Pre-U, the University of Twente’s pre-university programme, went live last Monday with a new online platform: the Skills Lab. Skills Lab enables pupils in their final years of secondary school to take part in courses focusing on skills that are relevant to university education.
‘Students can discover their talents in a fun way and develop their interests,’ says Pieter Boerman, director of Pre-U. The Skills Lab is aimed at pupils who are deciding what they may want to study in the future. Pre-U focuses mainly on pupils in years 5 and 6 pre-university education (VWO), but of course the platform is also helpful for pupils in other years.
In Skills Lab, Pre-U offers two different types of courses: modules and crash courses. Both types involve a good balance between theory, videos, photos, assignments and feedback. ‘A lot of work has gone into designing these courses and they are perfect for pupils to do at home during the coronavirus pandemic,’ said one of the partner schools in the Pre-U network. In the modules, pupils spend a few hours immersing themselves in a useful skill that often proves difficult for university students. Currently, the Skills Lab offers modules in Excel, LaTeX (a software system for academic documents) and R (a statistics program). ‘This software is used by many students at university, so the modules provide excellent preparation for starting a university programme,’ says Sander Wenderich, a project leader at Pre-U.
The crash courses focus on developing soft skills that secondary school pupils can put into practice straight away. These skills include pitching an idea, giving feedback and doing presentations, but also how to carry out research based on the research cycle. At the moment, Pre-U offers seven crash courses, but they are continuing to expand their range of both types of courses. Wherever possible, they are working with University of Twente study programmes to do this and they are also incorporating feedback from the participants and teachers about what they enjoy most.
Pupils can register for Skills Lab free of charge on the website, after which they will be able to access the online learning environment within a few days. The participants can then work through the various courses at their own pace and in their own time. In addition, they will receive handy suggestions on checking their own work and monitoring their own progress. Pre-U also has university students on hand who know about the subject material and can answer any questions the participants may have. And of course, the participants can also use the courses in the Skills Lab to help them with their school work. We hope that teachers will encourage them to do this.
Pre-U is the Pre-University College of the University of Twente. It is a way for the university to support, challenge and inspire secondary school pupils through a diverse range of activities.
For more information, please visit the Skills Lab website.