Malmö University is a relatively young higher education institution. It was funded in 1998 and has about 25 000 students. The rapid development of our university has coincided with changing conditions within research and higher education. Globalisation, individualisation and the development of information technology are just a few outside factors that have had and will continue to have a major influence on the manner in which higher education institutions need to act in order to remain a relevant and important agent in developing society.
Malmö University conducts research and provides education in areas central to a sustainable community development, both locally, regionally and globally. Research and education at the university focus on challenges related to democracy and participation, the sustainable use of resources and the promotion of personal health.
Why ‘The Glocal Classroom’?
The Communication for Development master’s programme at Malmö University was a pioneer in the use of internet-based learning, using online platforms to make education available to students globally already 15 years ago. The programme offers a unique blend of distance- and campus-based learning.
The web interaction follows a timeline, like any campus course and is structured around lectures and seminars on location, in Malmö or elsewhere. From the start, the backbone of the programme has been a pedagogical approach referred to as Convergence Pedagogy. The concept was coined and is continuously developed by the ComDev staff. It draws on the advantages that the online environment offers in terms of students connecting with fellow students around the world, mixed with onsite seminar weekends where students get a chance to meet and interact in person.
ComDev’s learning management system in combination with its livestreaming application LiveLecture allow students to follow the lectures and seminars in real time, interact with lecturers and fellow students instantaneously from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a reliable internet connection. Lectures and seminars are planned to allow students participating in different time zones. This learning environment, based on the group dynamic that potentiates the participants’ own resources, is described as The Glocal Classroom.
Encouraged by the university leadership, Oscar Hemer – Head of the ComDev Programme – submitted an application for project funding to STINT (Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education) in early 2013, with the aim of sharing and developing the ComDev concept both internally at Malmö University and through international partnerships. A positive answer marked the start of the project in September 2013.
Internationalisation has always been among Malmö University’s priorities. In the last few years, with the introduction of tuition fees and the expected drop in applications from non-EU students, a major effort has been made by the university leadership to deal with the new situation. In the coming years Malmö university will focus on developing collaborations with a number of selected partner universities.
The university leadership has strongly encouraged and prioritised the Glocal Classrom project, and intends to take very active part in its realisation.