This article presents research from teachers in Northern Ireland who completed a course on ‘blended learning’ to link schools involved in Shared Education. This is the Northern Ireland policy to bring pupils from different schools together to work collaboratively. Important findings showed that prior to 2017, when teachers received training in blended learning, nearly all contact between their schools was face to face. After the training, teachers stated that the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) was used as much as face-to-face contact. The VLE had the greatest impact on pupils’ knowledge and attitudes towards each other. Teachers reported that this approach made a positive impact on friendship development, the capacity of children to work together, respect for difference and normalising relations between their pupils. Two thirds of the teachers agreed that equal importance be given to online learning and face-to-face contact in future planning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. We acknowledge the very helpful comments on early drafts of this paper provided by Professor Bill Hunter, Dr Elizabeth Worden, Professor Kader Parahoo and Professor Linda Clarke.
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