IT’s penetration into society is going faster and deeper than ever before. At the same time, the possibilities that IT offers are growing at an unprecedented rate. This has major consequences on how people live, work and learn. Nobody can predict how the digital transformation will change higher education in the next ten years, but one thing we know for sure is that it will have a major impact.
We have every reason to invest heavily in using technology to accelerate educational innovation in higher education in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a compact, highly developed and well-organised country with excellent physical and digital infrastructures. This special combination of characteristics gives our country the unique opportunity to be at the forefront of educational innovation worldwide.
All educational institutions in the Netherlands will make (substantial) investments in digitisation and educational innovation in the coming years, and will encounter difficult issues in this. Higher education is faced with the challenge of taking advantage of the opportunities that digital technology offers:
In addition, higher education must cope with the risks and threats posed by digitisation:
The Acceleration Plan recognises that digitisation offers great opportunities for higher education in the Netherlands and that it can contribute to the quality of education. The mission of the Acceleration Plan is to create space within the institutions and in collaboration with other universities and colleges to take substantial steps in the field of digitisation in higher education.
The Acceleration Plan marks the step that Dutch universities, colleges and SURF are taking together to join forces and realise ambitions at an accelerated pace.
The four-year programme runs from 2019 to 2022 and is based on three ambitions:
The Acceleration Plan also strengthens the position of Dutch higher education in an international context when it comes to educational innovation with technology. Especially the national cooperation that characterises the Acceleration Plan is unique in an international context.
Nineteen institutions participate in the Facilitation and professionalization of teachers zone. The zone focuses on the pivot of educational innovation: the teacher. How can that teacher be supported meaningfully with knowledge, skills and facilities to make optimal use of the possibilities of ICT in education?
The productive collaboration between the professional field, education and research in the field of digitization is central to the zone Strengthening digital human capital. An ‘open collective circle’, in which the team works closely with input from outside, is characteristic of our working method. In this way we want to ensure that higher education and the labor market are optimally geared to each other.
With seventeen participating institutions, the Flexibilization of Education zone is one of the largest zones of the Acceleration Plan. Flexibility is a multidisciplinary issue with educational, organizational and technological facets. The zone team takes an integral view of flexible education, reasoning from the student journey. Each institution chooses its own focus, in line with its own dynamics.
The team of the Towards digital (open) learning materials zone has the ambition to ensure that by 2023 teachers and students have the opportunity to use an optimal mix of learning materials in learning and educational processes. The team is exploring what is needed to realize this ambition and is working on concrete solutions for teachers and students who want to get started.
The zone Secure and reliable use of education data works on creating the right preconditions for analysing education data. They look at the steps required to make analyses safe, reliable and valid, but also at organisational preconditions – such as strategy, privacy and HR – and at possibilities for analyses at a national level.
This Evidence-informed team strives to strengthen the knowledge infrastructure for knowledge on educational innovation with ICT to make sure this knowledge is used and accumulated by lecturers, educational support staff and researchers.
The initiatives of the acceleration plan contribute to the transition of Dutch higher education to a higher education that seizes the opportunities of digitisation. This transition requires a dialogue between administrators, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, NVAO, NWO, KNAW, NRO and other stakeholders in Dutch higher education. This zone, which consists of sixteen board members from various colleges and universities, is working on this.
Due to the pandemic, location and time independent testing is high on the agenda. There is still a world to be won in the field of remote testing. That is why the Remote Testing working group is committed to bundling knowledge development around this subject, and is looking ahead to the future by developing a vision on this theme.
During the closure of educational institutions due to the corona crisis, the switch to online education was made in a short time. One of the most important themes for which a solution had to be found was the digital provision of education in practical skills. This concerns, for example, domain-specific motor skills in interaction with people, animals, instruments and machines, which are difficult to learn online. How do you organize online education? A new issue that currently has no specific place in the Acceleration Plan.
The developments in the EdTech sector (Educational Technology) can make a significant contribution to accelerating educational innovation. However, there are many barriers for EdTech companies, such as complex laws and regulations, lack of standardization and risk aversion in support departments. As a result, real educational innovation with EdTech remains fragmented, and there is often a lack of alignment with the needs and expectations of students and lecturers. The EdTech team wants to change this situation and make the Netherlands a fertile breeding ground for (starting) EdTech companies.
Each zone/working group in the Acceleration Plan has one, or more Acceleration Teams as needed. These acceleration teams form the core of the Acceleration Plan. An acceleration team consists of one or more captains and several team members. Captains and team members are employed by the university or college they represent. In addition to the work in the zone, they have an important task in their own institution to further the innovation in the acceleration zone in their institution. In addition, the team members work on common ambitions. The acceleration teams themselves determine, in the context of existing (national) developments, which issues they want to address, which planning they follow and which approach they choose to achieve concrete, scalable results. Acceleration teams can call on a support team to realize their ambitions.
The support team has technical, policy and legal expertise and deploys this flexibly and demand-driven to support the acceleration teams. The support team helps to make the results and experiences of an acceleration team benefit all institutions. In addition, the support team makes connections between all the questions they receive in order to support the acceleration teams as efficiently as possible.
The team that will direct the Acceleration Plan for Educational Innovation with ICT for the next four years consists of a program team and a steering group. The program team consists of employees of the The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Universities of the Netherlands and SURF. They facilitate the acceleration teams, the support team and the steering committee. The steering committee is responsible for determining the overarching ambition and ensures that it is achieved. The steering group consists of:
Hans Nederlof and Anka Mulder on behalf of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences
Arthur Mol (chairman) and Hester Bijl on behalf of the Association of Universities
Jet de Ranitz on behalf of SURF
Nol van Gerven on behalf of the Landelijke Studentenvakbond (LSVb)
Thomas van der Meer on behalf of the Interstedelijk Studentenoverleg (ISO)
Taco Fens is on behalf of the Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW) member of the steering committee.
The budget of the Acceleration Plan consists of investments made by institutions, investments made by VSNU, VH and SURF and a contribution from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Each institution participating in the Acceleration Plan invests a substantial amount annually on the theme of the zone in which the institution participates. For a large institution this is at least € 250,000 per year per zone, for smaller institutions different minimum amounts apply depending on the size of the institution. This investment can be in the form of ongoing programs or projects and these funds remain within the institution. If an institution wants to participate in different zones, the total own investment will be higher.
In addition, institutions invest in collaboration in the acceleration teams, by freeing up employees for this. There is no reporting or accountability obligation on the resources invested in the own institution towards the Acceleration Plan, an annual concise substantiation of the minimum investment and substantive progress is sufficient.
The leaders of the zones, the support team and programme management are financed from the programme budget, which is provided by SURF, VSNU, VH and OCW. A program budget is also available for the dissemination of the results of the eight acceleration zones to all universities (of applied sciences).
Author: Berent Daan, programme director Digitalisation Catalyst When I came across the vacancy for the Programme Director of the Digitalisation
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