European Maturity model for Blended Education (EMBED 2017-2020)
Higher education institutions (HEIs) are challenged to maintain quality and innovative education for large student numbers while working with lower budgets, and to accommodate the needs of a great variety of learners. As a consequence, new course and programme delivery modes emerge at universities. Since the turn of the century, convergent formats of online and onsite teaching and learning have received increased attention and more and more these will become the most common approaches in higher education (HE) (Daniel & Uvali-Trumbi, 2016). Several scholars reported that such blends lead to better student experiences, higher efficiency and offer opportunities for more personalised and inclusive HE. Furthermore, they seem to be suitable for teaching large groups (a)synchronously and organize mobile or multi-campus HE (Sitzmann, Kraiger, Stewart, & Wisher, 2006; Laurillard, 2015).
The EMBED project partnership is established by EADTU (coordinator), connecting KU Leuven (Belgium), Delft University (The Netherlands), Aarhus University (Denmark), University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), Dublin City University (Ireland) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland).
During a period of three years (2017-2020) experts in the field of quality assurance, online and blended learning work closely together to achieve different objectives related to the introduction and sustainable implementation of Blended Education.
The project partners embrace a multilevel framework in order to tackle conceptual and implementation issues at the course level (micro), at the strategic level (meso) and with the intent to give relevant input to governmental policy (macro).
The main outcomes of the first phase of the EMBED project concern the conceptual framework which delineates the focus and scope of the multilevel maturity model, and the monitor. Both were developed on the basis of a literature review, expert reviews, a websurvey followed by in-depth interviews in each partner university. The framework is built around a consistent terminology and well-demarcated (operational) concepts. This will allow researchers, practitioners and policymakers to talk common language and assess blended education in a more systematic, comprehensive manner.
The monitor is conceived as a multilayered instrument with dimensions and indicators that where newly developed or adapted from previously validated instruments. Its goal is to grasp in detail practices and conditions for blended learning. All instruments are piloted across different institutions, programmes and courses.