ESU and ESN launch a joint position paper on mobility, virtual exchange and blended learning
When it comes to discussions about the future of mobility programs and higher education in general, the concept of virtual exchange and blended learning is gaining more momentum and importance. Some blended settings that can take place under Erasmus+ mobility actions have already been introduced by the new Erasmus+ program. The new changes, as well as the incorporation of new kinds of learning exchange (virtual and hybrid), raise concerns about whether mobility will continue to be equally appealing to students and staff, and how inclusive it may be.
The European Students’ Union (ESU) and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) have worked on a position paper that addresses the problems of virtual and hybrid exchange, as well as recommendations for how to successfully implement the new formats. The recommendations are targeted mainly to the European Commission, National Authorities such as National Agencies and Ministries, and Higher Education Institutions.
Virtual learning and blended activities, according to the research, can be a good internalisation tool, an additional format, and an opportunity for intercultural dialogue. In terms of interactivity, learning about other similar experiences, and being introduced to the hosting university, it can also be useful as a starting point before physical mobility. Nonetheless, key stakeholders and organizations should continue to strive towards long-term, high-quality physical mobility since the benefits are invaluable and irreplaceable. In order to maximize the learning experience of participants, blended programs should be meticulously prepared, particularly when it comes to mobility. Lastly, a framework for recognizing qualifications should be devised in order to promote innovative 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.