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TU/e to carry out trail runs with digital education projects

There is no shortage of plans at TU/e when it comes to innovative digital education projects. And now, the funding needed for the implementation of these plans has become available. The money comes from the student loan resources budget. Program plan BOOST lists potential projects and a selection will be made shortly. The University Council has accepted the plan but demands the inclusion of a Code of Conduct which stipulates that collected data on individual students will not be used for personal evaluations.

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In his capacity as program manager, co-author of BOOST Fred Gaasendam will be responsible for the quality and implementation of all projects during the next five years. A Steering Group, made up of the deans of the Bachelor College and the Graduate School as well as one student, will decide how the money is spent. Gaasendam explains that this money – one million euros this year, growing to two million during the coming years – comes from the Ministry of Education (OCW) and became available after the ministry introduced the student loan system. These so-called student loan resources are meant to increase the quality of education.

The program plan BOOST, which stands for Be the Owner of your Own STudy, gives an overview of TU/e’s efforts on digitalization of education up to this point, such as the implementation of Canvas and Osiris, and looks ahead to future projects. Gaasendam immediately adds that these projects should be seen as experiments and that they will not be part of the regular education program any time soon.

“The general idea is that when someone comes up with a plausible experiment, we will start working on it. Depending on the results, a number of these experiments will be further developed generically. The basic principle is that the project must match the university’s vision on education and that we first figure out whether a project hasn’t been implemented at another institution already.”

Code of Conduct

The University Council demands that data on individual students collected during the implementation of projects, so-called learning analytics, may never be used for personal evaluations of students. This needs to be stipulated in a Code of Conduct that must be submitted to the Council for advice. Gaasendam mentions data on how long or how frequently a student has watched an instruction video as an example. “We need to see how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limits the use of this data. A Code of Conduct will present clear agreements on this that will first be coordinated with the Executive Board and the University Council.”

The program plan already describes possible projects. They vary from the development of mini-bachelors and mini-masters (small education packages of fifteen ECTS-points for which a separate certificate is issued) to offering education programs online, making it easier for students of institutes of higher education to gain access to a Master’s program. A digital platform that supports teachers and allows them to share experiences and advice is another project listed in the program plan.

Gaasendam expects that the first choices will be made in a few weeks’ time, allowing the first pilot to commence before summer holidays. Next to Gaasendam, Full Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Hans Cuypers has been named ambassador of BOOST. His job is to maintain a network and to publicize the program’s results, both within and outside of the university.

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