The University of Groningen is the first Dutch university to offer digital taster courses for all its Bachelor’s programmes, giving school-leavers a better basis for deciding which programme to choose. Starting in March 2015, school-leavers can take a free web class in almost any subject. There is room for two thousand prospective students.
A web class is a four-week course, taught in a secure electronic learning environment (Blackboard/Nestor). Students are given a ten-hour introduction to an academic programme to help them choose the programme that is right for them.
The taster course is taught at first-year Bachelor’s level. Participants experience various teaching methods and material; they read texts, do assignments, ‘attend’ online lectures or conduct online discussions with lecturers and fellow students. Assignments are checked by specially appointed student-assistants, who also give feedback. If the assignments are satisfactory, the school-leavers are given a certificate as proof of having taken part.
The University of Groningen started by offering web classes in 2009 for six programmes, including Medicine, Chemistry and Law. The range of courses has since expanded and as of this spring, every programme offers (or is developing) a web class. Many of the web classes are available in English, including Minorities & Multilingualism and Physics. These courses attract interest from across the globe.
The web classes give school-leavers a better understanding of the programmes at university, and most school-leavers are very positive. ‘The University of Groningen is leading the international field in this respect’, says Arjen Dijkstra, who coordinates the web classes. ‘It is the perfect opportunity for school-leavers to prepare themselves for a university study.’
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