Between July 13th and July 15th 2016 the Higher Education Conference took place in Amsterdam. It was a combination of the Special Interest Group on Higher Education of EARLI and the EERA Higher Education Network.
Two paper sessions dealt explicitly with blended and online education. It started with a seemingly promising contribution on MOOCs as a challenge for higher education. Jens Riehemann of the University of Muenster explained his research that focused on reducing the feeling of being one among many others in a virtual crowd as a way to enhance participation. Unfortunately he did not use a real MOOC to investigate this issue but provided students with paper vignettes. A second contribution of Hofmeister (University of Liverpool) questioned the further rubrication of learning outcomes. It was plea for reflective learning tasks that suggest open intersubjective educational relationships . Although not on online learning, the contribution on e-mobility (electrical mobility) of Antje Schilling (TU Braunschweig) provided an interesting design of learning environments. Round tables were uses in a course where 3 to 5 students from different fields of study collaborated on the same project.
A number of contributions also addressed self regulation of students. This is particularly interesting given that in PBL an appeal is made to these skills, especially during the self-study phase. Nynke Bos (University of Amsterdam) looked at the relationship between the use of (digital) learning resources, regulation strategies and course performance in a blended learning environment.
Daniëlle Verstegen organized a symposium on MOOCs in which we presented our experiences with the PBL MOOC at Maastricht University. Allison Littlejohn (Open University UK) talked about her review of the instructional design of 76 MOOCs and to what extent the first principles of Merrils could be found. The analysis was used to define learning opportunities for Open University Learners. Allison participated through skype to this symposium and to our own surprise she was even able to fully participate in the discussion! Peter van Rosmalen (Open University the Netherlands) talked about scalability of support and how to design a high quality learning experience given the scale of a MOOC. Fred Truyen ( University of Leuven) made sure we had an intensive discussion!