The Teaching Enhanced Learning (TEL) project supports course units in using technology-enhanced learning. The project also aims to draw up an overview of all the technology-enhanced learning activities taking place within the Faculty. Koos Winnips, e-learning coordinator of the Faculty, will answer a couple of questions about the progress of this SVM-project.
What do you hope to achieve with the project and what will the benefits be?
The Teaching Enhanced Learning (TEL) project supports course units in using technology-enhanced learning. We also aim to draw up an overview of all the technology-enhanced learning activities taking place within the Faculty. There are lots of good initiatives taking place within the various course units, but these often remain hidden. For example, we provide support for peer feedback, text annotation (Perusall) and the production of short video clips; in fact, all the possibilities available at the University. In the Faculty of Economic and Business, for example, researchers are also publishing articles about the effects of innovation in their own subject areas. However, this work is not always communicated with the rest of the Faculty. Such innovations mean that the researchers solve a problem in their particular subject area, but once they have found a solution, they have achieved their aim and are generally too busy (and too modest) to tell everyone else about it. This is where we come in, by informing others, for example through our FEBcon lecturers’ network. Although the benefits of this vary depending on the subject area, in general, we increase the quality of teaching through ‘active learning’. We also help reduce the workload of teaching staff, by recording teaching videos and peer feedback, and with the purchase of digital materials
How far are you with the project?
We’re almost done! We are currently organizing meetings with the programme directors to find out their requirements for the future. We will then write up our reports, wait for the responses and hope to be able to continue with a new project next year.
How did you organize the project?
We created three work packages: support at the course unit level, programme support, and an overview. Following meetings with the client Jan Riezebos, my colleague Martha van der Wal and I developed the teaching support programme. We were able to appoint two student assistants, who took a lot of work out of our hands. We already had plenty of contacts and we were tipped off about ‘interested’ lecturers through the FEBcon network. We also came into contact with people through the Warm Welcome programme that we set up in the Faculty as an introduction programme for new lecturers. Working with ongoing course units makes everything very concrete, as the deadlines for certain activities often coincide with the start of a new course unit. This can make for a lot of work at the start of each block, but lecturers are used to that too!
Given what you know now, what would you have done differently?
It would have been better to define the project a little more concretely at the start. Only later did we come up with the idea (through ESI) to make a ‘product vision board’ for the project (an idea from the SCRUM/Kanban method). This product vision board showed us that we were going into much too much detail and that the quality of the course units that we support was more important than having an overview. Because we were focused on that anyway, due to our day-to-day activities and our contact with the teaching staff, this gave a better picture of the end product and a less uneasy feeling (are we doing the right thing?).
What still needs to be done/what do you still want to do?
We still need to produce our final report, which will show that we need to improve the visibility of innovations in teaching. With 387 university teachers in the Faculty, we still have plenty to do. We also have to be careful not to overload people with information. One development here is to consider the model that we use for supporting teaching innovation. The dissemination model for communicating innovation is dated, and the idea that you throw a stone into a pond and the innovation spreads like ripples just doesn’t work. University teachers may give up or misinterpret information, and we underestimate the use of informal networks (chats around the coffee machine). I therefore believe it is better to use a propagation model: to work together with lecturers to develop a good example that you then embed within the organization. In teaching innovation, we often come up against new problems that require input from various people in the organization, and we need to keep going until an innovation is embedded in the organization. An example of this is the current development of ‘learning spaces’. The active learning policy means that new demands are being made of rooms used for teaching and learning. Students need to work on assignments as a group, and old-fashioned lecture theatres are not always the best place to do that. There are various people working on this at the University: architects, timetable developers, construction advisors, teaching experts, students and demand managers. These different groups need to come to some sort of agreement, which means making sure that they learn to work together. For example, we can help staff and students achieve active learning by providing them with spaces to work in that actually support such learning.
Where do you think you will be in one years’ time (regarding this project)?
I hope that we will be nearing completion of the follow-up project, that we will have achieved a greater awareness of teaching innovations in the Faculty and that students will have learned a lot in the course units in which the innovations have been implemented in a second phase.
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