Interview series: Nicole Will & Michiel de Jong

Interview series

"No personal learning process without a digital infrastructure"

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 a double interview with Nicole Will and Michiel de Jong.

Nicole Willl and Michiel de Jong share a membership of the zone Towards digital (open) educational resources. They both work at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) Library, Nicole as head of Education Support and Michiel as an open education leader.

What do you like best about your position?

Nicole: “I like to find out how I can solve a problem for a lecturer. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand, as people sometimes seem to think, but I do everything in my power to support lecturers to help them find a solution. That’s the challenge of my job. ”

Michiel: “From the library I mainly work on project development. I like to get started with new ideas, design pilots and eventually make them suitable for application on a larger scale, like we are currently doing with open textbooks.”

TU Delft strives for open standards. What exactly does that mean?

Nicole: “This means that we don’t want people to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, by reusing what already exists and openly sharing what you create yourself. We encourage lecturers to start by looking for material that is already available. Preferably, one only develops educational resources himself/herself if that does not fit. Then, of course, we encourage them to share it with the world. The principle that we introduce is “open, unless”. You will share your materials unless there is a good reason not to. To achieve this, we as a library must, among other things, develop and offer appropriate support.”

Together we explore which platforms, communities and standards we can use best for sharing educational resources

- Nicole Will and Michiel de Jong

What is the role of the library in the movement towards digital (open) educational resources?

Nicole: “We have a wide range of expertises available here, but we also work closely with a number of other departments within the institution, in particular IT and Education and Student Affairs (E&SA). The IT department supports the use and implementation of applications and software. At E&SA they provide training and support for lecturers in the designing and implementation of courses. The library helps lecturers and students deal with sources of information, from finding information to applying and publishing it. That triangle is important for sharing knowledge. It may not be a magic wand, but I know how to tell lecturers who can help them with certain expertises. That comes close.”

What does it mean for your institution to be a member of the Acceleration Zone?

Michiel: “It is interesting to hear what strategies other institutions use when it comes to open digital educational resources. Some institutions are trying to generate enthusiasm step by step. They first let lecturers work together on educational resources. Once the people are used to making and publishing materials together in their own environment, they want to encourage them to publish openly.

We started looking for lecturers with a desire to publish their educational resources openly. Through the acceleration zone we have gained the insight that we can also support the group that wants to produce educational resources. Both groups benefit from using existing materials to save time. If it’s not available online, they know it makes sense to make it themselves That may also motivate them to share.

We also like to hear from the other institutions about what they need to use our materials. Together we explore which platforms, communities and standards we can use best for sharing educational resources. If there is consensus on this, it is easier to collaborate on a larger scale on open educational resources with other institutions.”

What do you hope the zone will have achieved in four years?

Michiel: “By that time we will have succeeded in establishing a personal approach regarding the students using digital educational resources. Cohorts in higher education are becoming larger and larger. It is not possible to guide everyone one-on-one in a personal learning process, unless a digital infrastructure is created that sufficiently supports this. Open educational resources also offer students more control over their learning process. For example, they can learn to collect and assess materials themselves. The library is central to this process.”

Nicole: “Within the zone, we also conduct research into developing a vision for open educational resources. What do you need to share openly? I think we can help institutions accelerate a culture of openness. This culture change is just as important as a digital infrastructure.”

Original text: Marjolein van Trigt

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