A large group of colleagues from LERU-universities and people from all over the world interested in digital education took part in a blended conference last November. The LERU thematic group Digital Education has organized this first-ever blended conference to broadly disseminate knowledge of and experiences with digital teaching solutions. The blended conference comprises a ‘virtual’ online pre-conference and a face-to-face event in Utrecht. The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is a prominent advocate for the promotion of basic research at European research universities.
There’s so much knowledge within all of the LERU-universities. By sharing this and working together all LERU institutes can bring their education to a higher level. And provide this knowledge with institutes from all over the world. Within these new networks it’s easier to collaborate on other interesting topics.
That was the main goal of this blended conference. This blended approach has given a large group of teachers and staff members the opportunity to build networks and hear about the latest developments from the different task groups.
Participants from all over the world
Over 500 people from more than 45 different countries registered for the online part of the conference from November 1 till November 29. They participated in one or more online activities such as webinars and discussions in our online workspaces. After this online part there was a two day on campus conference in Utrecht with limited places, but open for the world and with the possibilities for online interaction and livestream video. Besides two interesting key notes by Bert van der Zwaan, former rector from Utrecht University and EU-delegate Themis Christophidou, Director-General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, there were many sessions on each of the 7 task groups. There was also a special programme for vice rectors Teaching and learning with the aim to facilitate a timely discussion on the challenges, opportunities and directions for change for research-intensive universities in the digital age. Adaptation to technological and societal change is needed within a short time span. 15 Vice-rectors teaching and learning discussed the EU ‘Digital education plan’ and will work together on a shared vision on this paper.
Research on digital education
Another goal is to work together with other LERU institutes on research on education. The more LERU universities work together in this field, the bigger and better the data, the sooner and better we know the effect of digital education. Bringing together changemakers in higher education was one of the ways to achieve this.
Collaboration in disciplinary and between interdisciplinary groups is essential for digitalization and to overcome challenges in implementing digital education. The blended conference combined hands-on practice, research based educational change and discussions on a more strategic level.
The aim was to build a community of practice and expertise, to foster co-operation between the LERU institutes and to share and develop new ideas and practical solutions. The results of this blended conference are recommendations and guidelines for the benefit of Digital Higher Education. Together with the policy group Vice-Rectors Teaching and Learning we will write a vision paper on Digital Education which will also be a response on the EU Digital Education Action Plan.
Interested in the online sessions? Watch the streams on leru.educate-it.nl/.
You can watch an impression of the LERU blended conference: