Contact instruction has been a central starting point for basic education. Sometimes teachers and students have been forced to switch to online learning at short notice. For example, in the spring of 2020, schools had to move to distance learning suddenly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Teachers had to rapidly adapt to teaching online. If lesson plans include digital elements from the beginning, teachers will be prepared to make changes to their teaching flexibly. Blended learning is a suitable method in all situations, but the COVID-19 pandemic showed more concretely that there is a need for it, says principal lecturer Olli Vesterinen from Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Diak).
Blended learning refers to a situation where elements of online learning are systematically introduced to complement traditional teaching in classrooms. The objective is not to replace contact instruction but to complement it.
Blended learning is being promoted as part of school education with the BLENDI – Blended Learning for Inclusion project across Europe. The project is coordinated by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences from Finland. In addition, there are collaborative organisations from Spain, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus.
In areas that are badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have trouble returning to contact instruction. In more peaceful areas, some students may be in quarantine at home if they have been exposed to the virus.
- At some point, it is possible that some students will study remotely and others will be at school, says Pekka Tukonen, the principal of Haarajoki school in Järvenpää.
The Haarajoki school is one of the Finnish schools taking part in the BLENDI project. There they know how suddenly everybody had to dive into online learning this spring. The situation greatly affected working life and the way some teachers teach.
- Last spring, teachers’ lesson plans were even more detailed than normally, because many things had to be reconsidered, says class teacher Laura Manninen.
The Haarajoki school and other schools involved in the BLENDI project start by mapping areas that need to be improved and identifying areas that development measures should be focused on. The project’s education services will be modified as necessary.
In addition to mapping and training services, the project offers the BLENDI toolkit and online platform to schools. When possible, the participants from the different countries in Europe will meet either face to face or remotely.
The project team has recently published a BLENDI guideline, which is a comprehensive online publication about blended learning. The publication is available in Finnish, English, Greek and Spanish.
- We welcome new schools to participate in the project, and anybody is free to use the BLENDI guideling in their teaching, says Olli Vesterinen.
The BLENDI – Blended Learning for Inclusion project is coordinated by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Diak) in Finland. The collaborative partners of the project include Athens Lifelong Learning Institute in Greece, European University Cyprus in Cyprus, I & F Education and Development in Ireland and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain.
The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. The duration of the project is from 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2022.
Read more about the possibilities offered by BLENDI at https://www.blendedinclusion.eu/.
Niko Nummela, project manager
+358 40 509 3574
Olli Vesterinen, principal lecturer, blended learning and digital pedagogy
+358 40 590 5949
The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Diak) is Finland’s largest provider of UAS-level education in social work. We also offer education in health care, diaconia and interpreting. In addition to education, our core operations include research, development and innovation activities, often carried out through project work.
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