Yesterday (20 June 2018), I had the pleasure of spending time with the FeedbackFruits team and other educators in Amsterdam at the “FeedbackFruits Education Inspiration Day” where I spoke about my own research about “How can elearning enhance study success…”

The event was held in the very trendy “FreedomLab” in Amsterdam (yes, that is a gold Buddha statue behind me and I got a bit excited about the chickens in my LinkedIn video….)

FeedbackFruits is a set of digital tools that enhance university learning platforms, facilitating blended learning and improving the ability to learn.  Their current partners in modernising education include a number of universities and “hogescholen” across the Netherlands, including my own employer, The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

The programme mixed practical case studies with educational theory, with a focus on blended learning – using a mix of face to face and online education.

Hans van Blooy from FeedbackFruits opened the afternoon showing how FeedbackFruits supports learning activities through information, inspiration and adoption of the tools.

Jeroen Bottema from Hogeschool InHolland gave some examples of how he is using FeedbackFruits with his students to support them in literature review assignments.

Harm Bartholomeus from Wageningen University spoke about the different questions and challenges lecturers have when implementing blended learning, such as why use it and how to motivate the students.  He explained that for him, it’s essentially about saving time when dealing and making it simply a part of your course design and expecting that the students take part.

Luuk Huijgen, also from Wageningen University shared a very inspiring example of how he uses not only the FeedbackFruits tools, but has brought these together into a very user-friendly course design.  What I particularly liked is that Luuk has used this to teach a presentation skills course – not something that many people would expect to be something you can “do online”.  However this is the essence of blended learning – a strong course design online which supports the offline, face to face parts of the course – and makes sure that the time you actually DO have in the classroom is used optimally.  I like that he builds in “entry tickets” for class, where it’s expected that you do the online work to prepare properly.  He also talked about user design and experience and gamification – things that our regular learning system of Blackboard is not good at.

That’s why I like FeedbackFruits – it doesn’t require me as a lecturer to wait years until the LMS (learning management system) at my university is upgraded – it it is already now installed as a plugin to enhance the functionality of Blackboard.  It still will take me some significant time and learning to get my head around firstly what it CAN do and secondly how I will use it in my own classes – but FeedbackFruits encourage lecturers to contact them for help if they need it, and are building a “learning activities” section on their website where we can get inspiration from how other lecturers are using the tools.

Then, we had three parallel sessions where we discussed theory in small groups.  I led one on elearning and study success, Luuk Huijgen talked about the influence of participation grading, and Eduard Reus from Hogeschool InHolland gave a session on “kernbegrippen blended learning” (in Dutch – understanding the core of blended learning).

For the final part of the afternoon we split into small groups and started with a number of challenges we face as educators, and how we may be able to address these via learning activities for our students using FeedbackFruits’ tools which include interactive video, audio, documents, presentations, study material comprehension and peer learning/teacher feedback options.

Though it was a small group who attended, it was nice to be able to hold some high-level discussion on blended learning, elearning, digital learning (whatever you want to call it!) with other enthusiasts with some experience.  I can clearly see we are early adopters on this educational curve but that it’s an inevitable change in universities, which we will need to lead our colleagues through in the years to come.

It was also interesting to hear that Feedback Fruits are currently expanding into my home country of Australia, with two of their team heading there in the near future.

Take a look at the FeedbackFruits website for more information about what they offer – they are a dynamic, friendly team and would be happy to talk to you if you work for a university and would like to know more.

www.feedbackfruits.com