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Kim Hovestad

UTeachers' Academy offers new workflow for Blended Learning

The UTeachers’ Academy, a network of ten teachers from the Faculty of EEMCS, is calling for a professional team approach to course design to make managing Blended Learning more practical for all teachers.

Blended Learning is all about the mix of education, from regular in-class to remote learning, from on-campus to at-home. The teachers of the UTeachers’ Academy aim for a radical change in workflow.

The great interest in the Blended Learning Market of 30 November last year proved that there is a rise in attention for Blended Learning within the UT. The column of EEMCS teacher Femke Nijboer from November 2022 also shows that Blended Learning can create challenges. Time for action, according to the UTeachers’ Academy.

Blended Learning

“Blended Learning course designs are well researched and, at UT, we have all the means to create them. We can offer our students engaging courses with a healthy mixture of effective interesting activities, online and on-campus according to Tracy Craig of the UTeachers Academy. By fully incorporating Blended Learning, we can offer a wide array of varied courses, with weekly assignments, collaboration and discussion, and diagnostic self-testing with immediate feedback.

What is needed for blended learning

Looking for a new approach

A successful way of Blended Learning requires teachers to have a lot of expertise in different areas, such as pedagogy, EdTech and keeping track of all the Blended Course’s activities. Teachers, however, often don't have such expertise, they are mainly experts in the content. 

An honest self-profile of teacher's expertise

To accommodate this, the UT does offer support to teachers, as long as they seek it themselves. This represents a bottleneck, as teachers already face a very high workload. 

Current support for teachers

Teacher often end up doing the work, for which support is available, often thinking, ‘I’d better do it myself, this is the fastest way to get it done’. However, even if some teachers are skilled in online tools or organisation, it does not mean that they like it or should do it.

Dr Maurice van Keulen

According to the UTeachers’ Academy, it is not at all realistic to train teachers to perform all required tasks for modern blended courses. But what do they propose as a solution? Simply put: teamwork. An approach reinforced by the words of Blended Learning expert Barend Last, who states in his 2021 LinkedIn post ‘Is “To blend, or not to blend?” de juiste vraag?’ that: ‘we need to recognise that the role of teachers has long since changed, and explore whether all these roles can still be captured in one person. Perhaps working in teams, with teachers, designers, technicians, and so on, is a better approach'.

Radical change in workflow

Teaching teams

The UTeachers Academy suggests a radical change in workflow, in their position paper. In this new workflow, each course is developed and run by a team. The teacher defines the learning goals and carries out the educational activities. Both the teacher and the instructional designer are responsible for the course design. The implementation of EdTech is the instructional designer’s responsibility. And in larger courses, a manager organises the team’s activities and reporting.

Teaching teams

Nelly Litvak, 2022’s winner of the UT Teaching Award, and one of the UTeachers Academy members, is already trying out this approach in her courses and has initiated a broader pilot for the faculty of EEMCS. She believes that it is very important to realise that university teachers are trained scientists and content experts. We can't and should not expect them to be experts in pedagogy and Edtech. She strongly believes that a team approach is the only realistic way to implement high-quality blended learning. Prof dr Marieke Huisman, Department Chair of Computer Science joins Nelly during this pilot.

I’m very enthusiastic about the idea of teaching teams. I believe the setup of a teaching team will help the people in the Computer Science department to teach their favourite subjects in an effective manner, while at the same time making the students excited about the topic.

Prof dr Marieke Huisman - Department Chair Computer Science

About the UTeachers Academy

Ten teachers from several educational programmes of the EEMCS faculty are actively participating in this network. Among other things the network develops hands-on sessions and presentations about educational innovations, ICT tools, working methods, innovative testing. Other activities include organizing discussion sessions about educational topics during internal meetings, and plenary hands-on sessions for all EEMCS employees. All participants are working on a specific topic in smaller groups. These smaller groups consist UTeachers’ Academy participants, but they can also be joined by other EEMCS employees.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about the UTeachers Academy proposition on Blended Learning within the UT, feel free to download their position paper below.

Want to know more about the UTeachers' Academy or get in touch with one of its members?
Visit the UTeachers website