5 Benchlearning

Selecting the benchlearning target and partner

Hanken established a Digital Learning Policy in 2017, and digital pedagogy and what Hanken should do to support the development of digital learning had already been a strategic priority for some time when the pandemic hit. Support for digital pedagogy was thus a natural choice as the benchlearning project for the Academic Council in 2020. Hanken had had contacts with the Learning Centre at BI Norwegian Business School when setting up the Teaching Lab in the first place. Although BI and its Learning Centre are much larger organisations than Hanken, a collaboration with another leading Nordic Business School known to have both similarities and differences in the operations concerned was found to be a fruitful choice.  In March 2021, the agreement was signed between the Hanken Teaching Lab and the BI Learning Center (LC).

Hanken Teaching Lab (TL) BI Learning Center (LC)
Founded in 2017 Founded in 2010 (as the Learning Center under the Provost for quality in studies, moved to the library in 2018)
7 people + 4 temporary 18 people
Core team consists of members from IT and Studies and Admission (support for teaching): 2 pedagogical planners, 1 ICT Coordinator, 2 IT Planners, 2 media producers, 4 institution-wide teaching assistants, co-hosts/hybrid-teaching facilitators (on a needs basis) 3 teams: Peda-team, Tech-team, Production Co-hosts (hybrid assistants)


The objective for the benchlearning was to share, identify and implement best practices from each other. The process included 4 online meetings during 2021-2022. In the initial meeting, the objectives and work process of the benchlearning project were discussed between the main contact persons from both universities. In the content meetings, both parties presented pre-defined areas of their operations and discussed best practices and challenges within these areas. Based on the discussions, Hanken created a development plan for Teaching Lab operations and presented the plan to BI Learning Center representatives.

The progress of the development plan and lessons learned were presented in a wrap-up meeting. Due to the pandemic all meetings (initial, content and wrap-up) were held online. In conclusion there was a physical visit at Hanken in May 2022. During the BI visit to Hanken, a workshop was organised on post-pandemic teaching and on how to tackle the challenges with returning to the classroom. In addition to staff from the Hanken Teaching Lab and the BI Learning Center, selected faculty from both universities participated in the workshop.

The results of the benchlearning

The results of the discussions and meetings were compiled by Hanken Teaching Lab in the form of a good practices table (see table at the end of the chapter).

The benchlearning process resulted in clarifying Hanken Teaching Labs role and responsibilities (see image below), which ensures that the quality of the primary roles and responsibilities of the team are covered and in capable hands despite changes in personnel and in the operative environment.

Development areas and concrete examples

Teaching Lab has continued to build on the knowledge gained from the benchlearning process. Three prioraty areas of development are to:

  1. create a closer connection with departments and involve teachers in Teaching Lab
  2. increase pedagogical training opportunities, and to
  3. define the level of knowledge requirements for faculty.

To promote interaction, Teaching Lab plans a more systematic approach to the cooperation with the departments, e.g., quarterly meetings and “Top digital teachers” per department, to discuss and share best practices and upcoming developments as well as evaluate new digital tools. The aim is to increase pedagogical training opportunities by creating pedagogical self-study material.

Good practices of your    organisation Good practices of the partner organisation
Hanken Teaching Lab (TL) covers a wide area of operations (wider than LC). Everything that is related to teaching and learning is under the same umbrella: support for teachers, teaching and learning software, pedagogical training, curriculum planning and scheduling, course evaluations, MOOCs, information for teachers, Excellence in teaching awards, project financing for development of teaching and learning, and strategic development. One-stop-shop for everything teaching and learning related benefits the teachers Wide expertise in BI Learning Center (LC) (including expert members from faculty). More resources and more specialised resources, which allows people to focus on the type of support they are giving (learning design, internal communication etc)
TL newsletters with targeted info and tip-of-the-week type of short tricks are well liked by the faculty Specific contact people for each department. Allows LC to take care of department/subject specific questions and development needs, (direct contact with the departments), 15 min info in department meetings
Regular workshops in teaching tools Several co-hosts (hybrid-assistants) trained to help with technology in the classroom and online
Regular meetings with all Heads of Subjects arranged by the Deans (Dean of Education and Dean of Programmes and Quality Assurance) One help-email address (IT-support) that allocates questions to correct people (combining IT-support and Learning Center support has worked well)
Peda cafés and video podcast series for sharing best practices in teaching and learning 2/3 – 1/3 rule (synchronous – asynchronous) allows for flexibility in scheduling classrooms (problems with limited physical space). Concrete ideas for what to do during asynchronous time
Workshops on a needs basis and as requested by the departments. High numbers of participants
Defined expectations for teachers’ knowledge of IT and pedagogy
LC offers a formal course in pedagogy (requirement for professors 200 h = 7,5 ECTS, Stated in Norway’s university law)
Digital self-study material for newly hired faculty
Possibility to book a “learning designer” (A booking system for a learning designer available in the future)
Please give a concrete example/examples of
how you plan to apply or have already applied
good practices of your benchlearning partner.
Hanken has defined the level of knowledge requirements for faculty in the Hanken Digital Learning Policy (cf. heading ”Teaching and learning at Hanken and minimum standards for digitalisation in teaching and learning” on page 3) and shared for example on the onboarding seminar for new teachers.


Audit team’s comment on benchlearning

The Hanken Teaching Lab supports Hanken teachers with pedagogical training and support, and with the use of digital tools in general. Interviewees across multiple panels describe the Teaching Lab as an excellent resource that is available to any Hanken teacher that asks for help. However, individual willingness to seek out help varies significantly from one faculty member to another. Furthermore, teachers that participated in the workshop indicated that there are still widespread issues surrounding digital instruction, and particularly with the appropriate balance between digital and in-person instruction after COVID-19.

In an audit interview, the BI benchlearning partner’s Learning Centre was described as initially “ahead of its time”. It evolved from focusing on pedagogical content and intervention design to focusing on impact and implementation. This was done by strengthening engagement with the faculty and cooperation with finance, ensuring that resources were available to support the system cultural shifts that encapsulate the BI Learning Centre’s overall mission.

The management of the Teaching Lab is the next level of benchlearning that Hanken could potentially seek out in order to most benefit from the partnership with BI. Instead of only comparing the Teaching Lab’s operations and offerings with BI, Hanken could also compare the strategic management of the two institutions and possibly learn how to maximize the impact of the strong pedagogical asset that it has developed. This potentially includes setting specific, quantitative targets for Teaching Lab activities, collecting feedback and performance data in a systematic way, and using these inputs to determine the evolution of the Lab.

Specifically, this could mean expanding the scope of the institutional comparison to also include the institutions’ quality systems, using the Teaching Lab as a case study. It could be instructive to compare this aspect of Hanken with BI as a way of generating ideas for future improvement. This would involve an expansion of the scope of the benchlearning from merely including the staff of the Teaching Lab to including more senior management stakeholders of the university at large. During the audit visit, it was clear to the audit team that Hanken has strong ties to other business schools (including BI) through formal networks and informal exchanges. The audit team recommends using these valuable relationships to support Hanken’s evolution as a learning institution and specifically to learn how to successfully implement the recommendations in this report.