Read the full paper below.
The concept of virtual exchange and blended learning is increasingly receiving more attention and importance when it comes to discussions around the future of mobility programmes and higher education in general. The new Erasmus+ programme has already adopted some blended settings that can take place under the Erasmus+ mobility actions. The new adjustments and the embedding of new forms of learning exchange (virtual and blended) raise questions about whether mobility will remain equally attractive for students and staff and how inclusive it can be.
The European Students' Union (ESU) and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) have created a position paper addressing the challenges of virtual and blended exchange and suggestions on how to successfully incorporate the new formats. The recommendations are primarily directed to the European Commission, National Authorities such as National Agencies and Ministries, and Higher Education Institutions.
The paper highlights the idea that virtual learning and blended activities can be a good internalisation tool, an additional format and an opportunity for intercultural dialogue. It can also be beneficial as a starting point before physical mobility, in terms of interactivity, learning about other similar experiences and being introduced to the hosting university. Nevertheless, the relevant stakeholders and institutions should keep striving for long term quality physical mobility, as the benefits of it are invaluable and irreplaceable. Blended programmes should be thoroughly planned, especially when it comes to the mobility part, in order to maximise the learning experience of the participants. Lastly, there should be an established framework on the recognition of qualifications to facilitate new approaches to validating and accrediting learning.
The document provides ESN’s and ESU’s perspective on how to maximise benefits that the different components can provide, without compromising the opportunities. The aim is to foster a harmonised implementation of blended learning and focus on the experience, learning outcomes, and accreditation that would benefit all future participants. In light of the upcoming Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council that will discuss blended learning, it is crucial that also Higher Education forms of blended learning are discussed in order to make them support further physical mobility: on these matters, the voice of students needs to be heard.