Imagine this. After lunch, you check your news feed on your mobile. There’s a timetable change: your lecture has been moved to a larger room. According to statistics, this week is busier than last week. Your lecturer has added a recent research paper to your literature list, so you add it to the ‘to do’ list on your dashboard.
It’s not too busy at the University Library today; the real-time occupancy is now at 60 percent. You book your favourite study spot and once seated, you read the article and watch an extra knowledge clip by your lecturer. The clip was clear and useful, so you give it a rating of 9. You then complete the corresponding assignments online and receive instant feedback on your speed and mistakes. Based on your score, new assignments with a higher difficulty level are automatically generated. Meanwhile, your lecturer receives a real-time update with the results and progress of all students.
In the virtual reality classroom, you put on your glasses and choose the option ‘simulation: business negotiations’. You score an 8 today. You only have two simulations left to obtain your certificate for this subject.
Tomorrow, you have an exam on a subject at Oxford University. You book a secured computer so you can complete it at EUR tomorrow. Since you’ve already received thirty credits in Finance, you decide to follow two courses in Data Analytics, at TU Delft and MIT, following the advice of the digital coach on your dashboard.
This is what education could be like in five or ten years’ time. Everything I’ve described above is already possible but not yet applied. I think that this is a terrible shame, because educational innovation has many benefits for students and teaching staff.
For one thing, it offers personal, flexible education and real-time feedback. EUR has already taken some good steps forward, such as the virtual reality courtroom at Erasmus School of Law.
Unfortunately, there are also some persistent obstacles. Some lecturers have been teaching in the same way for twenty years, while others don’t have the means to try something new due to lack of time or support. Sometimes, there are also big differences of opinion, for example tutors who are fiercely opposed to audio-visual recordings of lectures.
Community for Learning and Innovation
Students and staff must therefore work together on solutions. This is something that I am trying to achieve within the Community for Learning and Innovation, in which we can use expertise and experience available throughout the university to promote educational improvement and innovation.
We don’t know what education will look like in ten or fifty years’ time. However, lectures without interaction, dull material gleaned from heavy books and the reproduction of old exam questions must be relegated to the past. It’s time for innovation of education!