Networks are worth their weight in gold


Peter Dekker from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

The news that the institutions were to be closed didn’t come like a surprise to anyway. Not at least to Peter Dekker. He and his teammates were already somewhat prepared for this transformation. Peter is a blended learning specialist at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA). He works at the HvA Academy and the DLO Innovation Partners(Digital Learning Environment). These internal networks within the organisation proved invaluable..

Docentprofessionalisering Hogeschool van Amsterdam Peter Dekker“During the current learning pathways, such as the basic qualification in didactic competence (BDB), we had already looked into whether we could move education to online. education. THis turned out to be possible. On Monday16 March, we we able to switch to online education immediately. We were also able to do this for the training of our teaching staff. I’m quite proud of that achievement.”

Super operation

However, he outlines, it was an operation of epic proportions. The Executive Board had set up a COVID-19 task force and announced in information bulletins what the pandemic meant for our institution. “It also contained concrete guidelines, whilst at the same time faculties were given a lot of space to implement them,” says Peter. Networks within the organisations, which Peter partly coordinates, turned out to be worth their weight in gold. On the day the institutions closed, the DLO Innovation Partners – a team of people from the Education Labs, teachers, and educationalists – launched a site with a lot of information about digital didactics and tooling.

“Within a weekend we succeeded in setting up online education. At the large faculties, they quickly created a kind of prototypical educational scenario, from project education to learning communities. That knowledge was then shared between the labs,” Peter tells us.

Blended or online?

“Every faculty has an Education Lab,” Peter explains. “There you’ll find educationalists who know how digital didactics work. And there are ICTO coaches who have the didactic background to support teachers.”

The Education Labs played a structurally important role in the transformation from offline to online. For teacher teams, for example, who had to make a choice between blended education or online education. Central lunch sessions and webinars were used to discuss topics such as online testing and student counselling. New teachers received help with the transition through image coaching, which is part of the BDB process. From that moment onwards, this was done fully online, focussing on the one question: How are you going to teach online? People would share their practices. For example, one teacher recorded a piece of his online teaching and how he welcomed students to his sessions. This relates to social presence in educating.”

Little social bonding

But not everything went smoothly. Students complained about online education. The social component was weak. “Online education requires a different didactic way of working from teachers and not everyone would have quickly mastered this.” The teacher teams were able to turn to the Education Labs for this, but this didn’t happen in all cases. “So some situations kept simmering for a while.”

There were also gaps in the Academy’s training offer, including vision pathways. And there’s still little time for regular professionalisation activities.

Image coaching successful

Image coaching, aimed at digital didactics, turned out to be a great success, says Peter. “About two hundred teachers have signed up for the coaching trajectory. We now call these relay learning groups and have rolled this out throughout the institution – regardless of the exsisting BDB trajectory.” He expects even more teachers to sign up. “This is a very good form for professional development.”


What has contributed to this is the fact the Executive Board indicated before the summer that the coming academic year would be dominated by blended education. So everyone knew what was coming and what we had to work towards. Peter: “The message was: truly convert your curriculum to online, with blended pieces. This message brought clarity and peace of mind. Everyone knew where they stood and what was expected of them. So before the holidays started and after we returned to work, all teacher teams worked hard on a complete change of content. It’s all about redesigning education.”

Production street knowledge clips

In the meantime, learning programs for managers at the AUAS Academy have also shifted to online. A two-day work conference was conducted in a day-long online conference, with breakout rooms and webinars with guest speakers. Other original initiatives are also emerging within the university of applied sciences. “Training has started with a production line to help teachers make knowledge clips. In the morning you talk to a designer and make a blueprint for the knowledge clip. You practice for an hour and then you go into the studio, where the knowledge clip is recorded. Afterwards, a technician will start working on it. And by the end of the day, you’ll have a knowledge clip that you can use in your teaching for three years.”

That is also the challenge for the coming period, Peter expects. “We still have to work very hard to become much better at digital didactics. I hope teachers will experiment with that themselves.”

Interview: Hester Otter

* DLO Innovation Partners is an internal initiative of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. The group of consultants (a mix of lecturers, educationalists and ICTO specialists) works partly in the innovation team of the AUAS, partly in one of the seven faculties. DLO Innovation Partners stimulates and facilitates educational innovations with ICT.

This is part 3 in a series of a total of 6 interviews with participants in the Professional development zone. In the interviews, they share practical experience and inspiration for supporting teachers in educational innovation with ICT.

Tip from Peter:

Encourage teachers to get started with redesigning education. This can be done, for example, by having other teachers give a presentation of their own “design”. This creates an opening to think together about this theme in a creative way.

Kick-off: introduction and teams start

From the SURF studio, presenters Egbert Neels (Proeftuinen Proeftuinen of the Lecturer Professionalization zone) and Myrna van de Water (Program Manager AI & Ethics and Samen Duurzaam at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) told what the teams had to develop over the next 24 hours, with the assignment: “We know that student motivation is influenced by the elements of autonomy, social belonging and competence. Think of an AI application that positively influences (one of) these elements within your educational context.” To do this, the teams had to develop a number of components. To be precise: a proof-of-concept, background information on the properties of the AI ​​solution and a reflection on inclusiveness and ethical considerations.

Time to get started. But not before they have learned three more lessons from professor and jury member Kim Schildkamp (University of Twente):

  1. Don’t get lost in all the data. Start with a clear goal and target audience
  2. Pay attention to the quality of data
  3. Think about the degree of control

“We continued through the night finalizing the plan and developing wireframes.” – Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences team

Interim evaluations and night work

After the kick-off, the teams got to work. And that with the help of Jedis: experts who can take your team’s idea to the next level In the meantime, there were regular evaluations, and Egbert rightly remarked: “AI is not for everyone”. This became apparent when people dropped out in teams here and there. Still, many participants continued steadily. Some well into the night, and got up early in the morning for the final round-ups and presentations. Before giving the presentations, the last tips were given about, among other things, ethical considerations surrounding the AI ​​solutions.

“I am very curious how you will look at evidence-informed: how can we ensure that we stay away from the biases.” – Nico Boot, leader zone Evidence-informed educational innovation with ICT

Presentations: surprising AI applications

The teams came up with surprising AI applications. Think of linking apps that measure stress indicators (team Hogeschool Rotterdam, Physiotherapy course) and Questinder – an application to link students with questions about certain professional products in a regional to global network (team Avans Hogeschool). The teams were judged by jury members Kim Schildkamp (University of Twente), Inge Molenaar (Radboud University) and Rob van der Willigen (Hogeschool Rotterdam). Ultimately, the winner was the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences team. The participants were allowed to present their solution on June 29 at the Dutch AI Coalition.

Month of AI in Education

Do you want to know more about AI or are you curious about the other activities of the Month of AI in education?

Go here to look back at the Month of AI

The Hackathon AI is part of the testing grounds of the Teacher Professionalization zone. The Artificial Intelligence Testing Ground will be published shortly as a result of this hackathon. Keep an eye on our website and/or follow us on LinkedInor Twitter!

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