Delta-columnist Bob van Vliet.
In Bob van Vliet’s view one of the most important decisions that we need to take lies in the area of the digital infrastructure of our education. (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

A new committee is working on a new vision of education, keeping the experiences of the pandemic in mind. Who will be on the committee? Columnist Bob van Vliet.

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It looks like it really is happening: an end to all corona restrictions in education. But on the first day that an unlimited number of students could sit in a lecture hall again, a storm threw a wrench in the works. Again, we had to scramble, and rushed to switch to online sessions at the last minute, making do with what we had.

While this game of musical chairs has been going on for almost two years now, TU Delft still does not have a clear plan on how to run the digital side of our education. It is high time for of us to think about it. Because we are still making do with tools we hastily grabbed at the start of all this.

Last month a TU Delft wide committee set to work on just this issue: to develop a new vision on education with the experiences of the last two years in mind. I write about this issue a lot in my column, so I was one of the people that my Faculty approached to join. And of course, with my big mouth, I could hardly say no.

The committee is divided into three groups: one that takes the perspective of teachers; one that looks at the experience of students; and one that takes an institutional view. I joined the last one. Analysing the situation from the position of students and teachers is crucial. But to my mind, the more fundamental and pressing question is what TU Delft should start doing more of or differently as an organisation. In the end real change succeeds or fails with the right resources, structures and other preconditions.

This committee will be working on this for a while so any input is welcome

I think one of the most important choices that we need to make lies in the area of the digital infrastructure of our education. Do we want to remain dependent on the private, commercial platforms that we turned to in all our haste? No, that is dangerous, our Rector Magnificus and his counterparts at other universities argued (in Dutch) already before the pandemic. No, the Rathenau Institute concluded recently. No, was the conclusion at a meeting of the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). And it is not necessary. TU Delft researchers showed that in France and Germany fundamentally different decisions are being made.

I hope that this paper consensus will now lead to actual plans. Anyone reading my columns will know that I have been hoping for this for a while. I am sceptical about the revolutionary potential of ed-tech, but at the same time I am convinced of the determining influence of online platforms on the character of our education.

That is my view. But of course I do not have a special position or say in the new committee. And because it is a relatively small and arbitrary group of people, I am curious to know what others believe the conclusion should be after two years of forced distance learning, video calls, and alternative assessment.

What should we invest in? How? Do you know any good examples from elsewhere? This committee will be working on this for a while so any input is welcome. My email address is below. And I am @bbvnvlt on Twitter.

Bob van Vliet is a lecturer at the 3mE Faculty and is specialised in design education. Reactions are welcome via B.vanVliet@tudelft.nl.