EPIC: Report on day 1

EPIC has started! Hundreds of educational pioneers and innovators came together in Rotterdam on the first day. We look back on a successful and inspiring day. Read the report of day one here.

You can read the report of day 2 or day 3 here.

Opening by Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf and Arthur Mol

The opening was provided by Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf and Arthur Mol (Rector Magnificus at WUR), led by chairperson Emmelie Zipson. They discussed the importance of innovation in education. They agreed very much that the Acceleration Plan has had immense power in bringing institutions together. Connecting people, experimenting and now scaling up the innovations are huge results gained in the last three years. Mr Dijkgraaf even said that The Netherlands is a leader in the world in this respect. A compliment that goes out to all educational innovators that have contributed to the Acceleration Plan. 

Keynote by Adam Finkelstein of McGill University

“Learning environments are access points for changing teaching and learning”.

The room was packed during the inspiring keynote by Adam Finkelstein of McGill University in Montreal. He started with a question for the audience; ‘I learn best when…’. Various reactions came from the audience such as ‘happy’, ‘alone’ or ‘concentrated’. He took us along on the change they are making at McGill University. From boring outdated lecture halls and classrooms to an inspiring learning environment for both students and lecturers. Not all in a row in a lecture hall but on different levels with rotating chairs so that cooperation is stimulated. How do you ensure that students enjoy coming to lectures again post-pandemic? And how do we support the lecturers in this?

Session: A Quickscan to accelerate the use of study data

Tom Konings and Justian Knobbout from the zone Secure and reliable use of education data explain how you can use the quick scan for education data to know at what level of maturity your institution is, what your ambition is and what steps you can take to reach your ambition. Dialogue with colleagues from different disciplines is key. Heleen van der West (Radboud University) talked about the use of AI and learning analytics in self-regulated learning in the FLORA lighthouse project. Students are given AI-based feedback about their actions during a 45-minute task of writing an essay. The AI taps from data streams generated in the application that was used to do the task. The dashboard for students is being evaluated and further improved.

Session: AI in education; innovations within the classroom

Duuk Baten from SURF and John Walker from the working group EdTech for educational innovation talked about the possibilities of using AI in education. Their question for the audience was ‘what do we think about AI in education? Do you use it already?’ Most participants are interested in the subject, only a few already use AI in their institution and half the group has some questions about using it within education. Both Duuk and John talked about examples of applications which might be used in education such as Perusall and the chatbot Jill Watson. What does it mean for students and lecturers if it will be used? It raises a lot of questions that are open for discussion. 

Session: Beyond programmes; an infrastructure for a ‘lonely planet’ study approach.

Flexibilization of vocational and higher education might easily be the most discussed subject during EPIC. Ulrike Wild of the zone Making education more flexible made it very clear that it is technically possible to enrol students in courses at other institutions. Using EduXchange the institutions can work through the enrollment procedures flawless. In the small pilot, even more, students enrolled in courses offered at the 3 participating universities than expected. So far the answer to the question if students want this. This is also important for the even more quickly changing labour market.  

Institutions now face a lot of serious questions regarding finances and the staffing of courses. But shouldn’t this be solved quickly and pragmatic when this gives a boost to flexible and personal education? 

Session: Searching for a new balance between digital and non-digital education.

How to connect the students that are attending a class at the institution with the students at home? And especially: how to engage the students that are still in their pyjama as Jessica Zweers and Olaf Wouters put it.  

They came up with a very interesting didactical and technical format. The three groups working at the location were discussing different (but related) subjects and wrote down their conclusions on a big paper sheet. With a camera, the remote students, the so-called active spectators, could see the conclusions of each of the three groups. It was their task to formulate the overall conclusions after analyzing the input. In this way, all students are very active and stay focused. Peer learning can keep the students that are not able to attend a meeting connected.  

Panel discussion: ‘Vision for the future’

With Jet de Ranitz (CEO of SURF), Sarah Wilton (Executive board Avans University of Applied Sciences), and Thomas van der Meer (Board member ISO).

The panel discussed their vision for the future based on three statements. 

Thomas van der Meer: “We can’t know what education looks like in 2032, we didn’t know today’s education back in 2012. What I think is that we should invest all the time and money to ensure we”ll the best possible education we can have in 2032”.

Jet de Ranitz: “Even if we go to the supermarket there’s a coherence to what we put in our shopping cart, we want to make dinner at the end of the day. The same goes for courses and degrees.”

EPIC content

Keep an eye on the EPIC page in the coming weeks, as we’ll be sharing some more EPIC content. You can also read the report of day 2 or day 3

Image: De Beeldredaktie / Marcel Krijgsman

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