Education Parade 2024; How do we take the next step?

    24 April 2024

    “Education is complex,” said Esther van der Stappen, professor at Avans and keynote speaker at the RUAS Education Parade. The 300 lecturers, researchers and guests in the auditorium at Kralingse Zoom nodded their heads in agreement.

    The RUAS staff recognise the picture painted by Van der Stappen. Much is expected of them to prepare teaching and research for the future. “Cause for doubt,” said Van der Stappen. With the added footnote that this doubt is just fine, as long as it leads to action.

    It is no coincidence that action is the focus of the Education Parade. From small initiatives to large-scale changes in assessment and curricula, much is happening in our education and research. Sarah Wilton-Wels, Chair of the Executive Board, underlined the importance of this in her opening speech with an anecdote about President Kennedy's visit to NASA. The philosophy there was that every employee, no matter what their role, contributed to the organisation's ambition.
    In NASA's case, that ambition was to put a man on the moon. To draw a parallel with the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, you will notice that everyone in the organisation works with the students in mind. "As a higher education institution, we want to develop into a knowledge institution, where education and research are better connected. And wherever you work in the organisation, we are all putting the proverbial man on the moon".

    With a packed programme, there was plenty of inspiration and new connections to be made at this tenth edition. Curious? Then watch the after film below.

    Ai in our education

    Interest in generative AI seems to be growing perhaps even faster than the possibilities available today. The Education Parade included several sessions that gave an insight into what is already being done with this new technology at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.
    Peter van Waart, theme coordinator Smart & Social City, is the initiator of a new project in which our colleagues are collaborating with other institutions, industry and students: "We are working on an AI solution to train students from the Schools of Healthcare Studies and Social Work to have effective dialogues with avatars representing people with mental disorders. The AI controls the behaviour of each avatar based on case information about a patient with a specific mental disorder, combined with course and assessment information from the study programme".
    Will you be using AI soon? Lecturer researcher Marije Brom and data protection officer Jan Landsaat introduced colleagues to the opportunities and risks of AI:

    The Strategic Agenda; what does it require from us?

    "It's great that the Strategic Agenda is focusing on our responsibility to contribute, through education and research, to finding answers to societal challenges such as climate change, social inequality and increasing digitalisation," says Marlies van der Wee, leading lecturer at the School of Built Environment. Van der Wee's session focused on what we need to do differently in education if we want our students to learn to contribute to the transition to a sustainable, just and future-proof society.
    Van der Wee: "Together with colleagues, I encourage students to discover their own motivations, what social issues they want to contribute to, and what this requires of their personal and professional development. These are challenging but valuable questions for which they are given time to discuss with their peers. Time can be spent on 'not knowing', reflection, emotion, experience and interaction.

    Want to know more about the Strategic Agenda's impact on education? Initial Leader Jeroen Chabot talked about it:

    More language in education 

    For language lovers, it was hard to choose: there were no fewer than 10 sessions at the Education Parade that focused on language. For example, what does the rise of generative AI, such as ChatGPT, mean for our writing education? Tineke de Waal - de Boer gave a session on this: These language models are available and our students are using them. And that is fine, but we want students to learn to think logically and creatively for themselves and to be able to put these thoughts 'on paper' in a structured and convincing way. You can, under certain conditions, use a language model as a writing coach. You can even learn a lot from it. Ultimately, however, students must be able to weigh up which suggestions from a language model to accept or reject, and why. So, despite this new technology, writing knowledge and skills remain a requirement".

    What else is possible? Language education consultant Tamar Israel took colleagues through the possibilities. Check it out here:

    Tackling social issues together 

    “Together we can achieve more,” says Erik van Dijk, Theme Coordinator Energy Transition. That is why he presented his session together with colleagues from other institutions: "The energy transition movement needs more manpower than we in education can provide. So we need to develop other target groups with appropriate educational concepts. Because the issue is multidisciplinary and also multi-level, we are developing a continuous learning line from MBO level 4 up to our Masters on Energy Transition, together with the Technical College Rotterdam and the Shipping and Transport College. We also see that SMEs need our research to carry out the necessary research and development. So, because of the increasingly tight labour market, we see more and more integration in education, both internally and externally with research, entrepreneurs and government".

    Within the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, several institutes are experimenting with the sixth semester. Eveline Bijleveld, Theme Coordinator Circularity, and lecturer Thomas Linders gave an insight into what it takes to make such a sixth semester possible: