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Sunday, August 30, 2015

More work needed in blending online and onsite learning

"Although the traditional lecture hall is unlikely to ever disappear completely, it is increasingly being supplemented – and in some cases replaced – by technology. And while a combination of both online and onsite learning as a teaching means is proving successful, more work is needed for this combination to truly internationalise the global learning experience." writes Peta Lee, Feature writer for international website University World News.


The digital revolution has turned conventional teaching and studying on its head, affecting students, academics and campuses worldwide.

The role of digital learning is analysed in Internationalisation of Higher Education, a study focusing on 10 countries from within Europe and seven from without, commissioned by the European Parliament committee on culture and education.

Europe lagging
Despite the MOOCs – massive open online courses – revolution three years ago opening up new vistas in the fields of digital teaching and learning, Europe is still lagging slightly in the digital revolution.

However, it has the capability to find new avenues for improving quality and access to higher education, said the study’s authors: Hans de Wit and Fiona Hunter of the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation, Laura Howard of the European Association for International Education, and Eva Egron-Polak of the International Association of Universities.

More emphasis is needed on digital and blended learning “as instruments to complement the internationalisation of higher education, not only through MOOCs but also through virtual exchange and collaborative online international learning”.

Generally, the role of European higher education institutions in the digital disruption of education has been erratic.

An exception is Spain's Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, or UOC, which since 1995 has offered 100% online degrees, while the University of Tübingen in Germany may have actually started the OpenCourseWare movement by publishing videos of lectures online in 1999 – three years before MIT in the US.

The study found that while most countries’ national strategies for internationalisation revolved around physical mobility, short- and long-term economic gains, recruitment-training of students and staff and international reputation, attention should focus more on curriculum and learning outcomes.

Blending provision
For most higher education institutions, internationalisation is about mobility (and targets), internationalising the campus at home, and “preparing graduates for a global market of products, services and ideas”.

Innovations in digital learning would have a direct bearing on how this is achieved. Many academic experts see MOOCs “as a potential enhancement to traditional forms of pedagogy, not as a replacement or even a successor stage”.

The study says that most MOOC experimentation points towards blended provision, but that was already happening before MOOC mania: in autumn 2011, 32% of students in the United States took at least one online course.

Through blended learning, higher education institutions can brace themselves for the future.

Studies in Britain and America prove that students actually prefer blended learning to purely face-to-face or solely online study, so the most successful online offerings must find ways to include community and social interaction, and consistent faculty-student engagement. UOC and the London-based FutureLearn platform are examples.
Read more... 

Additional resources 
The Temporal Perspective in Higher Education Learners: Comparisons between Online and Onsite Learning

Higher Education increases flexibility with online learning solutions. Nevertheless, dropout rates in online university are large. Among the reasons, one aspect deserving further study is students’ Time Perspective (TP), which has been studied in onsite HE... 
Source: European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning 

Source: University World News

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