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New Pillars Education Model

At Utrecht University, education is at the heart of our business. That is why we evaluate and enhance not only our teaching, but also our education model. In 2018 the Utrecht Model of Education was expanded upon with three new pillars. These pillars are Customized Learning, Evidence-Based Higher Education, and Sustainable Innovation.

In its ongoing efforts to future-proof teaching at Utrecht University, the university is investing in the development of “customised learning”: adaptive teaching methods tailored to the specific abilities, needs, interests and optimal learning strategies individual learners[1]. The concept of ‘Customised learning’ will be added to Utrecht Model of Education, as will ‘Evidence-based higher education’ and ‘Sustainable innovation’.

In support of customised learning at UU, the Educate-it programme will be working on subjects like personalised learning, which uses learning analytics to show students and teachers how each student is developing and progressing, allowing for constant adjustments to the academic programme. This method was introduced, tested and researched in the veterinary medicine Master’s degree programme in 2010 – one of the first programmes in the world to do so. Over the coming years, this same kind of programmatic evaluation will be applied to formative assessment, feedback, etc., as learning analytics come into common usage throughout the university.

At the Future Learning Spaces project, they’re working on the transition from the traditional classroom to a virtual classroom, pausing along the way to consider the advantages of all kinds of hybrid forms. The development of the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) will facilitate learning anytime, anywhere. The NGDLE will also support the formation and maintenance of communities, be they virtual or in person, on-campus or off.

[1] What a stark contrast between the Industrial Age assembly line and today’s Information Age customisation technology. Customised learning presents a desirable and attainable vision that allows learning systems to leave the Industrial-Age, time-based approach to instruction and replace them with an Information-Age, learning-based system that:

  • Meets every learner at his/her learning level,
  • Provides learning opportunities that align with the learner’s optimal learning strategy, and
  • Allows the learner to study and learn skills and concepts using content that is relevant and interesting.

Utrecht University is embracing Evidence-based Higher Education as one of the pillars of its educational model and creating expertise about educational innovation and blended learning. Taking this approach means that, as much as is possible, educational innovations implemented at the university are based on scientific findings.

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Due in part to how rapidly technology is evolving, educational innovations will need to be constantly support and scientifically studied. That’s the only way to stop education from falling behind the times and that infrastructure is necessary if we are to respond to new didactic possibilities as they arise.

  • Support for educational innovation
  • Advice for the Centre for Academic Teaching about structural solutions for educational innovation
  • The results of studies into the effects of innovations will lead to well-founded decisions