‘We want an education that stimulates, an education that lives up to its students’ needs’

Marieke Veenstra

The contemporary student grew up on the internet. They grew up with social media and videos, and have come to expect a constant stream of feedback and interaction. Education, however, doesn’t yet live up to these expectations. The Community for Learning & Innovation is aiming to change this.

TEXT: Dennis Mijnheer
PHOTO: © Aurélie Geurts

 

‘The traditional way of lecturing, of offering books and syllabi, doesn’t seem to match the needs of a current generation of students. They think it’s all very boring,’ says Marieke Veenstra, programmer for the Community of Learning & Innovation (CLI). CLI, a knowledge and support platform, was set up a year ago, and since then has gotten the commitment of every single faculty at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Their goal? Making sure the EUR offers a new generation of students the education they need. ‘We try to encourage teachers to approach their own teaching in a different way, through a different design. We want an education that stimulates, an education that aligns with the students’ new forms of knowledge production.’ Veenstra illustrates her point by giving the example of the ‘knowledge clips’, short videos that summarise complex themes. ‘In preparing for exams the student can play these clips as often as they want, until they comprehend the issue. Or think for example of a game app where students can practice exam questions in a more playful way.’

Encouraging teachers

These kinds of educational reforms don’t come into fruition of their own accord – they require the necessary involvement of the teachers. That’s why the CLI supports teachers in this process. ‘We want to involve people within the faculties to join arms and work together in making these qualitative improvements and educational reforms work,’ says Veenstra. ‘A few years ago, if a teacher wanted to bring about some change they had to do it all by themselves. Now, the Community for Learning & Innovation can support them in that.’

The support options that the CLI offers are diverse. Teachers can follow a training course and a coaching trajectory, or they can get coaching on educational innovation. There’ll also be some financial opportunities made available for research into educational innovation. Students can also propose and carry out projects that relate to educational innovation.

Erasmus Education Lab

In November the CLI got an actual sign: ‘The Erasmus Education Lab’, hung out for all to see in the Polak building at Woudestein campus. ‘Teachers can easily walk in and out. We can give them advice on how to rethink their courses. The lab also has a hypermodern studio where teachers can record their classes,’ Veenstra explains enthusiastically. Part of the idea is that the lab can become a meeting spot where ‘inspirational sessions’ can take place, somewhere where teachers can talk about how they’ve renewed their courses.

The Erasmus Education Lab isn’t the only milestone. Last September, every teacher at the EUR joined the digital learning-platform, ‘Canvas’. Veenstra sees this as an important step in the right direction. ‘Canvas is very interactive and easy to use for both teachers as students. Veenstra considers it an important step in the right direction.

  • Who: Marieke Veenstra
    Study: Social History at Erasmus University Rotterdam
    Carreer: Community for Learning & Innovation programme manager

  • ‘We want to invite people to join forces.’