Sorry! De informatie die je zoekt, is enkel beschikbaar in het Engels.
This programme is saved in My Study Choice.
Something went wrong with processing the request.
Something went wrong with processing the request.

Noëlle Swaan on Active Blended Learning at the Faculty of Humanities

Noëlle Swaan is an experienced policy expert who has been working at VU Amsterdam for almost 15 years. She has worked several years at the Faculty of Law as a policy maker and later switched to the Faculty of Humanities where she currently serves as the head of the policy department. With her team, consisting of policy makers and learning technologists, Noëlle works on developing policies and improving Active Blended Learning (ABL) based education.

Noëlle is particularly passionate about the university's small-scale programmes, having studied French at the faculty herself. We interviewed Noëlle Swaan for our series on Active Blended Learning for this edition of the Education on Course newsletter.

How do you implement Active Blended Learning in your policies and in your work?  
My team consists of policy makers and learning technologists. Together, we work on different projects whereof one is ABL. I am in direct contact with the faculty board, which supports us in implementing our vision of ABL at the faculty. My job is to organize the structure, so, I take care of the administrative side of implementing this vision. For us, it is really important not to just decide on policies and order their implementation. Rather, we focus on every program specifically. As the faculty is very diverse, we run a portfolio analysis for each programme to see what is needed, what the programme requires, and what its ambitions are. We then adapt the program’s ABL curriculum accordingly, so it is custom-made. This is a very large part of the work we are doing at this moment. It consists of looking at each programme and analyzing where we can find opportunities in ABL.  

On the other hand, we have our learning technologists who are working on the floor with the teachers every day and help them with their ABL methods and tasks. They have a lot of expertise. They can advise teachers about didactics, tools, and about working with a digital environment like Canvas. Overall, the learning technologists help teachers with any questions they have.  

How would you describe the teachers’ attitudes toward working with ABL? 
Most of our classes at the faculty are small scale. So the teachers have very intensive contact with students already and that makes it easier for them to have a very active interaction with the students. The use of digital tools varies per programme. 

Some of the teachers are surprisingly advanced in using different kinds of tools. To give feedback to students, they use different kinds of tools, such as FeedbackFruits. They also make knowledge clips to give more information about certain topics, so they are very active already. Also,it’s about collaboration. The VU has a clear vision about ABL, and teachers are well informed about it, which is helpful. My team has good contact with VU colleagues, to stay updated and get well informed. I am also very excited about the plans to create the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the VU. Having one place that connects everyone involved in education and where teachers can go for advice on how to implement ABL is very helpful. 

How would you say students benefit from active blended learning?  
One example would be in programmes that have a lot of papers. Being able to receive feedback digitally and automatically through various tools provides the opportunity to do it more often and it is very beneficial for students. Furthermore, in the arts programmes, during Covid, they started making digital flashcards to do arts exercises. So, those kinds of things are very helpful for students. 

What would you say has been the biggest difficulty so far? 
It is sometimes difficult to find out what teachers are actually doing in the classroom. I know a lot of teachers, I talk to them, but it would be helpful if they share more about what they are doing, it might help to inspire others. They are working so hard on their programmes, and they are always busy, which is inspiring of course, so it would be great to be able to share their progress with teachers of the other programmes, as well. 

This is also one of the reasons why we do the analysis of the portfolio, to see where we can find some time to do innovation. Because they really want to, but sometimes they just don't have time for it. Sometimes, I feel a bit guilty asking them.  

What are you the most proud of?
I think I'm proud of the teachers, and how they manage to give such attention to teaching. One example is that we have already had two internal discussions about ChatGPT, and then I heard that some teachers already adapted their programme and use ChatGPT in their courses to show students how to work with it to educate them about it. 

I was surprised about how advanced and how up-to-date they are in their teaching. So, that makes me really proud.