The Ministry of Education is helping to fund two University of Twente projects in the field of open and online education. The grants are worth over €100,000. The first project involves the production of 60 short videos in English for the purposes of teaching in the field of social science research. The second project will lead to the creation of a digital platform that will allow engineers to practise and improve their drawing skills, which are particularly important to design students.
Under the government’s incentive scheme for open and online education, grants are awarded to projects that investigate how open and online education can contribute to more personalized education, improve the quality, accessibility and effectiveness of higher education, and increase academic success. One requirement is that the material and knowledge developed within these projects must be available online and free of charge. Recently, two project proposals submitted by the University of Twente have been accepted. The projects are entitled Flipping research methods education (led by Henk van der Kolk) and Sketchlab (led by Pepijn van Passel).
Flipping research methods education
The Flipping research methods education project has been awarded a grant of €60,000. This project involves producing a total of 60 short videos in English to teach research methods and techniques in the field of social science. The videos, which are accompanied by interactive tutorials and homework assignments, are designed to replace regular lectures. The main advantages are that teachers do not have to teach the same courses several times every year and students can repeat or revise the basic aspects of the subject. They can also start to study at any point during the academic year and study at their own pace. Project leader Henk van der Kolk has already experimented with this method of teaching on a smaller scale within the programmes in European Public Administration (EPA) and International Business Administration (IBA). He believes that for the current generation of students, this is a better way of acquiring important basic skills such as research methods and techniques. ‘It makes it much easier to get round to putting the theory into practice than it was previously. I’m convinced that practice exercises ensure that students learn better. I can also use the videos at different times and in a different order in my teaching. That has real benefits for me, because I don’t need to explain the same things twice, but it is also really good for the students, who can improve by repeating and revising whenever they want.’ The videos are primarily being used in the EPA and IBA degree programmes, but if the technique proves successful, they can also be used for other programmes at the university and beyond.
The Sketchlab research proposal has been awarded a grant of nearly €50,000. Project leader Pepijn van Passel is developing a digital platform that students of Industrial Design and Creative Technology (initially) can use to improve their drawing skills. Ultimately, the plan is that the platform can be used by everyone, including individuals, businesses, students from other programmes or disciplines and from other educational institutions.
Although drawing by hand is still a very important skill in the field of contemporary industrial design, design curricula are tending to focus less on it these days. Learning drawing techniques and the teaching that this requires is highly labour intensive. Sketchlab enables students to improve their drawing skills at home, whenever they choose, and they also receive feedback from fellow students, teachers and student assistants. The platform represents an important link between traditional forms of teaching and modern digital techniques. Van Passel believes that this form of teaching will be better able to accommodate the needs and preferences of students and provide more depth, allowing them to work at their own pace. ‘The platform is also an important tool for teachers, enabling them to teach in a more appealing and effective manner.’
Further information about the incentive scheme for open and online education and other projects that have been awarded grants is available on the SURF website.