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The 2nd EXPERT MEETING for “Building the Capacity of Higher Education Institutions in Asia-Pacific for Blended Learning to Enhance Student Engagement and Outcomes” Project

The 2nd EXPERT MEETING for “Building the Capacity of Higher Education Institutions in Asia-Pacific for Blended Learning to Enhance Student Engagement and Outcomes” Project - 2-3 May 2016
Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development, UNESCO Bangkok, 920 Sukhumvit Road, Phrakanong, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

2-3 May 2016   |    Bangkok, Thailand

UNESCO Bangkok hosted the 2nd Expert Meeting on Blended Learning as part of the project, “Building the Capacity of Higher Education Institutions in Asia-Pacific for Blended Learning to Enhance Student Engagement and Outcomes” on 2-3 May 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. Based on case studies conducted in 2015, a new toolkit is being developed to support self-assessment and capacity building efforts in blended learning for high education institutions throughout the region.

Overview

Over the past ten years, rapid advancement of technologies and their ubiquitous use in our daily lives have dramatically changed the way knowledge is created, constructed, distributed, and disseminated. Since students are expected to be highly competent in technology-rich environments, blended learning – the deliberate combination of online learning with face-to-face classroom-based learning – provides higher education institutions with an opportunity to help students build the 21st century skills. While many of the advantages of blended learning are well established, its adoption in practice can pose enormous challenges for higher education institutions, especially in terms of sustainability and scalability.

To address these challenges, UNESCO Bangkok in partnership with the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) launched a two-year project to help build the capacity of higher education institutions for blended learning to enhance student engagement and outcomes. As an outcome of the first Expert Meeting held on 3-5 June 2015 at HKIEd, a common framework was developed and refined for higher education institutions to document their existing experiences in formulating and implementing a holistic blended learning approach. 

This framework is part of a planned publication that incorporates case studies on effective blended learning practices from leading higher education institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to the framework developed and the experiences and promising practices documented in the case studies, the project also aims to develop a toolkit with self-assessment rubrics and hands-on resources that supports higher education institutions to sustain and scale up innovative blended learning practices. In order to achieve this, an expert meeting was organized by UNESCO Bangkok and HKIEd from 2-3 May 2016.

2nd Expert Meeting on Blended Learning

To launch the expert meeting, Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok, highlighted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by UN Member States, including SDG 4, also known as Education 2030, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Mr. Kim proposed that the toolkit should focus on end-users to increase its relevance, as well as the capacity building needs at both system and institutional levels throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Libing Wang, Chief of Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development (EISD) at UNESCO Bangkok, also said that the use of blended learning is of fundamental importance for effective teaching and learning at all levels, especially in higher education. Mr. Wang highlighted access, quality and institutional governance as the three core dimensions of effective blended learning policies and practices.

During the meeting, experts from six universities and five countries reflected on the case studies developed and submitted by the participating higher education institutions, discussed the structure and content of the proposed toolkit and resources for higher education institutions in Asia-Pacific, and agreed on a plan to follow up with the revision and further consolidation of the draft toolkit. Dissemination strategies of the proposed toolkit for capacity building were also discussed.

Professor Cher Ping Lim of HKIEd, one of the co-authors of the draft toolkit summarized the meeting: “Compared with the first meeting focusing on the framework and case studies, the second focused on the development of the toolkit,” he said, “with the support and commitment of our partner institutions, the toolkit will support the leaders of higher education institutions in Asia-Pacific to revisit and refine their strategic planning around blended learning.” The draft is currently under revision with an updated version expected in late 2016.

Resource: Concept Note

Those who are interested in joining the follow-up activities may send email to Mr. Libing Wang (l.wang@unesco.org), Chief of Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development (EISD), UNESCO Bangkok to explore partnership opportunities or capacity building needs related to blended learning in higher education.