IBLC11-Abstract-Finding the right mix? Teaching European studies through blended learning
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12 May 2011
Author: Ms Alexandra Mihai
This paper will be looking into the teaching method developed by the Institute for European Studies in Brussels, combining an e-learning tool- the E-modules- with face-to-face training sessions and webinars. The main aim is to analyse the three different components of this “blended learning” pedagogical approach, as well as the way they complement each other and to address a few of the challenges that have emerged from the experience of working with them so far. The E-modules are an e-learning platform that has been designed with the purpose of offering a structured and interactive way of learning how the European Union functions. As European law and policies exert an important influence in the everyday life of European citizens, the E-modules provide essential information about the European Union, helping, at the same time, the users to find their way through the complexity of existing information sources. The face-to-face training component currently takes the form of three days in-house seminars, covering in an intensive manner the most important areas of the curriculum. The lectures are held by a mix of academics and practitioners, ensuring a balanced approach, in which theory and practice come together to facilitate the learning experience. The third element of the “blended learning” method is placed in-between online and face-to-face learning: interactive seminars and debates are held online, giving the participants the chance to deepen their knowledge in certain fields of interest and to discuss the content of the course with specialists and among themselves. The mixture of delivery and interaction methods was chosen in order to accommodate a large variety of target groups, ranging from students to professionals working with EU-related issues, with different backgrounds and geographical origins. One of the main challenges is to use each medium for the functionalities it is best designed for and to ensure that the various pieces of the pedagogical puzzle fit together perfectly, while allowing the learners the flexibility that had initially directed them towards “blended learning” instead of a classical classroom approach.
Keywords: blended learning, e-learning, European Studies, social science