Universiteit Leiden

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Blended learning activates students

Recently, the booklet 'Blended Learning, het versterken van het onderwijs op de Universiteit Leiden' has been launched. Sonja Wagenaar, educational adviser at ICLON, was project manager of the three-year Blended Learning Program in which blended learning training was implemented in the studies Psychology, Law and International Studies.

One of the outcomes of the program was to include blended learning in the (re)design of education and not as an end in itself. How does Sonja look back over the past period? 

What is Blended Learning?

'Blended learning is a thoughtful combination of face-to-face and online education. In that mix, it is essential to assume an educational question: What challenges do you encounter in your subject, what do you want to change in your education and how can you achieve that?

If you notice that students come to lectures unprepaired, you could, for example, choose to use knowledge clips, so that you can actively work on deepening the subject during your lessons (flipped classroom). But why do you want students to watch a video beforehand? Do they have to have an opinion about the video, isolate the most important concepts? Then make a good educational assignment with the video and determine how to discuss this information if you see the students again to make a real connection between these educational elements.'

Lessons learned

'The program focused on the implementation strategies of the three directors of education and, in addition, the educational approach of blended learning. All applications of blended learning in the subjects are grouped in four themes. These educational themes are:

  • Online discussion and peer feedback
  • Formative tests and feedback
  • Activating students with interim assignments or tests
  • Knowledge transfer of contact hours to self-study time

Blended learning resulted in various ways of intensifying education. Most of these ways meant that students were studying regularly and were challenged to engage actively with the subject matter. The greatest return according to the participants in the program is that blended learning leads to more depth during contact moments.'

Blended learning as a means

'Blended learning is not an end in itself, but can be used as a solution. In the process, teachers thought carefully about the room for improvement they encountered in teaching their subject. For example, the teachers use online feedback moments more frequently, with generic feedback taking place during lectures or changing the lecture based on online input.'

Successful implementation

'To implement blended learning successfully in a study programme, it is important to create support; in addition, teachers and students need to realise the benefit of blended learning. This can be achieved by sharing best practices with each other. In addition, teachers must be able to rely on good and prompt (technical) support.'

The preconditions for successful implementation of blended learning:

  • Link online learning activities with learning activities during contact moments;
  • Connect blended learning directly to improvement points that teachers see for their education;
  • Formulate clear training goals for a team of teachers to get to work with;
  • Give teachers sufficient time to develop blended learning;
  • Provide teachers with good guidance and organizing training;
  • Organize knowledge exchange for teachers, training managers and support staff;
  • Make an overview of the forms of blended learning that have been or are being developed and regularly evaluate their use.