On september 19th I visited the conference of the Digital University (a consortium of dutch universities and institutes for higher vocational education). The Dutch title "Haal meer uit de DU" means that the focus is to share products and experiences that have been achieved in the past year in a broad range of collaborative projects.
Besides having my own poster presentation on the project "Integrated Science Education" I visited two workshops and two plenary sessions. In my opinion the workshops were highly inspiring. The first one I joined was about Web 2.0. In summary it gave a good overview of using social software (wiki, blog, social bookmarking and social networking) in an educational context. Some conclusions were that a group blog is more suited to support learning than a blog which is maintained by one or two people. Group reflection is the central issue.
Wiki's provide a common feeling of working together on a result. It can be confronting on the one hand (others may change or delete your contribution), but everyone is invited to contribute. Everyone can be engaged on an equal basis.
Unfortunately the session itself was not very interactive (only presentation and a few short questions).
The other workshop I visited was mainly given by students who were involved in the instructional design process of a part of the curriculum. Based on their own experiences they worked together with the teachers, trying to improve courses for future student groups. Both students and teacher were enthousiastic about this interesting approach.
The plenary sessions (keynote by Marinus Dekkers and a panel discussion at the end) were not very inspiring to me. I did not hear many new insights, and especially the acoustics in the lecture hall were not very good to keep track of the panel discussion. The discussion itself was also rather vague. My overall impression (which was shared by some people I talked at the conference) is that it is very much about competence based learning, i.e., a focus on vocational education. However, within the (Dutch) university context this is not (yet) the mainstream of their didactical approach.
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