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Kids, Coding en Verkiezingen

De debatten voor de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen gaan over allerlei belangrijke onderwerpen en ook onderwijs en wetenschap komen aan bod. Maar het is minder gebruikelijk om expliciet aan te geven wat er inhoudelijk moet veranderen in het onderwijs. Code Pact deed dat wel en publiceerde een open brief aan de lijsttrekkers in de Telegraaf en het Financieel Dagblad over digitale vaardigheden.

Alle kinderen digitaal vaardig,”schreef Code Pact: “Dit kabinet gaat ervoor zorgen dat kinderen en jongeren op structureel wijze digitale vaardigheden (waaronder programmeren) aanleren en biedt leraren de kans zich hierop versneld bij te scholen. Want de toekomst van onze kinderen begon gisteren!”

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De brief van Code Pact is gericht op de politiek en gaat over beleid. Wat het inhoudelijk betekent om goed onderwijs in digitale vaardigheden te geven, is precies een van de onderzoeksterreinen van de TU Delft. Met behulp van data uit een gratis open, online cursus (MOOC) deed Felienne Hermans onderzoek naar de wijze waarop kinderen digitale vaardigheden leren. Twee punten zijn hiervan interessant.

Allereerst de onderzoeksresultaten zelf. Zo blijkt uit het onderzoek dat kinderen van 12 jaar en ouder digitale skills sneller on de knie hebben dan jongere kinderen. Voor 12 jaar waren er weinig verschillen. Daarnaast dat het beter gaat als kinderen zelfstandig werken, dat wil zeggen als hun ouders meedoen, haken ze sneller af. Verder dat het een valkuil is om teveel op het leren van bepaalde programmeertalen te focussen, in plaats van op algemene digitale vaardigheden.

Ook de onderzoeksmethode was interessant. Waar veel onderwijskundig onderzoek noodgedwongen maar een kleine steekproef neemt van bijvoorbeeld 30 kinderen, was het onderzoek van Felienne Hermans gebaseerd op data van duizenden kinderen van 8 jaar en ouder die deelnamen aan een MOOC over programmeren. En dat leidde tot verrassende resultaten. Op Felienne’s blog kun je meer lezen over het onderzoek.

In de wereld van morgen zijn allerlei kennis en vaardigheden nodig: sociale, vakkennis, talen, omgaan met veranderingen, enzovoort. En vrijwel alle banen vragen om digitale vaardigheden. Een goede reden om ze in het onderwijs op te nemen en het liefst ook in het basis- en voortgezet onderwijs. Jong geleerd, oud gedaan lijsttrekkers.

Solar Energy Through Online Education – the New MicroMasters Programme of TU Delft

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Today TU Delft released a new online programme on solar energy engineering.

The renewable energy market develops rapidly. It is our university’s mission to contribute to solving tomorrow’s problems and that includes supporting the transition to renewable energy through research and education. Providing education to professionals in the solar energy sector is one way of doing that. In line with our approach to lifelong learning that I shared in my previous blog post, we hope to close the knowledge gap for engineers and other professionals who desire to develop their expertise with this MicroMaster Programme on solar energy.

“MicroMasters” are a new format, already used by some other leading universities worldwide. It is a series of MOOCs, which allow learners to specialise in a certain topic and advance their careers or studies. It can be finished with a certificate and may be counted towards a regular master programme after admission.

Our online solar energy MicroMaster programme includes four rigorous courses and a practical project derived from TU Delft’s Master of Science programmes. The workload is around 18 EC (European Credits). It will provide learners with most of the technical knowledge they need – from the physics of photovoltaic solar cells to the design of microgrids. But the MicroMasters programme offers more  than that – it will lead to a valuable MicroMasters credential when finishing all courses and the project successfully. For prospective students who apply and get admitted to specific TU Delft Master of Science programmes, it will allow them to use the MicroMasters credential to request an exemption for the equivalent solar courses (depending on their Individual Exam Programme).

Visit our new programme page on edX: https://www.edx.org/micromasters/delftx-solar-energy-engineering

Welcome Alumni TU Delft – never stop learning

Professional Online LearningIn a previous blog ‘making life long learning a success with MOOCs’ I wrote about bridging the gap between what professionals need and what universities offer. Technology, the economy and jobs are subject to constant change. That is one reason why our campus education is adapting. For example, topics such as Cybersecurity, Big Data or the Circular Economy were not part of our programmes some years ago; now they are. And people already in jobs need to update their knowledge to stay relevant and employable. Continuous development is important for everybody and certainly for engineers. This is why some years ago TU Delft included professional education and life long learning in its mission.

A university’s job does not finish when a student graduates at age 23 or 24, we believe at TU Delft. We also want to contribute to the careers of our alumni and other working professionals in science, design and engineering. To provide training and education for professionals we have set up the TU Delft Extension School, which offers a wide variety of online courses in the fields of aerospace engineering, leadership, sustainable energy, water management, responsible innovation, design and architecture and much more. Some of our courses are about new developments in a specific domain to keep you up to date in your field. And if you want to broaden your knowledge and expertise: we also offer interdisciplinary courses. In our online courses you can participate in discussions with our professors, watch short and relevant course videos, do assignments, and discuss course content with other professionals.


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Almost 1,5 million learners in MOOCs have found us in the last two and a half years and over one thousand in professional education courses have already taken up the opportunity of learning online with us. We feel that we have a special relation with and obligation to our alumni.

Therefore I dedicate this blog to you. Are you one of our alumni? We want to better connect with you. Tell us what your or your company’s education and training needs are. And we would like to learn from you too.

We are all learners for life. I hope that the word ‘alumnus’ will not exist any longer five years from now. Wouldn’t it be great to have you all as active members of the TU Delft learning community forever? Find out more about our online professional education: https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/ or send us a message.

Never stop learning.

Kids and coding

I attended an event on coding skills in primary and secondary education, organised by FutureNL. About 100 dedicated people from business and education, most of them passsionate volunteers, got together to discuss how we can make sure that programming skills will become part of education in the Netherlands. Prince Constantijn and former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes were present as ambassadors of FutureNL.

At TU Delft, many bachelor and master programmes already include programming,  but not all our students learn how to code. That is why we decided that from 2018 on coding and compuational thinking will become a compulsory part of all our students’ education.

But coding is not something only for engineers. A few years from now almost everybody will need digital skills in his or her work. For some a basic understanding and being able to work with standard sotfware will be sufficient. Many people, however, will need much more in their jobs. They will be the ones who will work in the rapidly growing IT sector, the ones who create the new digital world.

Understanding that digital world will be increasingly important in our daily life as well. During the FutureNL event Neelie Kroes said that if we don’t act a divison in society will evolve between the digital haves and have-nots, those who understand the digital world and those who do not and feel left out. So digital skills and understanding are important for all children.

Many parents, employers, schools and teachers agree. Organisations such as CodeUur have developed free materials for primary schools and many volunteers have offered their services to schools. What is lacking is a clear national policy. Unlike many countries (see the map below), programming and ompuational thinking are no compulsary part of primary or secondary education in the Netherlands.  The Netherlands should follow the example of countries such as Portugal, the UK and Poland and prepare our children better for their future.

Coding in Europe

2017: the Year of Open

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Our university embraced “open” many years ago, making scientific knowledge accessible online to all levels of society free of charge. To name a few, in 2007 we started sharing educational resources as OpenCourseWare. In 2014 we started an innovation programme around Open & Online Education and we have created many MOOCs since, with over 1,3 million learners participating. And in 2016 we initiated our OpenScience programme overarching open education and research, leading to the formulation of the open access policy and the creation of a data framework policy (in other words, policy for research data management). Now, in 2017, the year that the Open Education Consortium has declared ‘The Year of Open’, we are taking another step forward. In the TU Delft Year of Open we will organise activities to raise awareness among scientists, lecturers, administrators, and students about the importance of open science.

This year, there will be another full open science programme that you too can take part in. Examples include the Open Education Week in March, the launch of the open science course in June, the ten-year anniversary of OpenCourseWare, and the Open Access Week in October.

So keep your eyes and ears open and regularly check the website for all the interesting activities that will happen as part of The Year of Open.

A global perspective

The Year of Open is a global focus on open processes, systems, and tools, created through collaborative approaches, that enhance our education, businesses, governments, and organisations, organised by the Open Education Consortium. Open as a mindset about the way we should meet collective needs and address challenges.

Communities around the world are bringing open practices to many different fields, such as open source software, open government, open data, and of course open education. Open represents freedom, transparency, equity and participation. When something is openly created and released, the intent is for others to use it, contribute to its development and make it better for everyone, whether that’s adding more features or information, or finding errors and fixing them (source). Learn more about the global Year of Open.

MOOCs for Credit .. goes live

Student Credits for MOOCs

Exactly one year ago I wrote about our Credits for MOOCs idea. What would it take to open up MOOCs to our campus students? The answer is credits of course. (See my blog of November 2015). I am happy to announce the start of our pilot. From this week on our students can join a number of MOOCs and get credits for them.

The first MOOCs for credits will be provided by TU Delft, University of Queensland, Australia National University, and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and they will start in February 2017. During the summer a broader variety of courses will be made available by universities such as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Rice University. Other top 100 universities have said they are keen to join.

Why is this such an important step?
First of all because it will give students a much wider choice in their education. Because they will not only be able to take part in the MOOCs from their home university but also those of partner universities, students will be able to follow courses on topics their own university has no expertise in or courses on. The joint MOOC portfolio includes courses such as AstrophysicsEvidence-based Practice in Managementthe Psychology of Criminal JusticeEnglish Grammar and StyleTying Quantum Knots, and Engineering: Building with Nature. For a complete list see: www.tudelft.nl/creditsformoocs
Secondly, it will make learning more flexible for students and provide them with a digital way to learn across borders, a virtual Erasmus Programme, if you will.
And this is the third reason why this project is so important. Exchange programmes so far have been live. A very interesting learning experience for students, but for many not possible due to time or financial constraints.

The reasons to do this were clear upfront, but there were several challenges to overcome before we could start, ranging from organising exams, dealing with different time zones and embedding each other’s MOOCs in our regular credit recognition. With the support and contributions from our online teachers, faculties, boards of examiners, administrators and partner universities we have created a route for virtual exchange. A route where not the student travels, but the course content and exam.

It is our ambition is to let this portfolio grow. We will keep you posted. In the meantime: students – join!

Education Award for Arno Smets

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Arno Smets, one of TU Delft’s first MOOC makers, received a prestigious international award today at the edX Global Forum 2016 in Paris as best MOOC teacher: the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions to Online Teaching and Learning. It was the first time this prize was awarded. From 850 MOOC teachers and 11 nominees Arno was chosen as number one.

EdX CEO and MIT professor Anant Argawal: “Arno’s MOOC on Solar Energy is extensive and challenging, while at the same time developed for students of all levels. The course provides an important contribution to a more sustainable world and has already reached 150.000 learners. This shows his dedication, and also Edx’s, to make education accessible to all”.

TU Delft is very proud of Arno’s accomplishment and those of his colleagues. Their research and education in Photovoltaics (PV) had already given TU Delft an excellent reputation in this field, and through this MOOC this knowledge is now accessible to a worldwide audience. And most of all, Arno is a super enthusiastic and fantastic teacher. Want to see for yourself why Arno won? Check this: MOOC Solar Energy.

Dutch Universities Go Open

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This week a majority of universities in the Netherlands agreed on a statement that they will promote open education.  The Open Coalition consists of: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Universiteit Twente, Universiteit Utrecht, Wageningen Universiteit, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Open Universiteit, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Universiteit Maastricht, and of course my own institution, Technische Universiteit Delft. There is a good chance that a number of universities of applied sciences will join soon. As far as I know, we are the first country where universities take such a step.

Of course this is only a start. They key factor to success is that we facilitate our lecturers, provide them with technical assistance and advice on, for example, copy rights. And we need good examples. A group of lecturers have decided to do just that: mathematics teachers from the four technical universities (Delft, Eindhoven, Twente and Wageningen) have joined forces. They will develop open mathematics materials that can be used by our own teachers and students and those at other universities worldwide.

Here is a translation of the statement:

Open Education We believe that open education will contribute to improving the quality of our education. Open education encourages peer learning among our teaching staff and gives students access to a richer learning environment.

As public universities we see open education as part of the wider open science movement (i.e. open access publishing, open data and open source software), which our institutions support.

What will we do? By taking part in this Open Coalition we declare that we will cooperate in a joint programme of universities, universities of applied sciences, SURF and the Ministry of Education to increase the sharing and reuse of higher education digital learning materials of our teaching staff. We will develop a shared policy and strengthen a culture among our institutions and staff to publish learning materials under an open license and reuse those materials.

Het zwemdiploma voor de ingenieur

Als je leraar gymnastiek wilt worden, heb je een HAVO-diploma, sportmedisch onderzoek en zwemdiploma’s nodig. Dat zijn voorwaarden voor inschrijving voor de opleiding. Ook opleidingen in de kunst en de PABO hebben extra toegangseisen. Voor een technische studie is een VWO-diploma met N&T-profiel voldoende. Zou het niet logisch zijn om ook voor techniek aanvullende eisen te stellen? Eén aanvullende eis om precies te zijn: een 7 voor wiskunde. De komende maanden zal ik deze vraag bespreken met onze Studentenraad, collega’s, de minister en beleidsmakers.

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De TU Delft kent een hoge uitval in het eerste jaar. Dat is al jaren zo, ondanks vernieuwde en verbeterde curricula, studiebegeleiding, aandacht van docenten, bindend studieadvies en hard werken door studenten. Circa 30% van de eerstejaars studenten krijgt een negatief BSA. Daarnaast schrijven behoorlijk wat studenten zich uit voor 1 februari. In totaal haalt zo’n 40-45% het eerste jaar niet. Misschien is dat het gevolg van het Nederlandse systeem: VWO-diploma en profielkeuze geven toegang en het eerste jaar is het selectiejaar. Er is veel te zeggen voor het systeem waarin het diploma het paspoort is voor het vervolgonderwijs. Het geeft helderheid aan scholieren. Het leidt echter ook tot broken dreams voor zo’n 1.000 studenten per jaar aan de TU Delft alleen al en ik vrees dat het niet veel beter is aan de andere technische universiteiten. De vraag is of dat acceptabel is.

Als we elke student zouden kunnen selecteren, zou de uitval vermoedelijk lager zijn, maar is dat het wenselijk? Selectie is de laatste jaren overigens wel meer gangbaar geworden in het hoger onderwijs in Nederland, voor de master-, maar ook voor de bacheloropleiding, waar deze blog over gaat. Het aantal selectie-instrumenten is daarmee ook gegroeid. Er lijkt zelfs een hele kerstboom aan selectiemechanismes te zijn onstaan. Dat is misschien ook niet vreemd, want de wet stelt als voorwaarde dat een universiteit of HBO-instelling die selecteert (bijv. voor een numerus fixus), verplicht is om verschillende criteria te hanteren.

Ooit sprak ik professor Marijk van de Wende over selectie. Marijk is een expert op het gebied van selectie. Vage en onduidelijke criteria leiden ertoe dat je meer van hetzelfde selecteert, zei ze. Het lijkt mij daarmee niet bevorderlijk voor diversiteit. Communicatievaardigheden, assertiviteit, motivatie: allemaal belangrijk, maar hoe test je het? Je kunt je voorstellen dat een eerste generatiestudent een achterstand heeft op de zoon of dochter van hoogopgeleide ouders bij het schrijven van een motivatiebrief: geen vader of moeder die het systeem al kent en die de brief met (of voor) hem of haar schrijft.

Onderzoek aan de TU Delft geeft aan dat het op het VWO behaalde cijfer voor wiskunde een goede voorspeller is van het studiesucces voor vrijwel al onze opleidingen, met uitzondering van Bouwkunde en Industrieel Ontwerpen. Dat is nauwelijks verrassend: wiskunde is een belangrijk vak voor techniekstudenten en een basisvaardigheid voor ingenieurs. Met minimaal een 7 voor wiskunde halen meer studenten hun BSA, vallen er minder uit en haalt een hoog percentage zijn of haar bachelordiploma in vier jaar. Het leidt kortom tot een forse beperking van het aantal broken dreams.

Mijn wens zou zijn om per 2018 die 7 als toegangseis te hanteren voor onze opleidingen, Industrieel Ontwerpen en Bouwkunde uitgezonderd. Leerlingen met een wiskundeknobbel halen die sowieso, de andere hebben de tijd om hard te werken aan die 7 en komen met een hoger wiskundeniveau binnen dan de zessen van vroeger. Een helder en objectief criterium, het zwemdiploma voor de ingenieur in spe.

Celebrating one million MOOC enrolments

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This summer we reached a big milestone: one million enrolments for our MOOCs on the edX platform. Last Thursday we celebrated this with the TU Delft community. The focus of the event was to show the impact of the 1M.

We joined the edX consortium in the beginning of 2013 and the first two MOOCs started in September 2013. After three years we have 36 MOOCs with 1 million enrolments. This has exceeded all our expectations.

We have reached this milestone thanks to our fantastic team. Rob Fastenau, eDean of the Extension School, said “Behind every course there are teachers who go the extra mile“. Faculty and support team, they all did a great job.

Impact of our MOOCs

Big numbers are good, but what do they mean? During the event we discussed the goals we originally had. We also looked at the impact of our MOOCs:

  • Educate the World: increase access to education
  • Enhance TU Delft’s reputation
  • Improve campus education
  • Facilitate a stronger relation between education and research
  • Provide better collaboration with industry
  • See how MOOCs and the Extension School can be a catalyst for organisational change

We received a very warm congratulation message of Anant Agarwal, President of edX:

The Next Step

I think we all agree that the MOOC programme has had a very positive impact. We are currently working on the next steps, such as proving credits for MOOCs for our campus students and those of partner universities, more collaboration with industry to offer professional education and apply what we learned in our MOOCs to our campus education.

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Panel discussion on Education & Research

 

© 2011 TU Delft