Looking back on 2019: The zone Digital educational resources


Looking back on 2019: Robert from the zone Digital educational resources

The first year of the Acceleration Plan is over. In a series of interviews we look back on 2019 with the leaders of the zones. In this edition: Robert Schuwer, from Fontys University of Applied Sciences, leader of the zone Towards digital (open) educational resources.


What were your expectations when you started with the zone?

I see the Acceleration Zone as an enormous opportunity to advance Dutch education in the field of digital educational resources and in particular to focus on the intertwining of open and closed educational resources. My expectations were in line with the expectations of the other participants. Our first activity was to translate our expectations into the formulation of an ambition. We want to ensure that both lecturers and students encounter as few obstacles as possible in compiling and using an optimal mix of educational resources.

What did you do last year?

We have investigated in which areas we need to take action and in which areas we can connect with existing initiatives. We want to connect to activities that are already taking place as much as possible. We also had a study carried out into the current state of the use of digital educational resources, and a study that specifically deals with the re-use of open educational resources.

In a process with all stakeholders, we have outlined a shared and therefore supported picture of what will happen in 2035. What about learning and the role of educational resources? In addition, there are all kinds of activities in progress, such as an inventory of existing platforms for sharing digital educational resources, drawing up requirements for such a platform and testing a possible candidate platform.

What do you think is the greatest success of 2019?

Formulating our ambition and drawing up the corresponding thinking model. That thinking model is very powerful. If you keep that in mind, you can tell your story and it is clear what everyone’s role in it can be. That appeals to the audience.

The second success are the results of the studies that we had conducted. We wanted to base our follow-up activities on what is already happening and what is needed. That picture has become clear.

Where can we find the thinking model?

There are slides available from our presentation at the OE Global in Milan where we presented the thinking model, but they are not up on the website of the Acceleration Plan yet. A lesson learned is that we have to share more with the outside world. We have since set up a communication and dissemination working group that deals with this.

How do you look back on the process that the zone went through last year?

It was a learning process. We started with an enthusiastic group of people, but after some time the energy ran a bit low, because it sometimes proved difficult to mobilise our own supporters. Institutions join a zone without realising exactly what the commitment entails. That is why we did not get as far as we would have liked. Once the causes of the energy loss were clear, we managed to tackle them. The involvement and energy is back and concrete activities are being undertaken.

What should the team do more?

Manage national activities. Some things are important to do, but they do not stem from the ambitions of the institutions that we focused on in 2019. An example of such a topic is contact with publishers. We have established a number of working groups for topics that will be tackled nationally.

What should the team do less?

Manage on micro activities of individual institutions or cooperating institutions. The zone is only facilitating in this. We are also not going to force collaborations, because the pace of the institutions differs. Even if you have the same goals in mind, it would mean that one institution has to slow down to accelerate the other.

Is your zone on the right track to reach the ambitions for 2020?

I hope we can maintain the energy and speed that we have now. In that case we are on the right track. The only uncertainty is the connection between open and closed educational resources. The Accelerating Together zone is taking responsibility there, because that is a quite unruly area.

What will be achieved by the end of 2022?

Then there is a platform on which sharing educational resources is supported. You will also find the materials that your colleagues only want to share within their own institution. There is a great need for that. It is also urgently needed to put together the optimum mix of educational resources.

In addition, we will realise many supporting artifacts. They can be documents about the use of educational resources, but also tools. For example, we are working on a copyright tool that can be used in the learning environment. If a lecturer provides closed learning material, the tool points out the costs and open alternatives.

And in 2035?

What is now produced by the zone will prove to be a good basis for tailoring education much more to individual student. Artificial intelligence will play a greater role in personalised choices. That is how we formulated it in our infographic #hoeleerjij? I also expect that by that time lecturers will have much more knowledge of what digital educational resources can do for them.

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