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Active Blended Learning - VU-wide approach 2021-2024

Last updated on 24 September 2021
Active blended learning at VU Amsterdam means that the learning process and the development of the student take centre stage. Active learning is one of the design principles of education at VU Amsterdam. A sustainable transition to active blended learning is a spearhead in the VU's strategy. Such a VU-wide transition will not come about automatically. How does VU Amsterdam approach this? Read all about it on this page.

Student learning process central

Active blended learning is one of the design principles in the VU Educational Vision. Active learning is about all educational activities that make students think for themselves, reason for themselves, formulate their own goals and arrive at their own solutions.

Active learning involves students in the learning process through a variety of teaching activities. It involves a combination of active, meaningful learning tasks in which students are challenged. An optimal mix of physical and online education contributes to active learning. For example, by using online knowledge clips, physical teacing can go into the subject in greater depth. In this way, online and on-campus teaching methods reinforce each other and the teaching is increasingly tailored to the personal learning wishes of students.

Transition to active blended learning as a logical consequence of the corona crisis

Active blended learning is not a new concept. However, with the corona crisis, technological developments have accelerated and the skills of teachers have grown and perspectives on education have changed.

VU Amsterdam has considered the question of which elements for the education of the future should be retained for VU teaching and learning and which should not. Two important conclusions have been drawn from this.

VU Amsterdam is a Campus university: connectedness is key

The first conclusion is that it is necessary to meet physically for academic growth and bonding. The campus is an added value. VU Amsterdam must make good use of the opportunities to meet each other.  This means that teaching and learning primarily takes place - and is timetabled - on the VU campus. In small and large classrooms, in lecture halls, in practical halls and in examination rooms.

Digital and online: where it adds value

This does not mean that there cannot be online components in education. Quite the contrary. In modern thinking on education, the subject matter is applied and deepened during teaching sessions on the campus. This requires students to prepare or process the material as well as possible, individually or in groups.

Digital and online tools are extremely suitable for this purpose: for learning material via digital sources such as knowledge clips and online books, for working on tasks and products, for collaboration, for sharing knowledge, for submitting assignments and for giving and receiving feedback. In VU education, digital and online resources should be fully exploited for that purpose.

But in several cases, it is also a good idea to organise online meetings with Zoom or MSTeams where this is useful. For example, to make it easier for guest lecturers from outside to contribute to the teaching or for Q&A sessions (response lectures).

A VU-wide approach

In order to make these two conclusions widely applicable at VU , VU Amsterdam has opted for a VU-wide approach for the period 2021-2024.

Strategie-aanpak transitie naar activerend blended onderwijs

  • University and faculty goals

    Firstly, the faculties have committed themselves to formulating goals on how and to what extent they want to give active blended learning a place in their curricula and courses. These goals are monitored annually.

  • Resources

    Secondly, by making substantial funds from the VU Quality Plan and Central Policy Resources available to the faculties. With this, the faculties can give an impulse to the establishment of faculty support teams to help teachers transform their teaching.

  • Knowledge-sharing

    Thirdly, by sharing knowledge centrally via inter-faculty support networks and inter-faculty innovation networks. This takes place via thet VU Network for Teaching and Learning and LEARN!Academy.

  • Support for digital tools

    Fourthly, to investigate the wishes of the faculties regarding the desired digital tools within the digitale learning environment. In this way, it may be possible to license and manage them according to legal standards for procurement, privacy and security not only at the faculty level, but also at the institution level.

  • Development of the built environment

    Ten vijfde door de gebouwde omgeving van de VU steeds beter in te richten voor flexibel gebruik van ruimtes om activerend blended onderwijs te ondersteunen. Het gaat daarbij bijvoorbeeld om het zorgen dat een docent tijdens het lesgeven snel kan wisselen tussen frontaal lesgeven en studenten in groepjes laten werken. Maar ook om colleges op te kunnen nemen of zelfs hybride uit te voeren. Ook het zorgen voor voldoende zelfstudieruimte op de VU voor studenten hoort daarbij.

    Fifthly, by making VU's built environment increasingly suitable for flexible use of spaces in order to support active blended learning. This involves, for example, ensuring that an instructor can quickly switch between frontal teaching and allowing students to work in groups. But also so that lectures can be recorded or even performed in a hybrid form. It also involves ensuring that there is sufficient room for students to study at VU Amsterdam.

  • Contact

    The project Sustainable transition to active, blended learning (pABO) is part of the activities of the VU Strategy Group under the leadership of Erna Klein Ikkink. The pABO project is led by Lisa Sipma.

    The Teacher Professionalisation and Innovation Steering Group directs the development of the central components of the project. The secretary of this Steering Committee is Silvester Draaijer.

    The programme management of the Quality plan monitors the progress of the project in terms of achieving the objectives. The programme manager is Floor Elsenburg.

    The various people responsible keep in close contact with each other.

Animation Active Blended Learning

This animation gives a bird's eye view of what active blended learning entails for VU Amsterdam.