterprises, and the development of a functional business
project quite close to the enterprise real function is promoted.
For this reason, it is necessary to ask trigger questions to
analyze, in a preliminary way, situations to solve complex
problems. In this respect, the market, the enterprise
competitiveness and the different situations the students should
consider for a business project were analyzed.
Thus, by using technology and having the professor’s
assistance during the learning process, some elements are
combined to contribute, in this way, to the student’s own
educational process.
The learning activities were carried out through face-to-face,
and on-line sessions on the institutional learning platform, a
closed group on facebook for the student-student and
students-professor’s communication and feedback. As a final
product, in teams, the students designed websites to publish
International Journal of New Technology and Research (IJNTR)
ISSN:2454-4116, Volume-4, Issue-2, February 2018 Pages 12-21
each business model structured during the course and saved the
documentation of their prototype in a digital file.
Therefore, the subject was developed in both ways:
face-to-face sessions and on-line classes as it follows below:
Institutional platform. For the coordination of the course;
the documentation storing (an action guide of the business
project, and sources of information; as well as a means to email
the activities that support the final project; and the written work
documenting the business project.
Closed group and discussion forum (facebook) For
student-student and professor-student interactions. The forum
used to discuss and give feedback throughout the course.
Websites: The use of free platforms on internet to design
and publish the business projects.
To carry out the business project, the general indications and
guidelines of the Canvas business model were followed.
According to them, an enterprise should be set up
systematically. Those steps were adapted for the TSAO
subject, for which working teams of 5 students each one were
organized. Based on the research questions made on the
diagram (Table 1), these teams structured their business project
throughout the course.
Following the Canvas model, the students started in the
middle of the diagram, where the value proposition is. It is the
essential element because it guides the students all the time;
they need to identify what makes an enterprise outstands and
causes the customers prefer to buy there to at any other
enterprises with the same line of business; that is called the
value-added concept. On the other hand, the other elements are
complementary. On the right side of the diagram, the students
analyzed the type of communication they shall have with the
customers during the commercialization process, the type of
customers they will sell their products and provide service, the
means of communication they would use to let people know
their products or service. This last aspect was done by
analyzing the current technology resources the students usually
use to buy products and can be suitable to incorporate in their
business idea. The students also analyzed, on the same side, the
element concerning the way of sale and service revenue.
On the left side of the diagram, the students answered
questions about the activities and resources an enterprise
requires to accomplish its value proposition, as defined at the
beginning; as well as its main business partnerships such as its
trading partners, providers, and so forth, to make the enterprise
efficient. Last but not least, the cost determination for the
enterprise to start working.
Throughout the course, complementary activities were
carried out in face-to-face sessions and, later on, they were
uploaded to the institutional digital platform to be evaluated.
There was also a constant feedback and discussion on the
facebook forum
At the end of the course, the students made a presentation of
their business project in face-to-face sessions. They talked
about the enterprise web-site as well as its promotional
products to illustrate the sale and service the enterprise offers
(Fig. 3).
As an example of the business project, an enterprise called
BisKotakafé which makes coffee and cookies is presented.
There, the students made an analysis of its value proposal and
suggested coffee-essence products which are sold near the
region. The cookies packages were made of recyclable material
and sold to the general public and, upon request, for any kinds
of events.
In this way, by answering the trigger questions, the students
faced real life situations when they put into practice a business
idea that integrated all the necessary elements to run a regional
enterprise efficiently.
Fig. 3. Business Project of coffee cookies as an example of the business project
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An Experience Through the PBL
Table 1. Key questions that guide the design canvas model
Partners network
What is the
value-added concept
of my enterprise that
makes it stand out?
Customer relationship
What are the main
business partnerships
the enterprise sets up
with its suppliers and
partners in order to be
What kind of relationship do I keep
with the customers during pre-sale and
post-sale services (Sale executives,
personalized sale, contact-center,
among others)
What kind of customers
the company offers the
service or products?
Communication and distribution
What means of communication do I
use with the customers to let my
products known? (advertisement, web
sites, etc.)
What is the operating cost of an enterprise?
What are the ways by which sale income and the enterprise services
are received?
The learning experiences were carried out through
face-to face and on-line environments. In both, the students’s
participation was remarkable during the TSAO course.
Innovative ideas prevailed as seen through the business idea
proposals considering the real matters new enterprises face.
The study focused on determining the didactic contribution of
blended learning and PBL in
university subject. Therefore, the suitability of B-learning
using PBL and the appropriate technological resources were
evaluated through a qualitative study. Thus, five students as
key informants participated. After evaluating their perceptions,
some areas of their interpretations were identified. They were
divided in three groups with sub-groups (Table 2).
Table 2. Categories of the qualitative approach analysis
Categories of Analysis
Learning environment
Integrating project
Experience on the use of ICT
S u b c a t e g o r í e s
Face-to-face classes
Connection between the school and the real world
Type of tool and/or resource
Implementation of technology
Working in teams
Appropriateness of use
Appropriate learning
Learning experience
The category of learning environment was divided in three
sub-categories of analysis: face-to-face classes,
implementation of technology and appropriate learning. All of
them show the students’ perception about the way the TSAO
course was carried out. It involved face-to-face students’
interaction and the appropriate learning achieved (Fig 4).
In this way, the students evaluated the face-to-face classes as
the ones in which the dynamic of the course, the general
explanations, the professor’s objectives, as well as the
feedback on the activities the students give to each other were
set up.
About the category called implementation of technology, the
students identified it as a working tool that enables the
professor’s facilitation and his/her revision on time, as well as
the innovation by using different virtual settings to set up their
final project. The students showed approval about using
web-sites when creating an enterprise.
Figure 4. Students’ perceptions about the learning environment
Concerning the category called appropriate learning, the
students said that the use of technology was good because it
helped them to make their final product; and there was a
continuous professor-student and student-student
communication. The students found out that learning was
much more meaningful.
The category called integrating project was formed by three
subcategories of analysis: connection between the school and
the real world, teamwork, and learning experience.
Thus, in this category the students’ perception related to the
integrating product of the course was inferred. Connecting
International Journal of New Technology and Research (IJNTR)
ISSN:2454-4116, Volume-4, Issue-2, February 2018 Pages 12-21
educational activities with real situations of the enterprise life
generated a language experience in which teamwork was
significant. In fig. 5, it can be noticed that the three
subcategories of the integrating project had about the same
weight which means they were really integrated and balanced
according to the students’ favorable perception. They presented a
frequency of the codes between 22 and 27 opinions.
Figure 5. Analysis subcategories of the integrating Project
Thus, the students’ opinions in favor of applying the PBL
strategy to make a product that made them learn and feel
motivated are clearly showed in Table 3.
Here there are some opinions of the students supporting that
situation: “well, I think it was very interesting, I had never
worked on a similar project in which I learned things to apply
in real life” (student 3). “I learned to take decisions as a group;
and to consider my classmates’ capabilities and attitudes to
make a good project” (student 1); “I learned that starting a
business is not easy but when you finish, you feel really
satisfied” (student 5).
In this way, the teaching strategy was analyzed as a part of
the educational environment in which the students worked in
teams actively and used the PBL criteria. This work was done
as Rodríguez and Cortés (2010) say, the design and elaboration
of the final product should be done by identifying the specific
environment where it should be applied, documenting oneself
to support it. All of this was immersed in the action plan of the
project management which operated according to Canvas’
systematic and pragmatic model.
Thus, they considered that working in teams was important
because it gave them the best opportunity for taking decisions
as a group, being respectful, listening and communicating with
the other members of the team, and being tolerant of the other
team members’ opinions; but especially, having experienced
the higher education subject which according to Noguera and
Gros (2014), when working groups are formed among students,
there should be joint and not performing
tasks individually responsible.
Table 3. Students’ perception when creating a final product by using the BPL
Integrating Project
Connection between the school and the real
Working in teams
Learning experience
“Well it was interesting, I had never worked in a
similar project in which I learned its application
in real life” (student 3).
“I learned to take decision as a group; to consider my
classmates’ capabilities and attitudes to make a good
Project” (student 4).
“I learned that starting a business is not easy but
when you finish, you feel really satisfied” (student
“The course activities let me increase my
knowledge and grow as an individual; deal with
my classmates but they especially made me feel
motivated to start my own business” (student 1).
“I learned to listen to new ideas and proposals about
our new business model, have a good
communication and make a collaborative work”
(student 1).
“The use of Canvas model in the project allowed the
professor and the students to carry out the activities
in order” ( student 1).
“The responsibility to be in charge of an area of
a company which is a good experience” (student
“The main achievement was face-to-face
communication and virtual one. I learned to listen to
other classmates and be tolerant with their’
opinions” (student 3).
“I liked this way of working because we followed an
order and we knew what to do in the different
activities as the setting up of our Enterprise”
(Student 2).
About the category of the Experience in the use of ITCs, the
opinions focused on the technology used to carry out the
activities of the course and the way technology makes an
enterprise to be more functional (Table 4).
The subcategories were integrated according to the learning
environments the students used. In the case of the web site
designed to set up the enterprise, they said it provided a
meaningful learning experience by considering how much
technology they can use to make their enterprise more
functional and efficient. In a student’s point of view: “I learned
the way an enterprise can design its web page, how its
advertisement works, and the technology that can be used to
permit its products and services to be known” (student 4).
About using the electronic institutional platform for learning,
the students said it was a useful link for the coordination of the
project, storing the information on line and uploading the
activities. They considered it to be remarkable and easy-to-use.
According to one student’s opinion “The electronic platform
was a guide because if we forgot something, it was always
available there and it also had the lesson plan” (student 5).
And finally, the use of facebook, allowed a better interaction
between professor-student, student- professor in the closed
group and discussion forum to interact at any time and any
place. Therefore, the students found it as a means by which
they communicated better with the professor since he/she was
available even in the distance by using the forum to answer
their doubts and reinforce what they had learned in a
face-to-face class. Here there is, one student’s perception: “By
facebook you can keep contact with the professor and ask any
questions about something you did not understand; and you do
not need to wait until the following class” (student 5).
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An Experience Through the PBL
Table 4. Perception about the types of tools and learning resource
Type of tool and/or resource
Institutional platform
Facebook (closed group and forum)
Appropriate use criteria
“It was something new for me because I had not
designed a web site before. At the beginning, I
thought it was going to be complicated but as I was
practicing I learned a lot” (1).
“This is the first time I use a platform
designed for school activities” (student 3).
“In Facebook you can keep contact with the professor
and ask any questions about something you did not
understand. You do not need to wait until the following
class.” (Student 5).
“I learned how an enterprise designs a web page;
how it makes its advertisement work and the
technology used to make its products and service
known” (student 4).
“I had not used the platform before but it was
easy. Besides technology allows professors to
have a register and control of the students”
(student 3).
Facebook is a strategic tool since most of the students or
the people are usually connected to that social network
which enables communication a little bit more” Student
“On the web site, we were setting up our enterprise
by integrating what we were learning in class”
(student 3).
“The electronic platform was a guide because
if we forgot something, it was always
available there and it also had the lesson
plan” (student 5).
Facebook helps us to keep a close relationship between
the students and the professor so as to reinforce the
knowledge learned in class” (student 4).
In general terms, talking about the qualitative analysis (Fig.
6), it can be noticed that the learning environment and the
integrating project had a a higher percentage; that means the
students’ opinions prevailed when they were asked about using
the PBL in the course because they had an action guide based
on the Canvas model. This fact provided the students with an
effective learning experience as it can be read from one student
indubitable opinion: “I liked this way of working because we
followed an order and we knew what to do in the different
activities such as the setting up of our enterprise” (student 2).
About the experience on using ICT, it was a category that
showed the functionality the students found out in the learnig
resources of the course, and the way an enterprise can use
technology to run more efficiently. Technology was used more
as a part of the learning environment and a way to carry out the
integrating project than a technological means.
Fig. 6. Categories of qualitative analysis of greater weight
Concerning the quantitative study, the group of informants
was formed by 63% female students and 37% male students
whose ages were between 18 and 22 years old. When they were
asked their opinions regarding the learning environment, the
combination of face-to-face classes and the
use of different technological resources throughout the course,
87% percent of them gave positive responses.
Thus, when blended learning is used in a teaching process,
according to Agudelo and Salinas (2015), implies the
integration of well-designed spaces where the acquisition and
construction of knowledge can be conceived as part of planning
and organizing learning situations, the time to be
spent, the strategies to be used, the classes instructions, and the
selection of educational resources to create effective learning
Regarding the institutional e-learning platform, it was
considered to be an appropriate learning environment in which
the students interacted with the professor. It was a favorable
tool for the coordination of the course according to the
students’ opinion (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7. Opinions of students from about the institutional platform
Even though on-line environments had a specific and
determined objective for each activity of the course, it was
important to consider the students’ evaluation to identify in
which of them, they liked to work the most and which one was
found as the most supportive for the activities done. Thus, the
students had mixed opinions about the learning environments
throughout the course (Fig. 8).
Fig. 8. Learning platforms which students located more taste and
International Journal of New Technology and Research (IJNTR)
ISSN:2454-4116, Volume-4, Issue-2, February 2018 Pages 12-21
When students were asked about the activities in which they
have learned the most, they pointed out it had been when they
used the Canvas model. According to Marquez (2010) this
prototype provides a powerful and clear synthesis to set up a
functional business (Fig. 9).
Fig. 9. Activities in which students believe they had achieved greater
About the discussion group created on Facebook to promote
the interrelation among students, as a support in their final
project and used to post their ideas of business in the forum,
most of the students agreed it was useful (Fig. 10).
Fig. 10. Facebook as a communication means
Applying the PBL strategy, according to Rodríguez and
Cortés (2010) who recommend the identification of a final
product within the subject area of research; and develop a
management plan for the project, the design and elaboration of
a product according to a specific environment meant an integral
process in which, in an authentic way, the students developed
their own ideas to create their business projects.
For that purpose, the students were asked about using a
defined plan of action by using the PBL that guides the learning
activities throughout the course. It generated a positive
experience as you can see in Fig. 11.
Fig. 11. Opinions about the use of PBL as a learning strategy
In this regard, it worths saying that professor’s mediation
and the CTML basis were appreciated by the students.
Throughout the course, the combination of materials, learning
resources and tools, learning strategies and learning
environments permitted the harmonization without
overloading the working environment but achieving the
collaboration. Thus, the students expressed their satisfaction in
working together and learning from each other so as to exceed
communication problems. They were, even changed into
business and social communication skills. In this regard,
Noguera and Gros (2014) say that when the students start
working on a complex task, they realize about the importance
of working together and, due to this fact, management and
communication aspects can be seen among groups. Besides, at
the same time, in a joint work manner, they made a product
which was a project created throughout the course and applied
to real life. Thereby, by using the PBL strategy, the students’
performance when working together, was remarkable.
In this study, the contribution of blended learning was noted
by pointing out that the design, re-creation and organization of
a learning environment requires a comprehensive professor’s
mediation supported by pedagogical criteria so as the students
can achieve meaningful learning experiences which, in this
studio, was based on PBL.
So, it’s important to point out that the professor’s
performance as a learning mediator of on-line, face-to face or
mixed-mode environments according to Tébar (2009),
represents a humanization agent in cultural transmision
considering the serious change in culture and information and
communication means.
In summary, the professor’s mediation allows the students to
understand better because he/she encourages them to be
willing and gives a constant educational feedback.
Learning environments define interrelation, collaboration,
joint-work and cognitive-process developments between
professors and students to generate learning.
In this context, the TSAO subject joined environments of
professor-student participations and interrelations and
remarked the competency to develop in the students which was
the evaluation of information technology performance used by
the enterprises to measure their efficiency and effectiveness
(UV, 2012).
Therefore, the research done focused on the evaluation of
effectiveness of blended learning in a higher education subject
whose purpose is the development of learning about the
importance of technology in an enterprise context.
In this way, the student’s approach to technological
environments in order to integrate them in the creation of a
business model which would stand out the technology
functionality in the enterprise, represented an interrelation
between the classes and the real world.
For this reason, the PBL strategy which delimited
specifically how a project should be developed was applied.
Moreover, by using the Canvas model more specifications to
set up a functional enterprise were provided. The specifications
were about the different situations and common issues to set up
The Combined Learning in Higher Education. An Experience Through the PBL
an enterprise and the technology the students could include to
make their business model more functional and competitive.
The students’ perception analysis based on the qualitative
study permitted to identify categories that delimited the
situations carried out during the teaching-learning process.
In those categories, the most representative students’
perceptions were delimited. As a result, the students’ showed
their approval about learning and the importance of working in
different activities throughout blended learning by using the
PBL in the course.
Consequently, professors and students’ roles as components
of the teaching learning process have been evolving in a lesser
or greater extent depending on the educational model of the
institution and the professor’s attitude towards the idea of
being a guide or an organizer promoting an active,
propositional, and participative learning for the students. It
shall be considered that students learn by “constructing
knowledge that has meaning according to the way they
perceive the world and their own experience and what they
want to know. Besides, learners do not learn alone but within
social and communication relationships (Gros, 2011).
Thus, in this study, it was estimated that learning activities
permitted to combine learning environments and teaching
strategies as well as the learning management with higher
education students concluding on the importance of the
professor to coordinate, organize and plan the educational
environment, teaching strategies and the appropriate
technological resources. The professor’s role as an organizer of
the learning processes was remarkable; it was also recognized
the use of technology as a goal in itself in the business project
development which permitted the students to participate in a
propositional project for society.
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Ph.D in Educational Systems and Environments by the
University of Veracruz. Member of the Consejo Nacional
de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) Thematic Network,
Area 3 (Communication and Information Technologies).
She has a published book, scientific papers in national an
international journals in the field of Educational Models
and Environments mediated by ICT. Currently working as a
research and professor at the Benemerita Escuela Normal
Veracruzana, Enrique C. Rebsamen in Xalapa, Veracruz. Professional
trainer in the qualitative data analysis software MAXQDA.
. Researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y
Tecnología (CONACYT) of México. He has been
recognized at the top-2000 scientist ranking from
Mexican Institutions by the Spanish National Research
Council, and distinguished with the International Award
for Educational Innovation at the Nova Southeastern
University (NSU) in Florida, USA. His scientific work in
the field of technology-mediated learning is reflected in books and publications
in scientific journals.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Recibido 15 de abril de 2013 • Corregido 20 de mayo de 2013 • Aceptado 19 de junio de 2013Este artículo resume los resultados del proyecto de investigación titulado El aprendizaje combinado (presencial y no presencial apoyado por el uso de internet) y su utilidad para el desarrollo de las habilidades de expresión escrita. Fue desarrollado durante los años 2011 y 2012 con el apoyo de la Vicerrectoría de Investigación del Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. Se enmarca dentro de la investigación-acción: explora y sistematiza el aporte que brinda la implementación del aprendizaje combinado (cursos bimodales) para el desarrollo de las habilidades de expresión escrita. Se diseñaron estrategias didácticas para la utilización de foros, wikis, bitácoras electrónicas, gestores bibliográficos, software para elaboración de mapas conceptuales, así como correctores ortográficos y diccionarios en línea, como medios para fomentar el uso de la lengua escrita en contextos significativos. Estas se ejecutaron con un total de ochenta y un estudiantes de la Universidad de Costa Rica y del Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica y trece docentes (diez impartían lecciones en Educación Superior, dos en el nivel secundario, para el Ministerio de Educación Pública y una laboraba para ambos niveles). Posteriormente, se evaluaron los resultados a través del análisis de productos seleccionados, conversatorios con las docentes participantes, entrevistas a la población participante y análisis de las bitácoras de trabajo elaboradas por la investigadora. Se concluye que el aprendizaje combinado permite el desarrollo de las habilidades de expresión escrita, ya que esto implica el desarrollo de la capacidad y destreza para cumplir con las diferentes tareas del acceso al conocimiento sobre un tema para escribir, la planificación de los escritos, la producción textual propiamente dicha, la revisión del escrito y la divulgación de producto final.