Point 06: Prioritising creativity and innovation in teaching and research

There have been a number of developments relating to blended learning, flexible learning and the evaluation of study success.

Blended learning

In October 2015, the Educational Innovation/Blended Learning task force issued its Blend IT & Share IT advisory report on implementing blended curricula at the UvA. The key question with regard to blended learning is how new combinations of online and offline learning activities can help improve the quality, flexibility and accessibility of teaching. The report was subsequently distributed within the UvA as a green paper and submitted for comment to the academic community. The report met with an overwhelming response. Based on all of this input, a definitive action plan was drawn up which is currently being implemented. 

In the spring of 2017, an important first step will be for the faculties to develop their own strategies and indicate how blended learning can be sustainably embedded. Also in 2017, a knowledge centre (BLIST) will be developed to support the faculties during the development and implementation stages. In addition, seminars will be organised, a website will be developed containing blended-learning tools and other resources, and research will be initiated from within the knowledge centre. Advice will also be formulated on Open Educational Resources and on the consequences that blended learning will have on the concept of contact time.

New vision on teaching and learning

The connection between and the appreciation of teaching and research is also reflected in the new vision on teaching and learning, which will be developed in 2017. The current vision on teaching and learning dates back to 2012. Together with a working group, the Rector Magnificus is exploring which subjects must be included in the new vision and which dilemmas the vision on teaching and learning should help resolve. In order to gain input from the organisation, the working group distributed a questionnaire at the beginning of 2017. The Rector will also visit all of the faculties to gain further input. The results will be discussed with parties such as the University Committee on Education, the representative advisory bodies and via round-table discussions within the faculties. Employees and students will also have a right of reply via the new interactive web page. The content of the vision on teaching and learning is an agenda point for the education conference on 31 May 2017, and the first draft of the vision will be formulated in the summer of 2017.

Evaluation of study success

In recent years, the UvA has invested significantly in improving study success. In 2017, the Executive Board’s University Committee on Education received a request to set up a working group for an evaluation and to examine whether the recommendations from 2009 have helped to improve the quality of degree programme teaching. In spring 2016, the Study Success Task Force 2.0 was set up, led by Lucy Wenting, and a huge number of programme directors and Boards of Study have assisted the task force in their duties. All of the responses will be analysed in order to paint a picture of people’s experiences with the recommendations across the entire UvA. Finally, a literature study will be conducted to give points of reference and support regarding timetabling, curriculum development, professionalisation of teaching, motivation and assessment.

Flexible learning

Following approval by the Central Student Council, the UvA has filed an application for a flexible learning pilot with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Flexible learning gives students more flexibility in structuring their studies, requiring them to pay only for the courses for which they actually register. The Central Student Council agreed to the pilot on the condition that the Boards of Study of the programmes in question are also in favour of them. By mid-March, the UvA hopes to have an answer from the Ministry regarding whether students will be able to take part in the pilot in the 2017-2018 academic year. By taking part in the pilot, the Executive Board hopes to be able to accommodate students who are not well-served by the study pace of the fixed full-time curricula. The flexible learning pilot is an initiative of the National Student Union (LSVb) and the two government coalition parties, the VVD and PvdA.

Published by  University of Amsterdam

14 March 2017