Blended Learning for quality higher education: Introducing a new self-assessment tool for Asia-Pacific
Blended learning – the deliberate combination of online learning with face-to-face classroom-based learning – is opening new educational opportunities for students across the Asia-Pacific.
With generous support from the Shenzhen Funds-in-Trust, UNESCO Bangkok developed a new online self-assessment tool for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to enhance their understanding of blended learning and promote the quality of higher education in the Asia-Pacific.
University staff can evaluate their institution’s approach to blended learning, identify gaps and improve blended learning strategies. The self-assessment tool is an important means to promote a more holistic approach to blended learning throughout the region. A customized report with recommended resources will be provided upon completion of the self-assessment.
The new self-assessment tool is based on a UNESCO publication with the Faculty of Education and Human Development at the Education University of Hong Kong and the experiences of two universities in Cambodia and Sri Lanka. The original book and case studies can be downloaded here: Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education. The Appendix includes additional details about the institutional self-assessment tool, including level descriptors.
Blended Learning for Quality Higher Education:
Interview with Professor LIM Cher Ping
Professor Lim is a Chair Professor of Learning Technologies and Innovation, The Education University of Hong Kong, SAR China & Visiting Professor, Center of Higher Education Research, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), Shenzhen, China
UNESCO: Professor Lim, for people who aren’t experts in the field, can you describe what blended learning is and the transformative potential of integrating ICT into higher education systems?
Blended learning mixes and matches online and face-to-face learning to optimize the learning experiences and engagement of students. Online learning empowers students to monitor and manage their own learning; competencies that are pertinent to be lifelong learners. By supplementing face-to-face lessons with quality online learning, blended learning provides access to quality higher education to rural and marginalized communities.
Can you give examples about learners who would benefit most from blended learning?
The Faculty of Education and Human Development at the Education University of Hong Kong worked with the Directorate General of Higher Education (Cambodia) and UNESCO (Bangkok) to close the urban-rural quality gap of higher education teaching and learning by adopting the blended learning approach. Quality online learning resources and lessons were co-developed by the urban university (Royal University of Phnom Penh) with input from the two provincial universities (Svay Reing University and University of Battambang). These quality online learning resources and lessons supported the face-to-face lessons to enhance the access to quality higher education teaching and learning of the provincial universities in the rural areas of Cambodia. In this example, the students from both urban and rural universities who are the main beneficiaries of blended learning benefited the most. The co-design and development of the online learning resources and lessons built the capacity of the teaching staff for teaching and learning.
What is the significance of UNESCO’s new Blended Learning Self-Assessment Tool for higher education institutions to plan and implement blended learning?
The new Blended Learning Self-Assessment Tool sends a loud and clear message to higher education institutions that introducing an innovation into an institution requires a systemic change; a holistic approach towards strategic planning is crucial to enhance access to quality higher education. It is only when such an approach is adopted that the potential of blended learning for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) is more likely to be fulfilled.
Do you have any suggestions to share with the users to make good use of the book and online tool?
The book and the online tool serve as a set of guidelines, promising practices and lessons learnt rather than a set of prescriptions for strategic planning. The book and the online tool should not be restricted to only the institutional leaders, they must be available and accessible to all staff members to establish buy-in to the strategic plan being formulated.
UNESCO Bangkok welcomes your feedback or questions about the new tool and publication on blended learning for quality higher education in Asia-Pacific: firstname.lastname@example.org.