IMA/ZLW & IfU - RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 8788-8797
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0920
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Blended Learning (BL) describes a form of education, in which the advantages of classical lecturing are being combined with those of e-learning. It became a central topic especially for university education around ten years ago. BL enforces students’ active participation, interaction, interdisciplinary competences due to manifold topics, individuality as well as de-centralized learning. The multifaceted elements of BL seek to satisfy the students’ individual ways of thinking and personal learning preferences.

In the lecture “Communication and Organizational Development” (KOE) at RWTH Aachen University in Germany with around 1.600 participants, BL is practiced in the form of a Flipped-Classroom. The Flipped-Classroom elements inter alia include an online lecture, a discussion forum, which takes place in a physical lecture hall, expert inputs, an online platform to exchange study materials and communicate, a business simulation to dive deeper into the examined topics as well as an online examination system. The course is obligatory for Mechanical Engineering freshmen and constantly adapted in accordance with changing student preferences.

Due to the additional evaluation, which the parties in charge conduct on top of the usual evaluation of the course, students can give detailed feedback concerning which elements of the Flipped-Classroom they liked, which they did not like and what should be improved in the future.

The results showed a need of action concerning the timeliness of practical examples. Therefore, new, contemporary, content-related topics were to be identified. Furthermore, new industrial experts needed to be approached and invited in order to talk about these topics and elaborate the importance of given theories for actual practice.

In parallel, participants rated the group exercises as well as the inserted business simulation very positively. In both, a method mix is crucial. This means, that besides the examined content, the used method must be part of the educational process per se. However, it has been revealed that for students, besides good and concise stories, speakers and impressions, one element is most important: the enjoyment in learning.

This research paper seeks to reflect upon the lessons learned and future issues in terms of enhancing and conducting a ‘blended’ large class, based on the students’ quantitative and qualitative feedback analysis. What are the next logical steps?

At the same time, this work will provide insights into best practice examples on the question why BL should and must be tailor-made for the purposes of the respective institution, which wants to realize or seeks to improve it. It will shrink into details concerning BL opportunities, chances and pitfalls, so that the reader will get inspired on what might work at her institution, what might not and why, how much time and resources the implementation might take – and if applicable: how to continue from the status quo. It seeks to stress why one element must indeed be central to BL planning and execution: the enjoyment of working with and for students.
Blended Learning, Engineering Education, Flipped-Classroom, Large Class.