Disruptive learning


Arthur Mol of Wageningen University & Research has been chair of the Acceleration Plan steering group since September. Arthur wrote this column for the September edition of the newsletter.

“Six months ago, the campuses of Dutch universities and colleges closed their physical doors. Our crisis management teams were prepared for many scenarios, but not for a disruptive piece of DNA. It’s tempting to draw up an (interim) balance, just six months later.

What has COVID-19 changed in the world of education? What do teachers and students think of the current situation? What lessons can we learn from the changes we have gone through? Which innovations will remain? And which ones will (probably) not? Where should innovations be further radicalized? And what do these lessons mean for the future of higher education?

Every university and college is currently working on answers to those questions. All the while we’re still in the middle of a stormy development. I’d like to carefully formulate a few preliminary lessons……:

  • The value of physical, face-to-face education and thus of the campus as a learning environment, has been reaffirmed. “Online only” has its limitations.
  • It turns out, we can do much more with IT in high-quality higher education than many lecturers, students, and education administrators thought possible before this crisis. This is the case for example when it comes to feedback, tutoring, exams, practical training, tutorials, and lectures.
  • We’re going to invest much more in making our educational processes digital and robust. Investing in systems and technology, in teachers and support, in didactical knowledge and skills.
  • Collaboration between higher education institutions is essential for the exchange of experiences, joint development of, and investment in, innovations, setting up flexibility between institutions, developing common standards, and developing platforms.

COVID-19 has changed education forever. However, we now know better what changes we would like to keep. The design, implementation, and details of a new educational practice will keep us – teachers, students, and administrators – busy for a while to come, as we still have a lot to learn. I believe it’ll be beneficial if undertake these learning processes together, and I believe the Acceleration Plan makes an important contribution to this.”

Arthur wrote this column for the September newsletter of the Acceleration Plan. Read the entire newsletter here.

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