Internet and its services have become inherent element of the lives of young people. Nevertheless, we observe that educational potential, which the Internet offers for supporting learning processes, is acknowledged and exploited only partially. On that account, for several years we have been involved in developing investigative on-line activities, highly popular interactive events among students of the Slovak schools. In this way, as a value-added benefit, we have created unique opportunity for us to study how students behave when solving problems in the technology enhanced learning situations, how they communicate and cooperate in the teams, which competencies they cultivate. For such educational research, we have made use of the thoroughly projected combination of the intervention design and qualitative non-participant unstructured observations - within the framework of the design-based research methodology.
In this paper we present our initial assumptions and inspirations, methods of our research work and major observations, we clarify what investigative on-line activities are and how we have collected and analyzed data obtained by observing students while solving the investigative tasks. In our research we have focused on the development of three classes of competencies, namely digital competencies (i.e., those that pertain to the area of general digital literacy), computational competencies (i.e., those that correspond to the goals of informatics in education) and social competencies (i.e., those that allow students to communicate, cooperate, create or evaluate their own doings, learning etc.). In our paper we present corresponding observations and also attitudes and reactions of the teachers - who have been involved merely as supervisors, not as members of the teams. We also summarise potential contribution of our investigative on-line activities to education in the modern society.
Blended learning is becoming an attractive model in higher education as new innovative information technologies are becoming increasingly available. However, just blending face-to-face learning with information technologies cannot provide effective teaching and efficient solutions for learning. To be successful, blended learning must rely on solid learning theory and pedagogical strategies. In addition, there is a need for a design-based research approach to explore blending learning through successive cycles of experimentations, where the shortcomings of each cycle are identified, redesigned, and reevaluated. This paper reports on a study conducted on a blended learning model in Java programming at the introductory level. It presents the design, implementation, and evaluation of the model and its implications for the learning of introductory computer programming.