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Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020

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“I believe in it that much that I turned it into my job.”

Diversity, preparing students for the job market, internal mobility; on intranet employees share which ‘SP-themes’ are important to them and why. Today: Jasper van Winden, Coordinator Science Educate-it and Policy Advisor Teaching Programmes & ICT for the Faculty of Science. 

Most important theme: The optimal utilization of technical, innovative possibilities in teaching programmes.

Why this theme?
“Because I think digital resources can improve teaching programmes in all kinds of ways. They can make it more activating, or ensure students receive more and better feedback. They can also streamline teaching processes (such as digital testing) or give lecturers good insights into students’ progress and problems. I believe in it that much that I turned it into my job.”

Does it get enough attention in the Strategic Plan?
“Yes. I’m happy with the prominent part this theme plays in the plan, but I have some comments as well. Blended learning can surely improve Utrecht University’s education model of small-scale and activating programmes, but we should be careful that deploying digital educational resources does not become a goal in itself. Good programmes; that is the goal. Unfortunately, this is not stated in so many words.

I would love to see structural space for lecturers to periodically renew and improve their programmes. Culture of improvement is prominent in the plan; for education this mostly results in a Centre for Academic Teaching. That’s important too, of course, but we won’t have much use for it if well-educated lecturers don’t have the time to adapt their programmes.

“To me, face-to-face teaching remains an indispensable element of excellent education.”

In the SP, the terms ‘blended learning’ and ‘digitisation’ seem to be used interchangeably. The latter term refers to full-online courses. It is logical to offer teaching programmes for alumni primarily online (‘Life Long Learning’), but I would be careful not to let that seep through to our full-time students. To me, face-to-face teaching remain an indispensable element of the excellent education we strive for. Until 2020, at least. And after that? Who knows what else will be possible then.”

Any other themes of great importance to you? 
“Second place is for community forming. It’s great that the university dedicates itself to informal networks. Experience has taught us that having communities in our faculties can have a very stimulating effect. For instance, we have a lecturers community for blended learning that sticks together when implementing teaching innovations.

I don’t believe that much in the university being able to function as one big community. A network of smaller communities involving shared ambitions, interests and experiences seems more realistic and productive to me. In the end, that is the social foundation our research and education are built on.”

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