"In education you can see direct effects of what you do"
To celebrate the launch of the new Acceleration Plan website, we did a series of interviews with members of the Acceleration Plan about their experiences in higher education. Today: Lucie Lolkema.
Lucie works as an education advisor at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, where she is committed to personalising education, among other things. She has noticed that membership of the Acceleration Zone Flexibilisation ensures actual acceleration within her own institution.
What is your role within Hogeschool Utrecht?
“I work as an education advisor at a staff department of Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. I feel at home, operating in the triangle of innovation, policy and support. My role is to connect those three aspects. I like to improve education and be given the freedom to do it in my own way.”
How did you get involved in higher education?
“I studied chemistry and got my PhD. In the early nineties it was not possible to find work in chemical research in the Netherlands. However, I was offered a job for six months working as a chemistry teacher at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. I immediately liked it. When my second contract was about to expire, I thought: if I want to ever work in the chemical sector, I have to make the move now. In no time I made the decision that I would rather stay at the UUAS.”
Why is education more fun than research?
“In chemical research you work on the development of knowledge, and of course there is a purpose and an application behind that, but those are quite far removed. In education you immediately see the effects of what you’re doing and who you are doing it for. I’m driven by wanting to make things better for students and lecturers. There are still a lot of important things to be done in education. That is where I feel at home.”
When you are involved in educational innovation, it is always about making people feel heard.
It is probably great for lecturers that you have teaching experience yourself.
“Indeed. I have worked at UUAS for over 25 years and I have had all kinds of positions: project leader; programme manager; training coordinator; I have been involved in audits and accreditations, so I am at a point now where I understand many facets of education. That is very useful in my current job. I can talk about many things from my own experience, both with lecturers and management. That helps to get my message across. When you are involved in educational innovation, it is always about making people feel heard.”
What misunderstanding is there about education?
“Everyone has received education and so everyone feels they are an ‘expert in education’. But education is an incredibly complex service to provide and that is often underestimated. So much is coming together, for example, to make education more flexible.”
Why has UUAS joined the Acceleration Zone Flexibilisation?
“We are still at the beginning of the development towards personalised education.
There is no blueprint of how to do it, we are all looking for what works and what doesn’t. It’s very nice to be able to coordinate this with colleagues from outside the institution. I think it will take us further and strengthen us all.”
What do you hope your Acceleration Zone will have achieve in four years?
“I hope we will have removed the confusion of concepts. There are many misunderstandings in personalised education: that we leave students to their fate, or that they will no longer have any classes at all. The opposite is true. Students have different needs. Personalised education also means that we offer a lot of structure to a student who needs it. In addition, I hope that we will succeed in organising and supporting flexible education well, with the help of ICT.”
What does membership of the Acceleration Zone mean for you and for your institution?
“Our first zone achievement is a flyer in which four student routes are described. The paradigm shift from thinking in student routes as an alternative to training routes has been an eye-opener for me. We can see much clearer at UUAS how we could do things in the future. The student and their the learning process will become much more central. Thát is what we should focus on in our education and services.”
Original text: Marjolein van Trigt