Blended learning is spreading through all levels of education around the world, compelling educators to confront existing assumptions of teaching and learning in higher education. Indeed, higher education institutions are challenged to position their structure to meet the connectivity demands of determined students and meet growing expectations and demands for higher quality learning experiences and outcomes. Society has been transformed by the expansion of information and communication technologies, thus there is significant reason to claim it will be one of the defining transformative innovation for higher education.
The internet has become the main provider of information, to teachers, learners and academics, offering a huge stock of knowledge. This changes the context of education. In order to effectively make use of the vast information and transform it into a stock of skills and knowledge, transformation of learning environments in higher education settings is important to ensure that the benefits are fully reached. A source of transformation is created from the ability to be both online learners and face – to – face learners as well, thus to be connected to a community of learners anytime and anywhere, without the limitation of time, place, or situation.
Albania is living in an era of accelerating change, not only regarding technology development, but also on the economic and social development. The connection between education and employment will be more indispensable. Labour markets and job profiles are changing more frequently forcing people to continuously adapt and flexibly respond to new requirements. It is a well-accepted view that modern economies and sustainable economic growth are driven by knowledge, hence the term “knowledge economy”. This means that schools and universities should equip students with skills needed to compete in the job market.
In regard to a growing tech based labour market, higher education institutions in Albania are considerably withdrawn from the adaptation of new methods of learning and tend to be conservative of their approach to education. The quality of education is certainly not impressive as well. According to (European Commision, 2016) the rapid expansion in the higher education system over the last decade has raised issues about quality. This, along with the identified problem of corruption, the limited capacity of professors in delivering high quality education and in conducting research, the outdated teaching methods and lack of equipment indicate that there are serious quality issues that need to be addressed.
Following the growing influence of technology in education, the purpose of this paper is to study the effectiveness of blended learning in higher education institutions in Albania, with the particular case of the Faculty of Economy at the University of Tirana. It aims to discuss the introduction of a LMS together with the traditional learning methods and to examine the effect of this blended approach in the students’ learning experience, focusing on their attitude and perceptions. One would argue that there are more important issues in a developing country that need to be addressed before introducing blended leaning in schools, but it is an effective and low-risk strategy to improve quality as well as to position universities for the technological developments that will be forthcoming in the next few years. As such, a careful first assessment need to be conducted.
The structure of this paper is organized as follow: Section 2 discuses blended learning research reviews and investigates factors that influence learning experience in high education institutions with the introduction of Learning Management Systems. Section 3 proposes research hypotheses and Section 4 presents the research methodology. The statistical analysis and results will be shown in Section 5 and the conclusions will be drawn in Section 6.