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Projects and Collaborations

In addition to our regular support and course offerings, ESI staff are involved in various projects and collaborations. Discover more information on this page about our efforts in innovative education, (inter)national cooperation and support for teachers.

Active Learning Classrooms

The Active Learning Classrooms (ALC) project aims to create teaching spaces suitable for active learning. Employees from ESI are involved in providing didactic support for the use of these ALCs. This means that we advise teachers and help them (re)design their teaching.

For more information about the project, please email alc

Central Surveillance Pool

Previously, each faculty took care of their own invigilators for their exams. Because of this there were moments that more invigilators are present during the exams than necessary. This was inefficient. 

That is why the University decided that there will be a central surveillance pool in the future. There will be a central coördinator that will plan all invigilators for all faculties. It will depend on the amount of students during a timeslot how many invigilators are deployed. 

At the moment we are working hard to coordinate the plans and instructions with the faculties. They are used to having their own specific rules on how to invigilate. The introduction of the central surveillance pool is a good reason to try to work unambiguously. 

The invigilators will receive new training and instructions. This will take place between September 2023 and January 2024. The complete transition has to be finished on January 1, 2024.

Continuous Improvement of Digital Assessment

We continuously improve our digital assessment environment and our services. In 2023, the entire process has been transferred from Nestor to Brightspace for both students and teachers. In addition, the existing functionalities have been expanded with the option to use applications such as SPSS and Excel during the exam in the Aletta Jacobs Hall.

Team Assessment Support evaluates the results with the aim of providing a better user experience for students and teachers. Our recipe for improvement:

  • We know our customers and talk to both staff and students
  • We use procedures and precision
  • We continuously try to improve and are open to feedback

Do you already use our services for digital exams? Would you like to use our services in the future? Give us feedback or contact us by e-mail: digitaaltoetsen

Examples of recent improvements: 

  • UG grader: A grading tool built by the RUG for grading Written Response questions in Brightspace.
  • Exam Analysis: an analysis tool created by the RUG to analyse and grade Multiple Choice questions.
  • Self-paced module about Assessment for all the lecturers.
  • Training, video’s and manuals regarding how to use Brightspace.
Digital Exams

The Aletta Jacobshal, the big orange building on Zernike, is the building where students take exams at the end of a block. Digital testing at the University of Groningen began in 2015 and has only grown since then. Currently, there are 1,200 fixed workstations where digital exams can be taken. In the future, the university wants to move to 1,800 workstations.

Computer-based examinations allow the instructor to test authentically, eliminate the need for students to write by hand, and make grading more efficient. The instructor can choose to make certain websites, documents, videos, audio or even applications available during the exam. Allowing the exam to better reflect the class material, as well as the future workplace.

Nowadays students take their notes on their laptops and all course materials can be found digitally on Brightspace. With digital examinations, students can type their answers, more easily rewrite sentences, and it is easy for the instructor to read during grading.

Examinations are administered in the Brightspace digital learning environment. Students log in through a special login screen (the exam entrance) and then automatically enter the appropriate exam course. Students see a simplified view of a course and are unable to access any other course beside their exam course from the exam hall. They work in a safe exam environment, which means that they cannot launch other applications during the exam. In addition, other websites are blocked so only their own exam can be accessed from the exam hall.

Mass digital testing in the learning environment makes the university unique. We are constantly trying to improve the process and capabilities so that the student and instructor get the best exam experience. An example is the review tool UG Grader and the Central Surveillance Pool project.

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©UG, photo: Silvio Zangerini
International Cooperation

In addition to collaborating with colleagues both within the University as well as with other Dutch universities, Educational Support and Innovation (ESI) teams regularly work with international partners. We pursue these international projects because they allow us to deepen not only others’ but also our own expertise and learning in providing high-quality educational support in various contexts. These collaborations in return contribute to the professional development of our own staff, which allows us to support the people and programmes of the University of Groningen even better. Our international collaborations have previously been in the following areas of expertise:

University Teacher Education & Educational Workshops

ESI’s instructional coaches, consultants, and trainers in higher education routinely work on both short and long-term projects assisting with the development of university teachers in partner institutions. 

One representative example of this is the recent “Master of Didactics” programme in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Poland. This 5-year project worked with almost 400 university teachers in Poland for a basic teaching qualification as well as an advanced programme focusing on Educational Leadership, Advanced Teaching Qualification, and the sustainability-focused Train the Trainer track, which assists university teachers in becoming educational developers themselves.

Our experienced workshop facilitators have also organised shorter-term workshops and development programmes on more specific educational topics such as:

  • blended and e-learning implementation 
  • active learning in small or large group teaching
  • educational leadership
  • international classrooms
  • supporting workshops (and consulting) for Teaching and Learning Centers 

Educational Development & Consulting

The ESI staff also works on educational projects or provide tailored advice in consultation visits. Some of these visits are related to the previous topics on teacher development, but this includes  joining international cooperation developing support on specific themes. A few examples are:

  • Project START; a European cooperation project on Supporting Teachers Who Support Student Transition.
  • Project Forth, supporting universities in the Philippines to develop a new master program on teaching in difficult areas.
  • Supporting the Universidade Católica de Moçambique with implementing quality assurance procedures and increasing research capacity.
  • Collaborating on educational initiatives in the ENLIGHT European university alliance, which consists of universities from 10 different European countries. 
  • Development of teacher professionalisation programmes.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

ESI has extensive expertise in supporting the design and development of MOOCs for teaching purposes and dissemination to a worldwide audience. Many are part of national and internal projects, such as the following:

More information about MOOC support can be found on the project support website.


For further requests and/or inquiries regarding possible (international) collaboration, please contact Rick Huizinga at r.h.huizinga

National PhD Survey

Pilot national PhD survey 2021

In 2021, eight Dutch universities (including the RUG) included a series of national questions in their own PhD candidate questionnaire as a pilot. This provides national insight into experiences with and satisfaction with various aspects of the PhD process, such as education, guidance, facilities and workload. The most important results are listed on the UNL PhD student survey web page.

In 2023, all fourteen Dutch universities will administer the set of national evaluation questions.

New digital learning environment (FLE)

On September 1st 2022, the University of Groningen switched to a new digital learning environment. After a 20-year period of working with Blackboard, the transition to Brightspace took place.

Implementation of Brightspace

To ensure a smooth transition to Brightspace, the first 20 courses went over to Brightspace as early as February 2022. Another 135 courses were added in April 2022 before fully transitioning to Brightspace in September 2022.

To support the faculties in transferring their course materials to Brightspace, local Brightspace support desks were set up and made available at each faculty. Student assistants played an essential role in providing guidance and assistance to faculty, both in answering questions related to Brightspace and in preparing course materials for the courses.


The transition to a new learning environment presents new opportunities. One of the changes is that a course template has been developed by ESI in collaboration with the faculties and students. This has the advantage that every Brightspace course has the same structure. A survey has shown that students really appreciate the template. It is a lot clearer and it is easier to find information, because every course has the same set-up.

Video platform

In addition to the transition from Blackboard to Brightspace, a transition also took place for the video platform. Lecture recordings will take place in Kaltura starting in September 2022.

New Ocasys

In January 2023, Ocasys 2.0 was released by team ICT for Education. This new version of Ocasys offers all the same functionality as the old version but it is based on new technology and has a fresh look. This release concluded phase 1 of the New Ocasys project. Phase 2 will span the entirety of 2023, during which a few important improvements will be made to the underlying system of Ocasys and its connections to other applications. From January 2024, phase 3 will start and we will start adding new functionalities to Ocasys. The prioritization of these new features will be determined in close collaboration with the faculties.


#ONING is the Onderwijsinnovatie Netwerk Groningen, a collaboration between the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Together, we organize meetings and lectures on interesting innovative educational topics.

The next #ONING event will be held on Tuesday May 14th, 2024 from 15:00-17:00. Its topic will be "Evidence-informed use of the Comproved tool for fostering smooth (peer) assessment".

You can also follow the #ONING LinkedIn group for more regular updates.

UG Grader

Feedback is one of the most important elements of the study process. To support teachers in grading and providing feedback, a review tool has been developed in addition to Brightspace's own review tool.

The UG Grader can be used for grading open-ended questions. The tool has functionalities that make the teacher's work more efficient and better. Several features have been added to reduce bias in grading. The teacher has the ability to collapse and expand questions, which allows the teacher to hide the answers to other questions. The teacher can see the question text and sample answer at any time, showing how many points each element is worth. This allows colleagues to assess in the same way. In addition, the grading tool does not display the name of the student by default, but an anonymous number.

To easily discuss the grading work with a colleague, several options have been added. The teacher can mark a student answer with a color, which can then be reviewed later. In the overview the teacher has the option to filter by points, so the teacher can, for example, review the student who just falls between a 5 and a 6 with colleagues.

To work more efficiently, snippets have been added. Snippets are a piece of text that the instructor can save and reuse as feedback for a student’s answer. This makes the teacher faster and still allows them to give targeted feedback to a student. Previously the exam had to be reviewed on paper and shared from teacher to teacher, with the UG Grader all teachers can review at the same time.

Finally, the exam review: the teacher can choose to have the review take place on location (room at the faculty) or online. With online exam review, there is less of a barrier for students to log in and review the feedback. This is beneficial for the student's study process.

We will continue to improve the UG grader based on student and faculty feedback. Do you have any tips or feedback of your own? If so, please contact .

Last modified:25 April 2024 11.45 a.m.
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