Profielfoto Johanna de Groot

Johanna de Groot

Programme manager

These are interesting times for biologists. Clearly for the virologists, immunologists, and epidemiologists. But also for biologists who, like me, have drifted a little from their field. The glasses through which you learn to look when you study biology also colour my perception of what is going on currently. The evolution of the COVID-19 virus, the ‘race’ between the adaptations the virus undergoes, and our immune system. The functioning of vaccines, from the first-defence of antibodies to memory T-cells. Once I was in the middle of it scientifically, now I read about it daily in the newspaper.

The Acceleration Plan is also evolving. We started out with the Acceleration Plan under very different circumstances. At the time, a lot was possible with technology and we though it’d great if we could innovate together and make more use of the possibilities of technology in higher education!

In the meantime, the use of technology in education has become commonplace, and the question shifts more and more to what exactly we want to achieve with the use of digitalisation in education and how we can find the balance between risks and opportunities. The COVID-19 crisis forced us to face the facts: online education is great, but we really can’t do without physical education. Earlier, we observed we might lose control of education if we don’t join forces with the big tech companies. And we found out that all the possibilities for making education more flexible through digitalisation mean we have to discuss where to draw the line, because an education can’t be a grab bag.

Last year, we published the transition agenda for higher education ‘Learning to digitise’. For me, the conclusion of the agenda is that we need to set new boundaries so we can use digitalisation to allow higher education to develop in the direction we want it to. How can we use digitalisation to narrow the gap between higher and lower educated people? Or to tackle the ever-increasing study stress and work pressure? Now we have jointly discovered all the possibilities of digitalisation in education, we can deploy all this knowledge and the instruments in a more focused way.

If we manage to do this in the coming years, digitalisation in education will become endemic. It’ll no longer keep us awake at night, because we’ll have found a new balance. Hopefully, that’ll also be the case for the COVID-19 virus!

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash.

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