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Online conversation on Blended Mobility and Virtual Exchange

On 14 July 2021, UNIMED SubNetwork on eLearning and Open Education held its monthly 90 minutes online conversation in the framework of a series of online conversations on digital higher education in the Mediterranean”.

This 4th online conversation event gathered over 18 representatives from the UNIMED SubNetwork and was dedicated to the theme of ‘Blended Mobility and Virtual Exchange’ with a starting presentation by Dr. Francesca Helm, University of Padova.

In the second half of the meeting, Dr. Yasmeen Abuhasirah, has also shared a presentation of her experience with the Palestine Technical University Virtual Exchange Project, and finally, the event was concluded by the introduction of a new Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project coordinated by UNIMED called FRAMES ‘Fostering resilience through Accredited Mobility for European Sustainable Higher Education innovation’.

In her presentation, Dr. Francesca Helm highlighted the term Virtual Exchange in particular, and emphasized on the fact that virtual exchange is different from other forms of online learning “which are focused more on content such as MOOCs. And it is not like social media or online interactions which are unstructured and immoderate, but should be seen as a pedagogical approach. ”

She also provided insights on blended mobility, as a combination between physical mobility experience and virtual exchange with the different possible modalities for this. She illustrated how important and beneficial the role of the virtual exchange is as a starting point before physical mobility, in terms of socializing, of being familiar already with other people, and in terms of interactivity, and learning, giving concrete examples from her own experiences , and by sharing some case studies.

 Dr. Helm concluded her presentation by highlighting the importance of having incentive support, expertise from E-learning centers and the need of a strategy on the institutional level.

In the second half of the meeting, Dr. Yasmeen Abuhasirah, shared her experience with the Palestine Technical University Virtual Exchange project. A project that provided students with an opportunity to develop, practice and demonstrate their communication skills and online collaboration skills among other objectives.

Dr. Abuhasirah has also shared the criteria and selection process for this project, to guarantee an equal opportunity for everyone. She concluded her presentation by sharing the outcomes of this virtual experience, and by showing the participants a digital work done by the students, where they shared their success stories, under a booklet / magazine format.

All along the conversation, both presentations were followed by an interactive debate, in which participants emphasized the delicate moment the world is living and how it is affecting education in particular.

The event was closed by the introduction of a new project called FRAMES: Fostering resilience through Accredited Mobility for European Sustainable Higher Education innovation. FRAMES which is a project funded by the Erasmus + program of the European Union and it is lead by UNIMED, started on the 1st of March 2021 and will last 24 months, aiming to foster an harmonized implementation and accreditation of blended mobility among European Higher Education Institutions, making the European Higher Education Area more innovative and resilient.

You can watch the recording of this meeting here.

This conversation is recorded in an “online wall” at the address: https://padlet.com/unimed/sn_elearning  

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