Implementing a holistic 'Blended Learning' concept at ZESS

Since the winter semester 2011/12, ZESS has been offering Blended Learning courses in Italian, an idea conceived by Giulia Covezzi. Due to students' overwhelmingly positive response, ZESS has decided to expand the initial idea and incorporate it into the framework of a CampusQPLUS-funded project.

Blended Learning transforms language courses into hybrid-learning platforms; thus, lessons are given both in 'traditional' classroom settings that require physical attendance, as well as online, through E-learning. In the physical Blended Learning classroom lessons, students engage in activities that place an emphasis on communication, interaction and cooperation between groupmates, whereas grammar and writing skills are honed during the online phases. Students receive individual feedback.

The online phases reinforce the skills acquired in the physical classroom, through individual and cooperative exercises. This is in accordance with the 'Flipped Classroom' Model, in which each work phase builds upon the contents of the previous. In this way, a sense of continuity is established between each phase: the physical attendance phase is geared towards group exercises; as such, students receive feedback based on their group effort. In contrast, the online phases place their emphasis on individual achievements. Feedback is partially generated automatically and partially given personally by the teacher of the course. Thus, together with the digitalization of the results, students are able to obtain a clearer overview of their strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to effectively work on improving their skills.

In the summer semester 2014 at ZESS Blended Learning shall be made available for the following courses: Italian (Foundation Level I till III), with each course amounting to 4 SWS; Spanish (Foundation Level I), also amounting to 4 SWS; Englisch Academic Writing (Advanced Level), with 2 SWS. Half the SWS make up the physical attendance lessons at ZESS; students are responsible for the implementation of the remaining half of the SWS through the online lessons.