Is blended learning in a lifelong learning context effective?

Introduction:

Professional Learning & Development (PLD) is part of the University of Twente. They offer full master programs (parttime), masterclasses, incompany trajectories and short courses in the field of Public Management and Riskmanagement.

This redesign trajectory, was the first blended experience for PLD and is executed in cooperation with the TELT department from April 2016 till April 2017.

Design phase:

 Used principles:

•Mix of different didactical methods and different delivery formats (Kerresand De Witt, 2003)

•Variety in synchronous and a-synchronous (Piskurich, 2006) learning activities.

•Different delivery formats like face to face, video, text or images.

•Design in close collaboration with educational consultants and teacher

•Together with the management of PLD we set up the general design guidelines

 Course level design:

•Rapid prototyping

•Based upon curricular spiderwebof Van den Akker(2003).

•Week structure and defined for each week the learning objectives.

•For each learning objective we described content, learning activities, resources, environment, grouping, time, assessment and role of the teacher. 

Development phase:

In the development phase we developed the learning activities. The video-activities were developed in close collaboration. The other learning activities were mainly executed by the lead teacher and guest speakers.

In the development phase we also set up the learning environment. The educational consultants set up the course.

The masterclass Riskmanagement in the public sector is a 10-week program for 5EC. Several years it has been a face to face program with meetings on each Friday. To meet the needs from professional part time learners and to make the masterclass sustainable for the upcoming years, the masterclass is redesigned to a blended format.

 Students and teachers were satisfied with the design of the course:

  • The course met their expectations (av. 4.6 out of 5, n=11).
  • The variety in learning activities was fine (av. 3.9 out of 5, n=11). 

Lessons learned:

  • A high variety of learning activities is appreciated by participants.
  • Make clear arrangements with the stakeholders about the planning, the responsibilities and the way of communication. Define backups for the most important stakeholders.
  • Choose a webinar-activity only when it’s suitable for the learning objective and prepare them well.
  • Take care of cohesion between online learning and face to face meetings.
  • Spend attention (by coaching, workshops, etc.) to all involved teachers, especially when the teacher isn’t familiar with blended learning.
  • Do a testrunwith all roles on different devices

Points of improvement:

  •  Improve the interactivity in the course
  • Improve the cohesion between online learning and the face to face meetings. So that the online component becomes a natural extension of traditional classroom learning as described by Collis and Moonen(2001).
  • We could improve the analysis phase next time by doing a more in depth analysis of the current situation and the multiple stakeholders who were involved in the design and development process. Also we would like to send a questionnaire to the potential participants to meet their expectations. 

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