Meeting apart together
In November 2019, we met with all members of the Acceleration Plan for the very first time. 24 hours, or actually two days, the event lasted. Two days of getting acquainted, exchanging thoughts, knowledge and ideas, making connections, and looking for collaboration. The 24-hour session was a great success and everyone was looking forward to this year’s edition in October. But October was still so far away, so we wanted to meet in May to keep in touch and to continue to learn from each other. But COVID-19 had other plans. And so we did our Spring Meeting online.
Q&A session with zone leaders
We kicked off the Spring Meeting with an online Q&A session with the leaders of the zones. For this occasion, they have pre-recorded a video with an update about their zone. Many of them also focussed on what the COVID-19 crisis means for their zone. Based on the videos, the members of the zones could send in questions for the team leaders. Johanna then interviewed the team leaders during a live Q&A session. Lively discussions arose in the chat as well, and people sent smiley faces and thumbs up to show they were happy to meet each other digitally. Below are a few highlights of the Q&A.
Zone Towards digital (open) educational resources
Robert Schuwer, team leader of the Towards digital (open) educational resources zones, among other things, talked about the zone’s contribution to the Online Education Community, where information is disclosed about how best to make, share, and reuse educational resources. Robert argues – just after the COVID-19 crisis – for this information to be preserved. “Materials that have been collected and created due to the crisis should be preserved and kept up-to-date on a national platform, even if we would go back to normal. Then we can benefit from knowledge gained by large groups during this crisis.”
Zone Better connection to the job market
Caroline van de Molen, team leader of the Better connection to the job market zone, discussed the economic sector analysis to which the zone is contributing at the request of The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences: “In the economic sector, for example, we often hear people say: ‘we need more IT staff’, but in the end, it often turns out that they need commercial economists and logistics managers who need more IT training. It’s not just about IT, but also about the combination of specific domain knowledge with digital skills.” Caroline also talked about the infographics the zone has developed with best practices for the collaboration between higher education institutions and the job market.
Zone Secure and reliable use of learning analytics
Theo Bakker, team leader of the Secure and reliable use of learning analytics zone, kicked off with a consideration of the current situation in COVID-19 time: “Many measures have been taken and now questions arise about the impact, for example: Are students now doing better, worse or just as well through online education? In addition, a lot of extra data is created, but at many institutions, it’s not yet arranged that you can easily research that date. Precisely because that data comes close to the students, it fits in well with the privacy framework we are working on.” Connector Iris Huis in ‘t Veld added: “We’re in a kind of pressure cooker that exposes various interests. There are many concerns, for example about online proctoring. How do you anticipate those concerns? That’s a question we want to solve by developing a national framework for the responsible use of learning analytics.”
Zone Making education more flexible
Paul den Hertog, leader of the zone Making education more flexible together with Ulrike Wild, discussed, among other things, the impact of the one-and-a-half meter society on flexibilisation and educational logistics. Paul: “For example, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences has about 30,000 students that travel to campus through metro station Weesperplein, and the University of Amsterdam has another 10,000 to 15,000. The sidewalk cannot even handle that with a distance of 1.5 meters between people. So you have to ask yourself: how many employees and students can be in a building without creating traffic jams? It is difficult to come up with a generic solution for this.” In addition, Paul briefly explained the Student Mobility pilot, in which Wageningen University&Research, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Utrecht University work together to make a number of courses available to students from all three institutions. Paul: “The great thing about these three universities is that they are really complementary in terms of their profile, so that makes it a very rich learning environment for the student.”
Zone Accelerating educational innovation with EdTech
Jelgar de Wilde, leader of the zone Accelerating educational innovation with EdTech, talked about the zone’s validation programme to help EdTech startups with concrete ideas to grow. In addition, many of the institutions participating in the zone offer pre-validation programmes to prepare startups for upscaling. When asked whether this also focuses on solutions for the challenges of the Corona crisis, Jelgar said: “We do not want to provide too many restrictions, so that we do not obstruct or exclude surprising ideas.” Jelgar also briefly talked about TripAdvisor app that the zone wants to create, to allow institutions to share information about their experiences with EdTech companies and products.
Zone Facilitating professional development for lecturers
Ronald Spruit, team leader of the Facilitating professional development for lecturers team, together with Kim Schildkamp, mainly discussed the national expertise centre that is currently being discussed. Ronald: “We see the crisis is now putting a lot of pressure on the support of lecturers, concerning questions about, for example, testing and digital didactics and the like. A lot of information is exchanged between lecturers and professionals on social media and websites too, but we thought: can we collect that expertise and also focus on practical application? A national expertise centre could contribute to this.” Ronald concluded with: “We can depend a lot on the professional development of lecturers in the field of IT, but we want to manage the expectations of what our zone can achieve. Facilitation of lecturers takes cooperation and must take place within the institutions.
The second part of the meeting was devoted to the story of Luuk and Erik Ex, who travelled from Finland to Singapore to visit schools. Curious? Read more here!