Blended PBL Support

Education Support

Blended PBL Support


Blended Learning refers to enriched, student-centered learning experiences, made possible by the harmonious integration of various strategies, achieved by combining face-to-face interaction with ICT (Oliver & Trigwell. 2005). However, these new (online) strategies are not just added on, or used to replace offline elements. Blended Learning requires that online and offline methods are carefully selected and designed.

The process of creating these experiences can be time-consuming and sometimes pose a struggle for teachers. They, for instance, need to find out which tools and strategies are available and have to develop digital skills to use ICT-tools within their education. Therefore, the Blended PBL Support team with a background in educational science and psychology offers support and advice on incorporating tools in your education.

We created a Tool wheel to help you find out what online tools are available in the context of several educational scenarios. Depending on the goal, e.g. more interaction with or between your students, integrating skills like peer review or peer assessment, or co-creation and collaborative knowledge building, we focus both on the tool as well as on the instructional design within the context of your program, constructively aligning teaching and learning activities, with intended learning outcomes and assessment. Visit VideUM to learn more about video in education and UM video conferencing tools.

We also focus on the transition from Blackboard to Canvas as in creating a UM template for all courses, providing training for students and staff and performing pilots with the new tools. We partner up with the EDLAB in providing videos and workshops on adapting your course given the implementation of online tools. Next to that, checkout the official UM Online Education portal, which has been launched in order to provide the UM community with information about facilitating education via digital means.

Our Services:

  • Facilitation and support on (selecting and implementing) technologies in both offline and online education; we can help you get the best out of the broad variety of tools our digital learning environment has to offer;
  • Demonstrations, events, training sessions and workshops on instructional design in the context of blended PBL;
  • Give information and help with the use, creation and sharing of Open Educational Resources and working with Creative Common Licenses;
  • Discuss any educational question in the context of blended PBL, whether it’s about the use of online tools within your course, digital skills for you or your students or stimulate interaction with students, and much more.


In need for support?

  • Check out the online manuals we selected for you or attend a demo or workshop;
  • Have your questions answered by the library, or redirected to an expert at the Blended PBL Support team;
  • Book a personal consultation to discuss complex questions (one-to-one personal instruction sessions of 60 minutes);
  • Tailor-made support based on your (or your teams) wishes/problems.

We invite staff and students to contact us for questions regarding such topics, like trends in e-learning, improving tutorial groups with online and offline pedagogics, and the use of emerging technologies in your education.
Of course, we welcome your ideas about new technologies, whether it’s online or offline, for learning and instruction!

Themes, topics and projects


Blended teaching methods are a means to facilitate teaching or learning activities. We currently work within four main themes, providing a framework for our projects and support offer. The quadrants in the picture (e.g. interaction) refer to information on these themes.

Themes describe topics or activities giving content to the theme (e.g. collaborative knowledge building as an example of interaction) and if applicable, we describe online and offline tools as an option serving the aimed-for activity. Our projects are connected to at least one of the themes.

For every project, you can address the corresponding contact person. For general questions related to Blended teaching methods, contact us via

The following means to serve as inspiration, based on current or upcoming projects or topics of interest.

Theme: e-interaction
Interaction is seen as crucial for problem based learning. In this section we describe e-learning tools which can facilitate interaction during educational activities, like lectures and tutorial group meetings. But you can also offer (or make use of) tools to facilitate interaction e.g. in the context of collaborative learning, for example co-writing.


Maastricht University (UM) has joined a four-year consortium license with FeedbackFruits so you can make use of a set of tools aimed at increasing student engagement, both during PBL sessions as well as outside the classroom.

Start using FeedbackFruits

All FeedbackFruits tools are integrated in EleUM, and can be chosen from the Tools menu in every course and organisation.

  • Log in on EleUM
  • Open a course you have instructor access to
  • Go to Assignments / create an assignment
  • Click on Tools (expand tools menu)
  • Choose one of the FeedbackFruits tools
  • Follow the steps

Peer review

With the peer review option students can review their peers’ work, by coupling one or several students. The instructor may structure feedback with criteria and constraints.

Group Member Evaluation

The group member evaluation tool offers the possibility to students to evaluate group member contribution to collaborative group work.

Interactive document and video

The basic of these modules is offering a (key) document or video using the Interactive Modules. Three scenarios have proven to be successful.

More info:

If you consider introducing peer feedback in your course and want to get inspired by UM practices or need some guidance in making choices concerning group work, group assessment or peer feedback scenarios, you can make use of some background information:

Audience response tools

An Audience Response Tool (ART) offers teachers and students the opportunity to communicate via polls, test questions, Word Clouds, gamification, etc. The questions are displayed on mobile devices and the answers are shown on a central screen. Using an ART, the presenter engages the audience in an interactive way with the learning activities. Increasing interaction between teachers and students can improve long-term retention of learning materials, enhance student attention and involvement, identify gaps in knowledge, and provide immediate feedback to your lecture or students present. In addition to hand raising or using microphones, audience response tools provide a way to increase interaction during lectures. They can be used as:

  • quick formative assessments; to check whether students have understood information and concepts covered
  • contingent teaching; based on responses of the audience switch the focus of the lecture (because they favour this or seem to know less about a certain topic)
  • discussion and debate starters by posing propositions or asking no-correct-answer questions
  • student engagement; creating a safe and attractive environment for interaction in which everyone can participate.


Wooclap for live voting

To support teachers and students with the use of an audience response tool to facilitate live voting during classroom sessions, the Library offers a campus-license for Wooclap.

Wooclap is an Audience Response Tool (ART) that offers teachers and students the opportunity to communicate via polls, test questions, wordclouds, gamification, etc. The questions are displayed on mobile devices and the answers are shown on a central screen. Using an ART, the presenter engages the audience in an interactive way with the learning activities. Wooclap offers a lot of different question types and is very easy to use. It’s an interactive solution that makes learning awesome and effective.

Start using Wooclap

  • Get a Wooclap account by login in with your University Credentials (Single-Sign-On) and start setting up events;
  • Watch our video and start-up manual and create your first questions;
  • Contact the Blended PBL Support team if you need support or have any questions.

Concept mapping tools

Concept-mapping and mind-mapping software are used to create diagrams or relationships between concepts, ideas or other pieces of information. At several faculties, concept and mind mapping tools are being used by students and teachers. For example to support:

  • note taking (often claimed that the mind mapping technique can improve learning efficiency up to 15% over conventional note taking)
  • the brainstorm in the tutorial group meeting
  • or structuring the study or writing process of the individual student.

Practice: Zooming in on concept mapping tools (FHML, tool available) Together with the faculty of Health, Medicine and Life sciences we experimented with several tools in order to describe them and their fit into education. As may be expected from mind mapping software, all include the same basic functionality of creating and naming relationships between elements of a certain theorem. We decided to describe four more in-depth.

  • SmartIdeas (available via the Student desktop and -on request- for teaching staff)
  • CmapTools (freely available on the internet, but also installed on the Student desktop)
  • Coggle (free version available, for more functions you can buy a personal license)
  • MindMeister (a tool available for buying).

For information on making use of one of these, please consult the Blended PBL Support team.

Wikis, blogs & trends

Teaming and cooperation will often be stressed and chosen as the format to have students gather and use their knowledge. EleUM offers several options to facilitate co-creation and collaborative knowledge building. The EleUM support team is constantly focusing on the functionalities EleUM offers to facilitate teaching and learning. Amongst these are wikis (ideal for collaborative writing and peer review) and blogs (e.g. suitable as a reflection tool).

Practice: Wikipedia in UM education (FPN)

What are the benefits to your students? Writing or updating a Wikipedia page can help students to engage in the knowledge community. They practice encyclopedic writing, which resembles academic writing to some extent. For example, they have to write in a neutral point of view, use references, and follow a certain structure. Take advantage of our experience UM Library staff already has quite some experience with Wikipedia projects in Maastricht University (UM) education. For example at the Faculty of Psychology & Neurosciences (FPN):

  • in the course writing a historical book review, FPN Honours students followed five sessions in order to write a review about an interesting, important and/or divergent psychology book from Maastricht University’s Special Collections. Wikimedia took care of the introduction and practical sessions, which could be provided in either Dutch or English. The UM Library provided guided tours and digitised images, which were made available by Wikimedia.
  • in the first year curriculum of FPN as part of the Skills course, students performed the assignment writing a Wikipedia page. Students wrote – together with their peers of the mentor group – a Wikipedia page about a psychological topic. Wikimedia provided the introduction, while Wikimedia and a library information specialist collaboratively guided the practical session.

Interested? On Wikipedia: Benelux Education Program/Maastricht University you can find a full list of assignments at the UM. In case you are interested in integrating a Wikipedia assignment and/or workshop into your curriculum, you can check the Wikimedia page: Education Program. If you want to know more about how the UM Library can support you in how to implement Wikipedia in your course, feel free to contact Henrieëtta Hazen via Ask your librarian. Virtual classroom PBL in Maastricht is organised around small scale group sessions or tutorial groups (consisting of 12-18 students). Once or twice a week students meet in a tutorial group meeting under the guidance of a tutor. They then discuss problem tasks and define what they need to study of perform to master the theory and make transfer happen. Sometimes physically meeting on campus is not feasible. If you do want to interact even on a distance, you can consider making use of a virtual classroom (part of EleUM).

Theme: e-experience
With the advent of emergent technologies, simulations and gaming can mimic reality and provide opportunities to deliver learning experiences in a realistic setting. Simulations are used in learning environments and offer a time-efficient way to reach the desired level of performance, while simultaneously increasing the performance level reached. Practice: serious gaming as a learning tool (FHML) Implementing games is done based on the assertion that thinking and learning skills can be developed by playing some adventure or role-playing games. Also at UM, the possibilities of gaming are being explored. Andreas Herrler (FHML) invested in creating a serious game to help his students actively engage with the subject. It is actually a self-assessment tool meant to improve student performance within the context of anatomy. According to Herrler, serious games “have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement. This does not mean that serious games are not, or should not be, entertaining.”

Artificial Intelligence – Is there a place at UM education?

Reflections from an Ideation session at BISS Institute The BISS Institute hosted together with EDLAB, UM Library, MUMC+ and IBM Benelux, the first Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) & Cognitive Computing in Education Ideation Session on 5 April 2018. More than 40 students, teachers and UM staff from all faculties participated and worked towards roadmaps and use cases. The event was designed to answer the question: “Does Artificial Intelligence have the potential to make a real difference with regard to educational innovation within Maastricht University?”

Theme: e-content
A student aiming to become an academic needs to study theory or content. Often teachers provide a textbook or literature list. In PBL the student define learning issues to gain knowledge on and need to find and study learning resources themselves. Next to making use of a literature list, you can consider offering/studying e-content in your course. This can simply be a link to an e-reader, but also alternative online resources. Examples of e-content are video and animation or open educational resources.

Video for your course

One image can be stronger than a thousand words! And videos can be a welcome addition to text books as well. The University Library offers a collection of videos and other AV resources, but the internet is also becoming a prominent supplier for higher education. Check for instance websites like or . A specific category refers to web lectures. Higher education institutions recording (part of) their lectures are no longer an exception. To re-attend lectures on difficult topics or to be present at a distance when travelling is no option. Sometimes registrations are used for creating short clips on specific topics, to be used in other educational contexts or for other audiences. VideUM as the result of the project Video Services (finished) With the rise of new opportunities in the field of recording devices more questions arise like (what tool fits best, what does offering a video mean for my role as a teacher, which copyright issues should I take care of, etcetera. In April 2017 the library completed the video services project. Members of Maastricht University teaching staff, who would like to use video in their education, now have a one stop portal for video recording, uploading and sharing: VideUM. VideUM offers information on video production, didactics, and copyright. Here you can upload a video, find out how to register your lecture or get inspired by good practices within the UM and beyond. VideUM also serves as the gateway to UM video platform Mediasite. On this platform lecture recordings, as well as short educational videos, can be stored and shared with students. The UM library manages Mediasite, in close collaboration with faculty support staff. Follow this link for contact information of the support staff within your own faculty. Practice: Epidemiology animated (FHML) What counts for video, is also applicable for animations. Examples are Epidemiology animated, a product from a Leading in Learning project in which has been experimented with creating and offering animations for learning is the project of Bas Verhage (2012), and What is a MOOC?,  a quick and simple video on MOOCs by Dave Cormier and Neal Gillis. Attractive and strong, but laborious to create. Of course you can search for commercial producers.

Creating and sharing Open Educational Resources

Open educational resources (OER) or open learning materials are learning materials that are accessible to everyone under an open license. Flexible and personal education comes closer when students and teachers have access to a large and diverse collection of learning materials. The University Library follows the developments in several initiatives on making use of these OER: support teachers to use the proper (creative commons) licenses, store the materials, and help students to find and select OER. A state of the art description on Open Educational Resources is published by SURF in the 2015 Open and Online Education Trend Report by SURF On the Open Education Website, we offer examples of repositories with open educational resources, but also information on copyright issues and a tutorial to help students and teachers to find and evaluate information, accompanied with some general search tips and tricks. What we don’t want to left unspoken in this section are the MOOC’s: Massive Open Online Courses. The MOOC-list provides an overview of all upcoming MOOCs in the next thirty days. Project: UM-MOOC (finished) Maastricht University has launched (and finished) it’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in 2015 and repeated in 2017. The topic was central to our education: Problem-Based Learning (PBL). As this MOOC also follows PBL principles, working online in small groups is an important part. For more information about the UM MOOC, please consult the website: Problem-Based Learning: Principles and Design Students at the centre!

National open education developments

Trend report on open education: moving beyond the pioneer phase The Open and Online Education Trend Report 2015 (PDF) describes the developments in open and online education and the challenges it presents for Dutch higher education. In its fourth edition, this report now also covers the subject of online education. Recent developments in open and online education and the challenges it poses for Dutch higher education are explained by various experts in articles and intermezzi. The subjects include:

  • What opportunities does open education offer for campus-based education?
  • What are the potential new target groups for open and online education? What are their needs and how do education institutions address them?
  • How can open online education be utilised to enable secure online testing?
  • What challenges does open and online education present for learning analytics?
  • What role can libraries play in the use of open learning resources?

Publication by Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association Published in the 2018 edition of the Open Education Week, the HETL Association offered a free copy of the HETL book, Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education. The book provides an insightful collection of essays, exploring ways in which open education can democratise access to education for all. It is a rich resource that offers both research and case studies to relate the application of open technologies and approaches in education settings around the world. Global in perspective, this book argues strongly for the value of open education in both the developed and developing worlds. Through a mixture of theoretical and practical approaches, it demonstrates that open education promotes ideals of inclusion, diversity, and social justice to achieve the vision of education as a fundamental human right. A must-read for practitioners, policy-makers, scholars and students in the field of education. Open Education Week For over five years the Open Education Week has been organised (traditionally in March). This event is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement and its goal is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Universities, colleges, schools and organizations from all over the world have come together to showcase what they’re doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone. On the website you can check out videos to learn more about open education and why it’s important to communities around the world. Find out what interests you, and explore. Join a webinar, see what projects are going on around the world, or attend a live event. Check your digital footprint In addition to instruction videos the library offers tutorials on several topics, ranging from academic information skills to support for researchers. In Personal Branding Online you will learn how to build and maintain a professional online image. It contains chapters on topics such as self-branding, social networking sites and online identity management, including legal issues. Today your image is mostly defined by what people will find about you on the internet. This image, based on online data like photos, videos, likes etc., is your digital identity or footprint. In higher education, it is important to build and manage a positive professional online image. This tutorial will help you improve your online image so your name will turn up positive and professional within the academic community. Go to Personal Branding Online

Theme: e-testing and coaching
As the amount of e-content grows and teachers and students get used to interact and build knowledge (also) online, you might wonder what developments are at hand for e-testing and e-coaching. Some universities invest in large test-halls, others collaborate in developing large item-banks. Tools for e-assessment available for you:

  • Tests and surveys in EleUM: everything you want to know about creating and setting up (self) tests, surveys and pools in your EleUM course.
  • The Grade centre in EleUM is more than just a way to record students’ grades. It is a dynamic and interactive tool, allowing you to record data, calculate grades, and monitor student progress. In the Grade centre, you can provide and manage your students’ grades for assignments, tests, discussion posts, journals, blogs, and wikis, and for ungraded items, such as surveys or self-tests. You can also create grade columns for any activities or requirements you want to grade, such as special projects, participation, or attendance.
  • Safe assignment tool (with plagiarism check). Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation and stealing and publication of another author‘s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions and the representation of them as one’s own original work (source: Wikipedia). Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and can result into sanctions like penalties, suspension, and even expulsion. It is important that students are made aware of what the teacher considers plagiarism. At the same time practically all papers and assignments handed in by students are automatically checked on plagiarism (if offered as a safe assignment). If a report reveals plagiarism, it is up to the teacher to decide on what consequences should be applied.

Project: Plagiarism as a challenge (finished) Focusing on Turnitin for detecting plagiarism, lead to the conclusion that the anti-plagiarism functionality of Turnitin proved to be of little added value compared to the already available Blackboard anti plagiarism tool SafeAssign. The UM has decided to join a Surf initiative to search for and test Turnitin alternatives. Project: tools for (peer) feedback (finished) In the slipstream of the plagiarism project and accompanied with the focus of group member evaluation within the context of group work, teaching staff showed great interest for feedback tools enabling them to organise and proces (peer-) feedback. That’s why we started a project, in which we:

  1. explore alternatives for organising peer feedback;
  2. consulted UM program directors to make an inventory of the online tooling needed and the desired UL support for their educational scenarios;
  3. which will be continued by informing UM teaching staff about those available online tools (and supporting them when implementing) that have been indicated as valuable for education by program directors.

Meanwhile the UM has finished piloting FeedbackFruits as a tool for organising feedback on students (by teachers and peers, both document and non-document related) and has decided to join the national consortium with FeedbackFruits for a period of 4 years. This means that we can continue to offer tools for providing teacher feedback (e.g. on written documents) and for peer review and group member evaluation after summer, but also for other didactic scenarios like student interaction around documents, videos or presentations.

In EleUM you can now make use of two tools to either have students review their peers’ work or evaluate the group member contribution to collaborative group work.

At the same time EDLAB executed a project which resulted in guidelines on organizing and assessing group work.

Work in progress: building an infrastructure for digital assessment

In line with several other Dutch universities Maastricht University (UM) is currently exploring what it takes to organise digital assessment. The project focuses on several aspects: devices, location, software, organisational issues and last but not least didactics. All UM faculties are involved, by participating in one or more pilots and represented in the steering committee. Project lead is in hands of the University Library. In the new academic year large scale facilities will be realised for digital assessment. The work is expected to be ready by the end of 2018. As from early 2019 the first digital assessments may take place in the MECC. Finally, we will be able to administer 600-800 digital assessments at the same time. Parties involved In the team many UM disciplines are involved: teachers, assessment experts and assessment coördinators and ICT & education specialists from all faculties, different experts from the ICT Service Centre (ICTS) UM Library, Student Service Centre, Facility Services and Finance. Gains and challenges Teachers defined expectations on what ‘digital’ could mean for their education. Gain can be reached when it comes to deciphering students’ handwriting, but also referring to logistics of creating and reviewing of test items, clustering items into (adaptive) tests, reproduction costs and organising the grading process. Think of distributing items to several teachers or skipping activities like gathering, delivering and safely storing exams. In the evaluation of the pilots all stakeholders will be questioned about their experiences in order to know what considerations we need to make if we want to upscale to digital assessment for more courses. Preparations are currently made for creating the technical infrastructure and support organisation for upscaling the service for all faculties. Didactics and assessment But having the opportunity to ‘go digital’ can also be the moment to reconsider what and how you want to assess your students. How assessment drives learning was the theme of a special Teach Meet in April, organised by EDLAB and UM Library. Topics touched upon were:

  • programmatic assessment
  • psychometrics behind computerised adaptive testing
  • how to pay attention to constructive alignment and thus optimise the coherence between curricular goals and assessment goals.

Soon a dedicated page on the new digital assessment service will come available. Do you want to stay informed on the outcomes of the pilots and the future of digital assessment at this university? Please leave your message via Ask your librarian.

Interested to learn more about digital assessment? SURF created a (Dutch) thematic page on topics related to digital assessment.

Theme: Trends and conferences
Trends in educational technology In close consultation with the faculties, the University Library is responsible for the Digital Learning Environment: the UM gateway to education. We offer tools and support connected to educational activities mostly used at Maastricht University. To share experiences with colleagues (and thus incorporate the latest findings when supporting you) we visit conferences and seminars where we present and learn from others. We share our impressions and lessons learned in specific blogposts as you might have read before*. A small selection from last year (2018):

April OE Global – Conference on how open education helps us achieve universal access, equity, innovation and opportunity in education
June EdMedia – Innovate Learning (report in Dutch will follow)
September Seminar Online guidance of students
November EDUCAUSE – Impact of technology on education & Conference on effective learning strategies

In case you want to visit these of kind events yourselves, we like to suggest some upcoming events (all in the first of 2019):

19-21 February ELI Annual Meeting (on learning principles, practices and technology)
26-28 June Onderwijs Research Dagen (deadline call for proposals 18 January)
12-13 July PAN PBL & Active learning (deadline call for proposals 30 January)

* If you want to receive regular updates of the Library and Education blog posts, you can join our mailing list.

Contact us
The Blended PBL support team consists of 4 enthusiastic members:

Gaby Lutgens Team coordinator and expert in group and peer feedback 85363
Barend Last Blended learning & information specialist 81803
Ilse Sistermans Expert in Open & Online Learning and Media & Education 85013
Yvonne van den Broek Project assistant and metadata expert 85150

We work closely with the EleUM support team and align our activities with the EDLAB, the UM institute focusing on educational innovation.  


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