Dinner is ready!


Dinner is ready!

Conchita Alvarez, senior advisor at the Dutch Police Academy, was delighted when she bought her first microwave. You were able to do so much with it! How much really, she didn’t know, because she’d never even read the manual. She heated her milk and thawed her frozen food. When her husband asked why she wanted that microwave so badly, her answer was: “Because you can do so many things with it!” But in reality, she only used the microwave to cook as she had always done for a long time. “And something similar often happens in using IT resources in education.”

Together with Jacob Nouta, HRM policy advisor at Leiden University of Applied Sciences, and Marie-José Kuypers, programme manager of the iXperum/Centre of Expertise in Learning with ICT at HAN University of Applied Sciences, Conchita is working on a “motion sensor” within the Professional development zone. This motion sensor should enable institutions to gain insights into how integral their approach with regard to educational innovation with IT is.

The zone focuses, among other things, on the importance of an integrated approach in facilitating and professionalising lecturers in the field of educational innovation with IT. An “integral motion sensor” has been developed for this approach, with which institutions can get thinking and acting about educational innovation with ICT moving. The motion sensor consists of an illustrated conversation map, discussion guide, and an evaluation tool. The entire package will be available to higher education institutions in September 2020. The development of the conversation map has been advanced to offer institutions the opportunity to reflect on the support of lecturers in the recent transition to online education.

Don’t just focus on the lecturer

When the zone started, finding out what the zone should focus on was a puzzle. Which topics were most important in facilitating and professionalising lecturers when it comes to using IT in their education? Marie-José explains: “Our zone isn’t just about lecturers, we quickly agreed. The entire organisation’s got a role in realising educational innovation with IT. Take the IT infrastructure. This might be very well put together technically, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it sufficiently supports education. ”

- Marie-José
“This zone isn’t just about lecturers” [/ quote]

And so the members of the zone concluded educational innovation with IT should be looked at on an institutional level. Vision and policy, leadership, professional development, and infrastructure should also be taken into account. How does that translate to an organisation-wide assignment?

Jacob explains: “Conchita always puts it beautifully: ‘lecturers are often expected to do it all.’ But those lecturers need the right support to do that. In order to organise this support, it’s important institutions have a integral discussions about this. ”

Start the conversation

But how do you start the conversation within institutions? And how do you ensure the right stakeholders are at the table? For this, the zone has developed its motion sensor. When using the motion sensor to start the conversation, it’s important to not just talk about developments lecturers (must) go through. Lecturers are part of a process in which policy is developed, where infrastructure is built and preconditions are determined. But is this managed incoherence, integrally? Then when it’s the lecturers’s turn to innovate their education, institutions say: ‘innovate your education now’, without proper embedding. That way, lectureres keep heating the milk with the microwave, so to speak.

- Conchita
“The motion sensor is a way to engage in a discussion about educational innovation with ICT” [/ quote]

The motion sensor is designed to literally get things moving. Conchita: “The motion sensor should help to create awareness and generate insight into all aspects of educational innovation with IT.” With the motion sensor, the three colleagues hope to nudge institutions to enter into conversation internally. Marie-José: “What matters is the integrated approach to educational innovation with IT, in which stakeholders know where to find each other and work together to facilitate lecturers in innovating education using IT.”

Jacob explains what this looks like in real life: “For example, the IT department may say: ‘We choose this tool because it meets the technical requirements’, while the lecturer wants to make a choice based on didactic qualities, after which the manager shouts: ‘We must first ensure that we get it well organised!’ How do you get these people together? With the motion sensor. The sensor mainly helps with the “what” in educational innovation with ICT. It focuses on the integrality of innovation. What should you consider? Who should you involve? The “how” of the innovation is the next step.”

- Marie-José
“The four pillars of vision and policy, leadership, professional development, and infrastructure should result in synergy” [/ quote]

The added value of the motion sensor is that these questions are answered by all stakeholders together. Stakeholders must form an overall picture of who is needed where and at what time. It is all about one question: What do you have to do to optimally facilitate the lecturer to innovate education with the use of ICT? Marie-José: “The four pillars of vision and policy, leadership, professionalization and infrastructure should result in synergy.”

Jacob continues: “One level up we ask the question: What vision do we, as institutions, actually have on educational innovation with IT? And it’s great if the motion sensor can feed that conversation.” However, the motion sensor is not a way to develop your vision on educational innovation with IT. “The vision of educational innovation with IT must fit in with the history of the institute, the type of education provided, and may even differ between faculties,” says Conchita.

Using the motion sensor to learn from the response to COVID-19

Not all institutions have an existing vision of educational innovation with ICT. Although the motion sensor was developed before anyone heard of COVID-19, it can be used to evaluate how institutions acted in their response to the crisis.

- Conchita
“What we have seen is that, due to the COVID-19 crisis, ICT is being used for existing education” [/ quote]

“Pre-COVID everyone was in favour of educational innovation with IT, but not everyone saw the urgency in it. What we have seen is that, due to the COVID-19 crisis, IT has been used on existing education. Lecturers have converted their physical education to online classes,” says Conchita. That’ll remain the case next year, Jacob knows: “We expect to offer a substantial part of our education online next year. The questions  lecturers have, are shifting from “Which buttons do I have to push to get this online?” to “How do I keep my students engaged?”

- Jacob
“We expect to offer a substantial part of the education online next year” [/ quote]

These questions were already there before the pandemic, but are now reinforced in online education. “You can now use the motion sensor to look back on the past months: What developments do we see? What went well? What is going well practically, but needs to improve educationally? What doesn’t run smoothly? Who can turn knobs to improve and make the changes sustainable?”

Avoid only heating the milk

With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, awareness and a movement towards educational innovation with IT has also started. But the developments that have taken place in recent months are not yet innovations, at least not everywhere. “If we just put education 1.0 behind a computer screen, that isn’t innovation, then we have only used IT. That’s a substitution, and in my opinion, we need to move from substitution to transformation. There’s no real transformation at the moment,” says Marie-José.

- Marie-José
“We need to move from substitution to transformation” [/ quote]

“Transformation really creates a different world. For example, if you want to focus on offering your education online half of the time, you have to organise the educational offer differently. You have to think in terms of learning lines. But education could also be offered more tailor-made and personalised to students. That requires vision and skill.” Innovation is a conscious choice, whereby both vision and policy must make clear where an institution wants to go, says Marie-José: “In my opinion, we do this to organise the education for students as optimally as possible. The ultimate goal of the Acceleration Plan is to improve education for students and to better connect with the professional field. We ourselves could never have conceived and created a disruptive time like this.” That is why the motion sensor comes in handy now.

No checkmarks, but training material

“What we didn’t want was for the motion sensor to be an instrument that people use as a checklist to see where they ‘stand’,” says Conchita. Marie-José adds: “We certainly didn’t want an instrument with which a benchmark was determined or a baseline measurement was taken. It is absolutely not the intention to compare institutions. We were looking for a form in which we could stimulate and facilitate the discussion in institutions about educational innovation with IT.”

Marie-José: “Our starting point was that the instrument had to be practical so that institutions would actually use it. Otherwise, we would have done it all for nothing. That requirement really guided us during the development of the motion sensor.”

- Jacob
“I’m very curious to see how the sensor will be used and who is sitting at the table” [/ quote]

The motion sensor consists of a placemat (you can see where the cooking metaphor comes from) to use as a conversation starter and a conversation guide elaborated with questions. There is also training material for those who are going to lead the conversations, and there are tools to evaluate the conversations and to collect the outcomes.

The motion sensor will soon be available for all settings to use. Jacob: “We want to start using the motion sensor in the autumn. After the summer, we’ll send our zone colleagues to their own institution with the motion sensor. We hope that as many of them as possible will use the motion sensor, institution-wide, at a faculty level, or during training. I hope for diverse outcomes and I’m very curious to see how the sensor will be used and who is sitting at the table.”

Download the motion sensor talk conversation map (Dutch) here. Want to know more about the motion sensor or how to use the conversation map? Please contact Conchita, Jacob, and Marie-José at

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