“It is my passion that drives me”. Learn more about Linda de Bont, Project Manager of ErasmusU_Online

In this interview, EUR alumna Linda de Bont, once having gone through the education system at Erasmus, is now all hands on deck with the ErasmusU_Online project. Born and raised in Rotterdam, 27 year-old Linda studied a Bachelor in Public Administration and a Master in International Public Management and  Policy (IMP), both at EUR. Hoping to develop the very educational system she went through, Linda explains what motivates her in her work and tells about the challenges she manages to face and overcome.

After traveling around Asia once I graduated, I reached out to Marieke Veenstra, currently CLI’s Programme Manager, to see if she had a temporary job available for me, as I got to know her when I was a student assistant in 2018. I got offered a Project Manager role to help with innovating education. Since then I have worked for CLI- not where I expected to be working, but it has been a great adventure so far.

Because of what I studied, I like to reach out to students and lecturers and use their opinions and feedback in my work.  An ideal society for me includes active citizens who are able to express their opinions and participate in the decision making process. These citizens know their democratic rights, but also their democratic duties.  At a small scale I want to incorporate this philosophy in my projects. As a Project Manager at CLI, I want to work bottom-up and involve all the people that will be impacted by the projects I work on.   

In the beginning I worked on the tenders for the digital exam software, the online proctoring software and the online practicing software for statistics-, mathematics- and accounting education. I learnt a lot during these projects, however tenders are very bureaucratic and don’t spark my passion. After the completion of these three tenders, I asked for projects that involved more creativity, and that became ErasmusU_Online. Since it is a pioneer project, there is a lot of room for creativity.

Having said that, this project has made me use my inner creativity a lot more. For example, the online social community platform we are developing within ErasmusU_Online. From the pandemic we know that social interaction between students is a crucial part of their online educational experience. But how do we design a platform that stimulates this social connection and makes it sincere? This is something that the university never had to think about before, and is completely new.  

With a project like this, there are many challenges to tackle, especially in the beginning phases. I learnt during my studies that with large societal problems, even if no one can come up with an answer to the whole problem, even a solution to a small part of it is worthwhile coming up with. For Erasmus_U projects, I pick a small part of the project that I know I have an answer for, and then go from there.

It is my passion that drives me. I wouldn’t be happy with something I am not passionate about. Working on ErasmusU_Online makes me happy and gives me a sense of fulfillment. The educational system hasn’t changed a lot in the past five, ten or even twenty years- but society has, for example with regard to digitalisation, inclusivity and flexibility. And that is strange. So I see ErasmusU_Online as an opportunity to change that. It will include more students in our educational system at EUR, both Dutch and students abroad. Next to the fact that it is more inclusive, it will be more flexible. I believe in being able to follow various pursuits, and a more flexible education system can allow for more multidisciplinary education.

If I had been given the choice of online education when I was nineteen, honestly I would not have chosen it. I needed the social interaction both inside and outside of my studies. However, now that I am working, I still love to educate myself and do courses and trainings. Next to everything I do, I wouldn’t have time to do it if it was not online, so I see the value of a project such as this. The quality of online courses really affects your experience, so that is something we focus on a lot with Erasmus_U online. On-campus and virtual education have differences, but they can still be equally good in their quality, as long as you take their differences into account with the educational design. 


To find out more about Erasmus_U Online, visit https://www.eur.nl/en/about-eur/vision/community-learning-and-innovation/erasmusuonline

 

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