Island-hopping, the dilemmas game, visual space – these are just a few examples of the formats that can be found on teachEUR. “In July, we launched the site with 21 instructional formats,” says CLI project manager Fem Windhorst. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the CLI was working on an online platform where lecturers could find inspiration for instructional formats, regardless of whether they were teaching in-person, online or hybrid classes. However, due to the pandemic, the emphasis is currently on online formats. The CLI’s project managers believe that lectures can be more than just streamed videos. “Our site currently features 27 instructional formats. We hope to expand the number to forty or fifty this year.”

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The formats presented on teachEUR are meant to help lecturers design their classes. Several filters can be used, such as class duration, number of students and objective. “We hope that each format will inspire lecturers,” says Windhorst. “Trying something new doesn’t have to be complicated. The novelty could just be one single component of one single lecture. I hope that lecturers will give it a shot, to change things up a bit for their students, as well.”

Many opportunities

Franke Schuurmans, a Master’s student in public administration, devised a format that will be posted on teachEUR soon. She hopes that lecturers will be willing to take on the challenge. She herself has found that her current classes mostly involve leaning back and listening. The same is true for discussions in breakout rooms. Schuurmans believes that more active and interactive methods can be used to teach these classes. “These times also present us with many opportunities. No one need reinvent the wheel. TeachEUR and other online sources provide tips and have done all the thinking for you.”

As part of an assignment for her degree programme, Schuurmans and a few fellow students created a Twee voor twaalf-like general knowledge quiz. In the well-known Dutch TV quiz, in which candidates are allowed to look up answers, they are awarded more points for correct answers they know off the top of their heads. The same is true for the instructional format Schuurmans and her fellow students drew up. “Before this degree programme, I worked as a secondary school teacher for several years. I came up with this format there. Competitive elements work well for people of all ages. And people genuinely learn things, because you can’t play the game unless you have some knowledge. So you can’t take part unless you prepare.” This quiz-based format is now online on teachEUR.

Schuurmans and Windhorst both made a point of mentioning several times that these times are also very hard on lecturers, particularly since lecturers were already suffering very heavy workloads even before the pandemic. Schuurmans has a tip for exhausted lecturers: tell your students to take up one of these instructional formats. It will make a nice change from yet another PowerPoint slide.

Sharing ideas

Windhorst would like to turn the website into a platform. “That’s what I’d like most – to make it a platform where students and lecturers wish to share their ideas.” Most of the instructional formats currently on offer on the website were collected from books or other websites by CLI’s educational consultants. “Now I hope lecturers who have been experimenting will share their findings with the community.”

Next week, the first instructional format submitted by a lecturer will be posted on the site. “We spent an hour together and asked a lot of questions about the instructional format. The CLI then worked out the idea and consulted the lecturer on that.”

Windhorst would like to call on lecturers and students alike to submit ideas: “If you have a format, we’ll do the rest of the work. And if you have an in-person instructional format that you’d like to translate into an online or hybrid format, we’ll be happy to do that for you, as well!”