Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Quality of instruction in open online education

Open online education has become a highly popular method of education. The current project aims to further our knowledge of how open online courses can be best designed to be consistent with human learning mechanics and facilitate meaningful learning.

2015 - 2019


  • Tim van der Zee MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. W.F. Admiraal - supervisor
  • prof.dr. G.W.C. Paas - co-supervisor
  • dr. N. Saab - co-supervisor
  • dr. B. Giesbers - co-supervisor

Project description

Open online learning in higher education has quickly gained popularity, expanded, and evolved. As in all forms of education, it is essential for online education to enhance and assure quality.

In order to promote meaningful learning a teacher should employ educational strategies which are consistent with cognitive learning mechanisms. These stable human learning mechanisms exist not in a vacuum but act within a certain critical context. Consequently, when evaluating evidence for how to effectively design instruction to facilitate learning the question is not ‘does this work?’ but rather ‘for whom and in what context does this have an impact?’, ‘to what extent and duration?’ and ‘what are the relevant mechanisms?’. These will be the leading questions for the current project.

The main unit of analysis will be study objects such as texts, videos and interactive elements frequently used in open online education.

The main purpose of the project is to identify the core active ingredients of instructional study objects and get a better understanding of how, for whom and in what context they have an impact on learning such that open online education can be further improved. 

Foto: Andersen Ross / Blend / Learning Pictures / Universal Images Group

This project is part of the Centre for Education and Learning (CEL) of the Strategic Alliance of Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam .

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