Looking back on 2019: The zone Professional development


Looking back on 2019: Ronald and Kim from the zone Professional development

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: Kim Schildkamp (University of Twente) and Ronald Spruit (Avans University of Applied Sciences), leaders of the zone Facilitating professional development for lecturers.

What were your expectations when you started with the zone?

Kim: I thought it was exciting. For example, I wondered how people with an ICT background and people with expertise in lecturer professionalisation would find each other. It soon became clear, however, that ICT is a tool to everyone and that lecturer professionalisation is central, aiming for improving the quality of education.

Ronald: The kick-off showed that all participants in our zone were faced with the same questions. What do we mean by ‘lecturer professionalisation’? What is our purpose? What impact can we make? How do we accelerate? (laughs) The challenge was to formulate a common ambition and to develop one language.

Kim: The first months were a struggle. ‘Lecturer professionalisation in the field of educational innovation with ICT’ – I think just that one sentence contains three very broad concepts. Then what are you going to do together? We’ve had many discussions about this. After a few months, we found our focus and now we have a nice plan that everyone supports, with different themes that members are working on.

What have you done in the past year?

Kim: We have started looking for definitions. We have identified a number of themes (Good examples, Effective lecturer professionalisation, Testing grounds, Integrated approach and Strategy at sector level) and we have linked a number of objectives to this. As team leaders, we deal with the theme of Strategy, among other things. We have discussions with the Association of Universities (VSNU) and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH) to see whether educational innovation with ICT can be included in the competences of the Basic Qualification Education (BKO) and the Basic Qualification Didactic Competence (BDB). We are realistic enough to know that otherwise, you will never reach all lecturers. We have already been invited by the VH to make a proposal on how the competencies can be anchored in the BDB. We will visit VSNU next year. With regard to the BKO, we expect a little more challenge, because universities often value their freedom more. Also, there still are people who wonder whether a lecturer needs IT as a means to provide good education. Of course, we believe so. Without IT you can’t prepare students for their lives after their studies.

Ronald: Ever since the SURF Education Days, we have also been thinking about whether we should make lecturer professionalisation more flexible. Now it is often rather supply-driven. More flexibility might lead to lecturers continuing to develop themselves, also after the BDB and BKO, in line with their own learning needs. It is important that this development is recognised, for example in the form of an edubadge, and that professionalisation also counts for a promotion or an annual interview.

What do you think is the greatest success of 2019?

Ronald: We mainly worked on concrete products. We have developed a lot, asked for and received feedback, including at conferences and the SURF Education Days. Because we often opt for rapid prototyping principles, we can make adjustments quickly. This way we prevent disappointments. But of course you must always remain critical.

Kim: The Education Days were great. It was not easy to form a team and to formulate common goals, but on the Education Days I felt that we really had become a team: everyone was there, everyone was proud of what we had achieved. That was a turning point.

What do you take with you into 2020?

Kim: We must build on everything that we started in 2019. What I find very important is that we work in an evidence-informed manner. Either we work on the basis of research, or we follow a rapid prototyping approach and we try something new and we investigate that. We have hired two researchers who, among other things, will examine all the testing grounds. What works and under what circumstances? All this knowledge will soon be available for all institutions: in a toolkit, vlogs, lists of preconditions, do’s and don’ts, you name it.

Ronald: We want to share our returns quickly, trusting that others will benefit from it.

What will you have achieved by 2022?

Kim: In 2022, educational innovation with ICT will have become a basic competence in BDB and BKO. Nobody can escape it anymore; all new lecturers have to do something with it. I hope that we also have a whole palette of testing grounds, with all kinds of professionalisation building blocks on the one hand and innovations on the other. If an institution wants to get started with digital peer feedback or with digital tests, they go to the NRO platform and collect everything they need with just one touch of a button.

Ronald: And lecturers will be able to earn edubadges with it.

Kim: By then we have also achieved that all institutions use the motion sensor every so often or at least the institutions that participated in the zone. And that all educational services and ICT coaches have evaluated themselves based on our building blocks. We are also working on the professionalisation of professional trainers!

Ronald: By 2022 we’ll have achieved that lecturers have confidence in their own IT skills and that they can justify the choices they make didactically. In the beginning, we heard a lot of people talking about lack of confidence in using IT. To me, it seems an illusion to believe that this will no longer happen in 2022, but if we can contribute to making lecturers feel more competent, we are satisfied.

Kim: Ultimately, professionalisation ensures that the quality of education improves and the students benefit from it.

Are we on the right track to achieve that?

Kim: Yes! Also, don’t forget that we have the wind in our backs. There are nineteen institutions in our zone; SURF, VH, and VSNU are on board; resources are available. We just have to think carefully about how we can optimally use that wind.

In 10 years, what do you hope is still visible from the work of the zone?

Ronald: That lecturer professionalisation with regard to educational innovation with ICT is no longer an issue. By then we wonder what we made such a fuss about.

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