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#040 Eduardo's view on hybrid education

The story of Rainer's attracting opposites is a story of Eduardo's view on hybrid education

In higher education, it is assumed that you are independent, sociable and take initiative. But what if that isn’t the way you were raised? Eduardo Hermsen made it his mission to make the education system more accessible for this group of people. First as a teacher, and currently as a teacher trainer and educational designer. Together with associate professor Rainer Harms, he developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). With the rapid digitalization of education, Rainer wonders: will technology replace teachers?

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Monday 19 July 2021

Big at being small

Rainer: ‘Hey Eduardo! Nice to see you again. We already know each other professionally. You were my Senior University Teaching Qualification (SUTQ) coach and we developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) together. Now I'm interested in hearing your personal story. How does a mechanical engineer end up in the Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (TELT) team?’

Eduardo: ‘My interest in education started during my days as a student. I was the first university graduate in my family. I noticed that higher education is geared towards people with a higher socio-economic status. It is assumed that you are independent, social and a go-getter. That's difficult, if that isn’t the way you were raised. Since I wanted to make the education system more inclusive, after my bachelor's degree, I obtained a teaching certificate for teaching. I taught for the first time during my internship in 1996 and thought, 'Why don't we just use computers to teach?' Then I added a bachelor's degree in applied education. That programme revolved around implementing technology in education.'

‘After graduating, I continued in that field. First as a consultant at an internet company, later at the Dutch Police Academy. Then, I was ready for a new challenge. I found it at UT; here I was able to develop as a trainer for university lecturers. And I still do that, including as an SUTQ coach. The nice thing is that my interests are continuously stimulated, because I speak to teachers from different fields.’

“I’m not worried about the final product; I trust that it will be delivered. Instead, I prefer to focus on how participants develop as people and as a team”
Eduardo Hermsen

Rainer: 'Isn't the role of a consultant very similar to that of a trainer?'

Eduardo: ‘I am still developing technological solutions for education, but other than that they have little in common. As a consultant I was focused on creating a good final product. As a trainer, I’m not worried about that; I trust that it will be delivered. I prefer to see how participants develop during the process - as people and as a team.'

‘That's why I like SUTQ coaching so much. I work with experienced teachers, all of whom have already developed in a particular way. And yet they sometimes get stuck. For example, I often see that educators want to change too quickly, and too much. My challenge is to convert those grand plans into concrete, manageable goals. I think it's wonderful to see teachers achieve their ultimate goal thanks to that step-by-step plan.'

Rainer: ‘That makes sense. As a teacher, I really appreciate what you do. The coaching sessions are valuable and technology in education is - of course - more relevant than ever. Speaking of which: how do you see the future of education?'

Eduardo: 'There is a lot of enthusiasm for hybrid education: a combination of online and regular education. These concepts are so new that it will take some time before we fully master the possibilities. But we can already develop the resources. In the summer of 2019, for example, I created digital certificates for our courses. We didn’t necessarily need those at the time. Until the pandemic came and they suddenly turned out to come in very handy indeed.’

Rainer: ‘So I don't have to worry about computers taking over my work?’ 

Eduardo: ‘Haha, have you ever tried talking to your phone’s voice assistant? You can't have a decent conversation with those. No, the future is all about meaningful interactions and we need actual people for that.’

‘The role of teachers may well change, because a lot of knowledge is accessible through the internet. Previously revolving around transferring knowledge, that role will increasingly focus on facilitating learning going forward. This means: smaller groups of students and a lot of attention for discussion and interaction. That is easier said than done; it requires a certain mindset on the part of teachers and management. Quality over quantity. I also try to instill that in my coaching sessions.’

“Our strength lies in our small scale. As a result, we pay attention to the individual needs of our students. I hope it stays that way”
Eduardo Hermsen

Rainer: 'Now that we are dreaming about the future: what does your ideal campus look like?'

Eduardo: 'I feel that at UT, we tend to look up to larger technical universities. But our strength lies in our small scale. As a result, we pay attention to the individual needs of our students. I hope it stays that way.’

‘And I would like to make TELT stronger with my own DesignLab, on the second floor of the Citadel building. Anyone can walk in and out, but there are always a few specialists. For example, if you want to record a microlecture, you can go there for tips, advice and feedback. Then, you can record it directly in the adjacent studio. Oh, and while we're at it: a beautiful, inspiring space where you can brainstorm with your team.'

Rainer: ‘Don't forget the good coffee, I'll definitely visit you there when the time comes.’

Eduardo: ‘Nice! I am interested to see what else we will develop together.’

RAINER HARMS (1974)

studied economics in Münster, where he subsequently obtained his doctorate in business administration. He completed his postdoc in business administration at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria). As a visiting researcher he worked at the universities of Minnesota and Moscow and as a visiting professor he taught students in Vienna, Barcelona, Saint Petersburg and Melbourne. Enschede came into the picture in 2008. Harms is an associate professor of Entrepreneurship at the BMS Faculty.

Eduardo Hermsen (1971)

studied applied education and obtained a degree to teach mechanical engineering. Since 2015, he has been working at UT for the Center of Expertise in Learning and Teaching (CELT) department as an experienced teacher trainer and Senior University Teaching Qualification (SUTQ) coach. In addition, within the Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (TELT) team, he is involved in the design and development of online education and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).