Something that I have learned thanks to the experiences and experiments of the last year is that it is really important to formulate the didactical ‘problem’ before starting out. It never benefits a course when the lecturer decides to use a tool that looks nice or ‘because it is there’. A ‘problem’ may be that students are not that engaged during contact hours; that there is a lack of literature for the course; that students are not able or willing to provide peer feedback on written work; that group sizes are too large to provide personal attention to each student; and so on.
When the problem has been formulated the most suitable tool to solve the problem should be selected. But how? Anna Benjamins, who supports the use of blended learning at Leiden, has provided this toolkit (in Dutch): http://www.hum2.leidenuniv.nl/ECOLe/story.html which contains introductions to a great number of tools. Once a selection has been made – usually by creating accounts to different tools and comparing their functions and ease of use, as well as considering online reviews written by colleagues – it is time to reconsider the course outline and redesign it. The main questions are: which aims of the course can be fulfilled outside of contact hours by using this tool? Do these changes contribute to solving the ‘problem’? If not, then the ‘problem’ should be solved in a different way. However, if the blended learning can solve didactical problems, it is worth the investment of time and effort.