Teaching business economics is one thing; being an innovator in this domain is another. This week the Business Economics Department at the University of Amsterdam was awarded a European price for the Hybrid Learning Theatre it built at the start of season 2020-2021.
As all schools and universities, UvA had to start serving a large community of students at home when lockdowns and travel limitations were introduced in the Netherlands. One of the solutions that the university introduced was a hybrid learning environment. A cosy theatre that enables the teacher to address a small group of students on location, followed online by a much larger audience of peers. The smaller group gives visible feedback to the teacher and asks questions, which in turn improves the involvement of the online audience.
The experience at UvA is important for the event industry, as this Hybrid Learning Theatre serves as a model for future events. Growing numbers of students force many universities and schools to look for alternatives to classroom education. Minds are set to go for a combination of personal attention, large auditorium sessions and a mix of online and hybrid sessions. This combination is labelled as ‘blended learning’.
UvA’s hybrid college room got the award for the best AV-Enabled Education Space from EUNIS, the European Universities Information Systems organisation. The award and developments in universities were an item in Dutch TV news show Nieuwsuur this week.
Professor Maarten Pieter Schinkel (one of the people who came-up with the theatre) admits that he hopes online education is not the only way forward, as nothing beats direct contact with students. He also doesn’t like the idea that half the world is watching. The students however, loved the experiment. “These sofa’s are very comfortable,” explains one participant.