Logistic knowledge applied to organising the educational process
We are in the midst of a great change in education: the transfer to personalised teaching and learning. It is not easy to organise this. How do you ensure that each child can learn at the right moment and according to their needs? Inspiration and knowledge derived from logistics may help solve this problem. In collaboration with students and a large network of secondary schools, researchers associated with the University of Groningen (RUG) are working on this issue.
The aim of the Lean for Secondary Education project is to develop new logistic techniques together for the purpose of organising personalised teaching. Knowledge of logistics is demonstrated in many places in our society, for instance, in ports. ‘While it is possible to handle all the containers on a vessel separately, we can also cluster containers with similar properties’, Professor Iris Vis explained. These insights can also be placed in an educational context. This provides inspiration for the development of techniques which can identify clusters of pupils based on, for instance, speed of learning and progress. Such a group can then be coupled with the right teacher.
The added value of scientific research
The researchers cooperate with the Zo.Leer.Ik! schools network , which comprises representatives of secondary schools adopting personalised teaching and learning. Wim Kokx, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Vlaardingen Schiedam public school group (Openbare Scholengroep Vlaardingen Schiedam) is the chairman of the Zo.Leer.Ik! network. He related: ‘The educational landscape has been the same for a hundred years with regard to the way in which we organise instructions and go over and test learning content. Personalised teaching and learning is about the question: how can we bring teaching and learning better into line with the pupils? The cooperation between the schools’ network and RUG provides insight into how we should tackle this organisational-wise, for instance, where the use of timetables is concerned.’
Knowledge where human beings play a part
The question asked by schools is, by the same token, a request for a new fundamental research study into developing logistic models in which human beings are at the centre, because the issue of education is about pupils. A good example in this context is incorporating pupils' choice behaviour in making predictions about which class a pupil wishes to attend. ‘By the way, the Operations Research Group which conducts the research has more experience with research on logistics and the role of human beings in service-related sectors, such as the healthcare sector and libraries’, Prof. Vis said.
The first findings
The first findings have now been published in a research report. This report (only available in Dutch) contains the first findings which have been delivered about adoption of logistic knowledge in the core educational processes of secondary schools. This research includes major building blocks such as the conceptualisation and visualisation of personalised teaching and learning as well as the simulation and development of new coordinating rules. This means that the research clearly signals more demand-driven scientific research in this direction. Hence, the Zo.Leer.Ik! network and RUG partnership has still quite a lot to learn. Will the new organisational form also last for one hundred years?