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Blended Education


A consensus is emerging that blended education, a term that embraces various combinations of classroom presence and online study, will become the most common approach to teaching and learning in higher education.

Technology is now widely accepted as a normal part of university education, by both students and teachers, and is seen by many as the solution to problems such as scaling up with limited funding. The adoption of MOOCs and fully online education by high-ranked universities has reduced the negative view of technology in higher education. To support these changes, most universities have “eLearning centres” of some kind, with professional “learning technologists/instructional designers” who work with teachers to create and deliver blended and fully online courses.

Meet our (EMBED) experts on blended education
George Ubachs, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), Chair

George Ubachs is Managing Director of EADTU, the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities. EADTU is Europe's institutional association of leading universities in online, open and flexible higher education, and is at the heart of the modernisation agenda of European universities. Growing from its eleven founding members in ten European nations, EADTU now has a membership of fifteen institutions and fourteen national associations across 25 nations. Its membership covers over 200 universities and around 3 million students. 

George Ubachs is responsible for the development and support of the EADTU network, policies and execution of its goals in online, open and flexible higher education. 

He is coordinator of international academic cooperation networks on networked curricula, virtual mobility and on business models for lifelong learning. He is further coordinator of the European MOOC Consortium (EMC), representing the Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) and the E-xcellence movement on quality assurance in online, open and flexible education. In this position, EADTU is leading the ICDE-UNESCO focal point for QA in online education for Europe. With the EMPOWERing universities network, EADTU represents some 80 experts that cover 12 specific fields of expertise related to online, open and flexible education. As coordinator of these networks he is working closely with the EUA, ENQA, ESU, ICDE and Unesco. 

Before joining EADTU in 2002, George Ubachs has been working on various European programmes in the public and private sector in the field of regional social economic developments and was coordinator of the European Network of E2C-Europe (Cities for Second Chance Schools). George Ubachs graduated at State University of Leiden and Erasmus University Rotterdam on Public Administration with specialization in European Integration. 

Christian Dalsgaard, Aarhus University

Christian Dalsgaard is Associate professor at Aarhus University. His area of research is online education, and his fields of expertise includes open and flexible education, OER and MOOCs, and blended education. 

He participated in the Online Education: Coronacrisis support webinar April 21st 2020.

Yi-Shan Tsai, Edinburgh University

My research focuses on advancing the understanding of socio-technical issues around the use of data and technology in education. I take a human-centred approach to investigating issues that arise when a technological innovation is operationalised in a complex educational system. My work has informed educational policy and strategy development in higher education, and the impact was acknowledged by the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) as the winner of the 2019 Best Research Project Award. I am a member of the EMBED project team (European Maturity model for Blended Education) and the lead educator of Making Blended Education Work (FutureLearn), which has provided professional development to thousands of learners around the world. I am currently an executive member at large of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). 

Katie Goeman, Katholieke University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Stephan Poelmans, Katholieke University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Willem van Valkenburg, Technical University Delft (TU Delft)
Mark Brown, Dublin City University (DCU)
Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Dublin City University (DCU)
Wiebe Dijkstra, TU Delft
Veerle van Rompaey, KU Leuven
Teija Lehto, Tampere University (TAMK)
Arne Kjaer, Aarhus University

EMPOWER offers

The past decade, blended education has received increased attention in educational settings, leading to diverse outcomes and sometimes conflicting terminology and boundaries. Existing b- learning frameworks and research instruments do not comply with scholars’, practitioners’ or policymakers’ needs. As such, the analysed international practices and case studies within (and outside) the European Union, are often incomparable and contingent upon the context of a particular institution, hindering the sharing of knowledge. A common ground of best practices and policies is needed for further cooperation, innovation and implementation. Especially now as many related initiatives are starting in several countries that could directly benefit from sharing expertise and proven practices within universities European-wide.   According to the EUA trend report on e-learning, 49% of European universities have already an institutional policy on e-learning as another 26% is thinking of developing one (EUA publication; E-learning in European Higher Education Institutions; EUA 2014).   

In order to improve educational quality, and a standardized approach, it is necessary to strengthen the cooperation and networking between expert organisations nationally as well as internationally at the European level. It is within this context that the expert pool on blended education wants operate and contribute to the creation of the multi-level monitor and implementation framework. A reference of educational innovation by blended education is especially needed knowing that most universities still consider online education as a (video) coverage of on-campus models of education. Only with a reference of quality online education we can guide universities in a full institutional adoption of technology supported teaching, with inclusion of the latest innovations in pedagogies and didactics. If not, European universities will miss an opportunity of thorough innovation and  restrict enhanced education by asynchronous online broadcasting. Except for being online, this is not much different from broadcasted education of the 70s.

The blended education expert pool supports and guides universities to build on latest research and innovations in the field and implements these within an institutional sustainable strategy. It supports risk management by using proven practices and change management by referring to (staff-) incentives and support structures that are actually working at frontrunner universities.