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Posted in September 2016

Quality Increase by reusing existing content

Being involved in open & online education has reignited the spark to improve learning for students in the oourses we offer on campus in many ways. Using existing materials developed by others is one of them. Here’s a story from Prof. dr. ir. Herman Russchenberg, who is involved in both a DelftX MOOC on Water and Climate and several campus courses, where he introduced the Flipped Classroom principle based on video’s developed for the MITx MOOC on Global Warming Science in the Master course on Climate Change: Science and Ethics.

Climate Change: Science and Ethics: A flipped approach

Prof. Russchenberg is about to offer the Master course in Climate Change: Science and Ethics in flipped format for the third time. The course used to be a course in the traditional lecture model: students were asked to prepare for their lectures and the full contact time was used by offering traditional lectures, offered by the professor. However, students did not seem to prepare very well. And the hours on which the course was taught, were not very stimulating either. The combination lead to students staying away from the lectures.

‘In the time where we were developing the MOOC on Water and Climate, we decided to change the course setup. We applied the Flip the classroom model, where students needed to prepare before class starts and we applied more interactive elements in the contact hours’, Prof. Russchenberg mentions.

‘In preparation for the Water & Climate MOOC I was looking for MOOCs already offered on the subject and I stumbled upon a MOOC offered by MITx on Global Warming. The video’s offered there were not immediately useful for the MOOC we were creating, but I remembered the video’s. And in redesigning the master course we decided to use some of these video’s. Students need to study the video’s before class. In class, we would not repeat the contents, but only spend time on the ‘white spots’, to explain on the connection between the MITx video’s and the context of our course. After that we used FeedbackFruits <https://feedbackfruits.com/> to stimulate active discussions and interaction with peers to process the contents on a deeper level and have side discussions as well. This new setup really led to a more engaging atmosphere.’

Besides the flipped setup, students also need to do practical work in the course. This practical work involves modeling with an online tool, with which you can model the impact of climate elements on earth. First students discuss what they expect to happen when a certain intervention is applied, asking students to actively process the theory they studied. Later, the assumptions were tested by using the tool to model the problem, and results were compared.

Using MITx video’s in TU Delft Campus Education

Prof. Russchenberg stumbled upon the MITx video’s used in the TU Delft Master course by chance, in preparation for the development of the DelftX MOOC on Water & Climate. The video’s would fit the course content-wise, but not all of them, and not the entire MOOC. So Prof. Russenberg decided to offer the video’s in the university’s learning environment to his students. ‘The entire MOOC was too much, went too deep, for our students in the course time we have in this course. And not all the topics covered are covered the way we like it.’

Student feedback

‘Most students liked the material. But they do complain that the studyload for the course is too high and it is too much. But in fact it isn’t. Students just have to actually meet the hours required for the course related to the amount of ECTS. Where in the past students could get away with not preparing for the lectures and study for their exams just in time, the current setup does not allow this anymore. The workload seems to have shifted a bit to students, but the amount of EC was the same. Students now have to make the hours that stand for the EC’s.’

‘Also, students seem to appreciate the current structure as a whole very well. Students seem to have a better understanding thanks to this structure. The course contents stick better, since there is always interaction, students need to actively participate, and they get to understand the contents much better.’

Teacher feedback

‘This is the third year we run the course in this way and it works well. You get a very lively atmosphere in the classroom among students. And by using the video’s offered by MITx I save time. Initially it took me some time to redesign the course. But now I reap the benefits. I still spend my hours to prepare my lectures, but it gave me time: I don’t have to offer the lecture anymore, and can go into discussions more. I can go deeper into the contents or talk about it in a wider context.’

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