EPIC: Report on day II

The second day at EPIC was EdTech Tuesday. A day full of interesting and inspiring talks, workshops and sessions about using EdTech in education. But also topics like flexible education, public values and the connection with the labour market were represented today. Read the report of day two here. 

Keynote by Dirk Van Damme

Dirk Van Damme (PhD, Ghent University) kicked off the second day of EPIC with an inspiring talk about the importance of developing generic and interdisciplinary skills. There is especially a need for non-routine skills. Students should be trained for the unexpected since everything is changing more quickly. Life long learning was Dirks’ other focus. Our educational system, and especially higher education, should aim more at preparing students for the demands of the labour market and society. As a graduate, you still need to be a master of your field but you also need to be able to transfer this knowledge to another field. Changing vocational and higher education is a steady process that sometimes takes a bit longer, but no worries, with the help of technology we can still achieve big steps. “One of the main challenges in digitalisation is the curriculum. It’s not about how you want them to learn, but how”.

Session: EdTech panel; how to boost European EdTech ecosystem?

Put four people with an opinion together and for sure you will get a lively and interesting conversation. Jelle Kok lead this discussion between Christien Bok (SURF), Mia de Wilde (Thomas More), Bart Corbijn (Drieam) and Farshida Zafar (ErasmusX). Although opinions varied, there was one thing very clear: working together is necessary to innovate and create new functional technology. It goes further than higher education institutions contacting their suppliers. A mind shift is needed in which the focus is on what knowledge can be shared. And that also includes helping start-ups with more experienced businesses. Working together, making mistakes, being courageous and focusing on the challenge should be the general attitude. That will bring education many steps further. 

Session: The foundation for flexible education; curriculum management

Steven Losekoot from Vorsen is presenting on the different types of flexibilisation that he has come across in several higher education institutions in the Netherlands. For all types of flexibilisation, in general, easily accessible information, for example, on learning outcomes, is lacking in the programme or at the institutional level. What is needed to create a foundation on which you can build and scale flexibility? The foundation is used to make a course catalogue, schedules and study planning. For scaling up, policy and standardization are required. Helping students navigate and make choices is key, but in practice is mostly arranged in an old-school way. A lot of collaboration between disciplines is necessary to proceed with flexibilisation, keeping the student in mind at all times. Although many institutions are working on processes and systems to make their programmes more flexible, there is still a lot to be discovered and no real best practices are available yet.

Session: Public Values; we only are our values, so let’s start fighting for them

Christien Bok from SURF talks about standardisation in education which doesn’t seem to fit because we like our autonomy but we should benefit from it. The Bologna agreement arranged for students to obtain their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same level. Maybe now it’s time for a similar agreement on digital infrastructure. We have to build the bridge while walking it and work together. Christien concludes; “I have no idea how to tackle this, but all countries I talk to see the necessity and think we should invest. Please be your own Malcolm McLaren. If you want to join, contact me so we can start a movement”. 

After this, a discussion about using public values in decision-making started. Oliver Janoschka from Hochschulforum Digitalisierung and Duuk Baten from SURF joined on stage and the conversation started with the question “Why do we need to talk about public values?”

Christien: It’s about digital sovereignty. We as public organisations have a task to protect our values against commercial values. Therefore we developed the Value Compass for digital transformation of education.

Oliver: Use unusual formats, for example, the Future Council of the EU, in which random citizens are invited. This means also talking to people or students that don’t get involved by themselves.

Session: How to turn your teachers’ ideas into a real EdTech experiment

Jelle Kok and John Walker from the working group EdTech for educational innovation presented their Maturity model. Using this model as a conversation starter will bring the different parties together. Mutual understanding is key to all innovations. In this way, a safe environment is created in which new technologies can be tested in an educational setting. Don’t forget to fail from time to time, since trying new things will sometimes lead to results that you don’t want. But these results, positive or negative, are always valuable.  

Closing keynote by Roger Dassen

Roger Dassen, CFO at ASML, finished day 2 of EPIC with a great keynote about innovation and collaboration with our eco-system. Innovation is being extremely focused on achieving the goals you set. The key to innovation is a fine balance between the interests of customers, suppliers, research partners, government, people and shareholders. Unite them! 
At ASML they notice that fresh graduates have good technical skills but need to develop professional skills. There is certainly room for improvement. The pace of the innovation process at educational institutions is moving at a slower pace than at some companies. Bringing this pace together would be a great goal. Collaborating between businesses and institutions is key in moving forward in innovation.

You can read the report of day 1 here.
You can read the report of day 3 here.

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