By. Adie E. Yusuf and HELM Team, 2015
The purpose of the Blended Learning special initiative was to experiment with blended learning as a means to deliver follow up to face-to-face training (HELM cluster workshops), to introduce methods of interaction that could maintain connections between professionals and develop professional networks, and to determine the viability of using blended learning for professional development. HELM partnered with Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) to develop and moderate the courses and to help assess the methods and courses to see if they were meeting these general goals.
During FY15 HELM delivered six three-month blended learning courses across all four core management areas. The GAL (General Administration and Leadership) and CES (Collaboration for External Stakeholders) core areas each ran two rounds of webinar courses and the FM (Finance Management) and QA (Quality Assurance) core areas each ran one round of webinar courses. In total, the HELM-UGM Blended Learning Initiative served 1,375 session participations, consisting of 446 unique individuals from 49 HELM partner HEIs and other institutions. The percentage of female individuals trained through the blended learning initiative (34%) was slightly higher than that of HELM’s conventional face-to-face trainings (32%).
At the end of each course UGM provided their assessment. In their report they stated that the level of interaction was good in almost all cases, although there were technological adjustments that had to be made continuously to ensure that people could get online. The group learned a lot about how to design and manage an interaction session and the early webinars wasted too much time with introductions and tech issues and left too little time to analyze and discuss. UGM also assessed the quality of the interactions to determine if people were engaging in the topics and whether the interaction was distributed across the participants or isolated among a few. They surmised that there was not time for many interactions, but they were generally on target and contributed to the discussion. In an assessment of learning, UGM determined that the products that were produced were “good” and “very good” (on a four point Likert scale where good and very good were on the high end), and that those individuals that engaged with the courses increased their skills levels.
UGM concluded that the two courses that seemed to work the best were the FM and QA courses. It is likely this was the case because both of these courses were more skill-based and participants could directly apply the skills that they learned to tasks that were part of their jobs, such as accounting or preparing applications for accreditation. Both the GAL and CES courses were more open and based on discourse. UGM and the HELM team completely revamped the GAL course to streamline the content and make it more tangible. The second run received much greater praise. The CES course dealt with topics that were largely unfamiliar to many of the HEI participants as developing partnerships with industry or community organizations was a new endeavor. It was valuable and the planning products received in both cases from participants were excellent. However, it was more difficult to pin down how much participants learned.
Finally, one of the goals of the special initiative was to develop professional networks. This goal has been met by the GAL and CES core areas. Each of these developed a professional network to continue the discourse and move the agenda forward. The networks in each case selected representatives and tasks that they wanted their professional network to work on a timeline for achieving it. This was considered a huge success.
Over the coming year the Blended Learning courses will be rerun and materials developed through the Blended Learning courses will be repurposed for the TOT and professional development courses that HELM will hand over to RISTEK-DIKTI and HEIs. A series of meetings will also take place in the first quarter with UGM to finalize a sustainability plan and determine how the courses and materials will be used long term.