By Irina Karic
In partnership with lecturers from the four universities in Palestine (An-Najah National University, Al-Quds University, Birzeit University and Hebron University) participating in the capacity building project “Capacity Building in Higher Legal Education,” supported by NICHE, between March 24-26, 2017, Saxion University facilitated a three-day course about blended learning.
The course was provided in a blended form, combining online platforms and assessment tools, including Blackboard, Moodle, Socrative, Kahoot, Padlet, infographics and Mindmaps, with face-to-face methods, as a reflection of what usually occurs in reality. Using a continuous mix of theory of instructional design and practice, trainers Marrit Oost and William Sanchez, from Saxion University, offered a very pragmatic experience about how to get started with digital didactics that aim to enrich both student and lecturers’ learning.
In the training, lecturers were given the time and said resources to become acquainted with practical and varied uses of blended learning. While engaged in practice of applying new interactive tools, lecturers shared their personal opinions on expanding their teaching styles and methods to embrace more innovative approaches.
“First, I would like to thank William and Marrit. This was a rich and unique experience and the training was very flexible. I will use Socrative for quizzes, exams, and questions, as it is a helpful tool. I will also share this with my colleagues. We need extensive learning in this regard and learn how to produce these courses for our colleagues at other universities.” (Bilal, Hebron University)
Lecturers also acknowledged that the need to change and improve one’s teaching processes comes from within. As they become aware of the various possibilities of using concepts and methods of the study of systems for providing strategies that facilitate learning, lecturers expressed the need for further training and the exchange of experiences with other universities. Such interactions with diverse academic institutions, particularly with partner universities in Netherlands, will help expand and affect their own teaching approaches.
“This training was a unique experience. Your methods and styles need a follow up from trainers. We need continuous cooperation with universities in Netherlands and further training to monitor our progress. Also, we need to apply these platforms in our universities. I would like to utilize this training by applying it in some of my courses.” (Essa Manasra, Al Quds University)
Not only does it have a multitude of benefits for students, including expansion of their learning opportunities and individualized approach to content, blended learning also enables students to work on their own pace and in the comfort of their chosen environments. It also improves efficiency and it creates data for lecturers with which to measure student progress, thereby giving them the opportunity for continuous improvement of their content.