Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Finishing Grassroots

This month we will conclude the SURF Grassroots project which was run at the University of Twente within the faculty of Science and Technology. Grassroots projects are small innovative projects focused on helping teachers to embed ICT in their education. The interesting thing about Grassroots is that the financial incentive has a personal touch, meaning that the teacher who participates in a project may use the subsidy for personal purposes such as a conference visit or a piece of hardware that can be used within his work. However, when we look back at the Grassroots projects 2006 it is interesting to see that the personal incentive is not a very strong trigger to start a project. Teachers often have great ideas about what they could do with ICT to improve the quality of their subject, but simply don't have enough time to make inquiries about how to do that, what they can use and finally how to implement it. So what we see is that the Grassroots finances are mostly used to pay for teaching assistants and not for something like a study trip. The TA can work on a specific ICT-related assignment, sometimes only for a couple of weeks. The ideas are immediately implemented in the subject that a teacher has to give, which gives an opportunity to get feedback from the students and to make improvements for the next time. This makes the feedback cycle very short: teachers immediately can see whether their approach is succesful or not. In 2007 the Grassroots concept will be taken further within the faculty, as a means to help other teachers to innovate their education. The investment is relatively low, the benefit (and enthousiasm) you gain from it is remarkably high.

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