"We still know too little about effective blended education"
To celebrate the launch of the new Acceleration Plan website, we did a series of interviews with members of the Acceleration Plan about their experiences in higher education. Today: Luuk Terbeek.
Coaching lecturers in making online and blended education gives education advisor Luuk Terbeek so much energy that he has “enough for a few more live times”. In his ideal world, much more good research is available on educational innovation with ICT.
What does your job entail?
“I work as an educational advisor at VU University Amsterdam, but I am also a teacher-trainer and researcher. In my role as teacher-trainer, I see myself as a coach for teams of lecturer, helping them to realise effective online and blended learning programmes. For my PhD research I did a literature study into the effectiveness of blended learning and I am currently conducting evaluations and effect measurements of several VU-wide programmes.”
Is that why you are a member of the zone Evidence-informed? You could also have been in the zone Professional development.
“That’s true, there is a close relationship between the two zones. In consultation with a sounding board, our zone will soon be developing an evidence-informed blended learning design course. This sounding board should at least include members of the zone Professional development.
The online course we are developing will be available from next year for every Dutch higher education institution. Individual modules can easily be used in addition to your own institution-wide programmes. That is useful: you have to arrange BKO [University Teaching Qualification (UTQ)] and BDB [Basic Qualification Didactical Competence] in such a way that the lecturers experience the power and quality of blended learning first hand.”
Why is it still called blended education?
“As long as we as educational institutions fail to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the use of ICT in educational innovation, I think we should definitely continue to use that term. Frankly, I expect that to be the case for the next five to ten years. We still know so little. Even studies that really matter have been carried out among few participants. There is an enormous urgency for large-scale follow-up research, preferably in cross-institutional collaboration.”
What is the biggest misunderstanding about blended education?
“Sometimes people use the imagery of a blender in relation to blended education. In a blender you put some things together and it produces a kind of gunk. I prefer to use the image of a DJ’s mixer. The design of your education, the moment and the nature of your intervention, it is all customised. That requires turning the knobs and adjusting the sliders correctly.”
How did you get into education?
“I did PABO [pedagogical academy primary education] in the last century. As a trainee teacher, I developed an Internet course for children. I also had an e-mail project with a fellow student in Australia, for which I had to use the computer of our director, who had internet, ha ha. That project was so much fun! It showed me how much you can do with online education. After a few years in the IT sector, my desire for education started to itch again. I studied educational science and I got into the Dutch e-learning industry. Now, I have been working at VU University for five years.”
You are able make the comparison with the more commercial educational world.
“Yes, I am. I’m grateful for that, because I think that both worlds can learn a lot from each other. In higher education could move a little faster sometimes, while the business education world sometimes needs to be a little slower. In both worlds that balance sometimes is not what it should be. I’m trying to get both sectors to work together more.”
What do you hope your zone will achieve in four years?
“What I think would be great is if we can say: ‘these three interventions lead to an increase in learning yield and student motivation, against a reduction of costs, if you carry them out under these conditions.’ Think of interventions concerning cooperation and peer feedback. For that you cannot avoid conducting research. Research and education are not separate, but go hand in hand.”
Sometimes a beautifully composed educational design can give me goosebumps
The theme of this year’s education week was ‘the beauty of the profession.’ How do the goals of the zone make education more beautiful?
“I regularly review educational designs. In some cases I really get goosebumps from a beautiful composition, just as much as with Mahler’s Fifth. Thát’s what we’re talking about!”
Original text: Marjolein van Trigt