Interview

Networks are worth their weight in gold

Interview

Peter Dekker from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

The news that the institutions were to be closed didn’t come like a surprise to anyway. Not at least to Peter Dekker. He and his teammates were already somewhat prepared for this transformation. Peter is a blended learning specialist at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA). He works at the HvA Academy and the DLO Innovation Partners (Digital Learning Environment). These internal networks within the organisation proved invaluable.

Professional development: interview Peter Dekker“During the current learning pathways, such as the basic qualification in didactic competence (BDB), we had already looked into whether we could move education to online. education. THis turned out to be possible. On Monday16 March, we we able to switch to online education immediately. We were also able to do this for the training of our teaching staff. I’m quite proud of that achievement.”

Super operation

However, he outlines, it was an operation of epic proportions. The Executive Board had set up a COVID-19 task force and announced in information bulletins what the pandemic meant for our institution. “It also contained concrete guidelines, whilst at the same time faculties were given a lot of space to implement them,” says Peter. Networks within the organisations, which Peter partly coordinates, turned out to be worth their weight in gold. On the day the institutions closed, the DLO Innovation Partners – a team of people from the Education Labs, teachers, and educationalists – launched a site with a lot of information about digital didactics and tooling.

“Within a weekend we succeeded in setting up online education. At the large faculties, they quickly created a kind of prototypical educational scenario, from project education to learning communities. That knowledge was then shared between the labs,” Peter tells us.

Blended or online?

“Every faculty has an Education Lab,” Peter explains. “There you’ll find educationalists who know how digital didactics work. And there are ICTO coaches who have the didactic background to support teachers.”

The Education Labs played a structurally important role in the transformation from offline to online. For teacher teams, for example, who had to make a choice between blended education or online education. Central lunch sessions and webinars were used to discuss topics such as online testing and student counselling. New teachers received help with the transition through image coaching, which is part of the BDB process. From that moment onwards, this was done fully online, focussing on the one question: How are you going to teach online? People would share their practices. For example, one teacher recorded a piece of his online teaching and how he welcomed students to his sessions. This relates to social presence in educating.”

Little social bonding

But not everything went smoothly. Students complained about online education. The social component was weak. “Online education requires a different didactic way of working from teachers and not everyone would have quickly mastered this.” The teacher teams were able to turn to the Education Labs for this, but this didn’t happen in all cases. “So some situations kept simmering for a while.”

There were also gaps in the Academy’s training offer, including vision pathways. And there’s still little time for regular professionalisation activities.

Image coaching successful

Image coaching, aimed at digital didactics, turned out to be a great success, says Peter. “About two hundred teachers have signed up for the coaching trajectory. We now call these relay learning groups and have rolled this out throughout the institution – regardless of the exsisting BDB trajectory.” He expects even more teachers to sign up. “This is a very good form for professional development.”

Clarity

What has contributed to this is the fact the Executive Board indicated before the summer that the coming academic year would be dominated by blended education. So everyone knew what was coming and what we had to work towards. Peter: “The message was: truly convert your curriculum to online, with blended pieces. This message brought clarity and peace of mind. Everyone knew where they stood and what was expected of them. So before the holidays started and after we returned to work, all teacher teams worked hard on a complete change of content. It’s all about redesigning education.”

Production street knowledge clips

In the meantime, learning programs for managers at the AUAS Academy have also shifted to online. A two-day work conference was conducted in a day-long online conference, with breakout rooms and webinars with guest speakers. Other original initiatives are also emerging within the university of applied sciences. “Training has started with a production line to help teachers make knowledge clips. In the morning you talk to a designer and make a blueprint for the knowledge clip. You practice for an hour and then you go into the studio, where the knowledge clip is recorded. Afterwards, a technician will start working on it. And by the end of the day, you’ll have a knowledge clip that you can use in your teaching for three years.”

That is also the challenge for the coming period, Peter expects. “We still have to work very hard to become much better at digital didactics. I hope teachers will experiment with that themselves.”

Interview: Hester Otter

This is part 3 in a series of a total of 6 interviews with participants in the Professional development zone. In the interviews, they share practical experience and inspiration for supporting teachers in educational innovation with ICT.

Tip from Peter:

Encourage teachers to get started with redesigning education. This can be done, for example, by having other teachers give a presentation of their own “design”. This creates an opening to think together about this theme in a creative way.

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