11 February 2020

March 2020 is Engaging education month

Engaged students tend to process subject matter better and are better equipped to engage in deep learning during classroom hours. Engaging exercises that make sense in the context of your course keep your students involved and invested. That is why Educate-it organises the month of the engaging education. As a teacher, would you like your students to come to class well-prepared? Would like to see more interaction in your classroom? Would you like to connect to your students? Do you get the sense your message might not be coming across? Offer for teachers Teachers interested in learning about engaging education and the best ways to use it in education will be invited to take part in various workshops and IT tools. A comprehensive list of our offerings can be found on the Month of the Engaging education page.  In Engaging Education, students actively engage with the subject matter, doing things like connecting what they’re learning to what they already know, actively and deliberately practicing certain skills and applying their knowledge to problem-solving exercises. Research* reveals that when a teaching method increases how involved a student is (meaning the student is more ‘engaged’ in constructing knowledge), students achieve better academic outcomes. Are you interested in engaging education but too busy right now to take part in any of our activities? Naturally, the online training courses are available year-round and you can always get in touch with us to get the support you need. Next month (April), our theme will be Skills. *) Many studies into the effectiveness of engaging education have been performed and included in large meta-analyses and reviews. In general, these studies show that teaching methods that actively engage students with their own learning process lead to better academic outcomes. It is important to remember, however, that engaging teaching methods vary greatly, and so might the academic outcomes they lead to.  (Chi & Wylie, 2014; Freeman et al.,2014).

8 January 2020

Februari 2020 is (Peer) feedback month

Feedback is an important part of the educational process. It shows students where they are in the learning process and what they need to improve. For that reason Educate-it organises this February the (peer) feedback month. Do you as a teacher want to get started with assessing written assignments? Do you want your students to offer each other well-structured feedback on assignments? Or an online environment in which students can place pitches? Offer for teachers Teachers interested in learning about (peer) feedback and the best ways to use them in education will be invited to take part in various workshops, online trainings and IT tools. A comprehensive list of our offerings can be found on the Educate-it (Peer) feedback month page. Good feedback bridges the gap between the student’s current level of ability and the level they need to achieve. For feedback to be effective, it must be aligned with the course’s learning objectives and it must motivate students to strive for the ability level that is expected of them. With peer feedback, students receive most of their feedback from their classmates. Are you interested in knowledge clips but too busy right now to take part in any of our activities? Naturally, the online training courses are available year-round and you can always get in touch with us to get the support you need. In March, our theme will be Engaging education.

9 December 2019

Programme online: come to the strengthen-your-education-week

On 27 January, the strengthen-your-education-week will start with a diverse and wide range of activities aimed at strengthening and innovating your education. The programme is now online with numerous workshops, lunch meetings and tailor-made advice, organised by the partners of the Centre for Academic Teaching. The programme is of interest to all UU teachers, whether you give a few lectures, supervise one thesis a year, coordinate multiple courses, and even if you’re already working on strengthening your education. What are you going to choose: a round table discussion on programmatic assessment, one of the teaching toolworkshops to strengthen your education, a faculty educational lunch or the Wintercourse on blended learning? And how about a ‘professional consultation à la carte’ with an education expert for tailor-made advice for your education? These activities are spread over different university sites. Take a look and register for one or more of the 27 activities!

2 December 2019

Education in the virtual classroom

The first virtual classroom at a Dutch university is here. Utrecht University staff will be able to book this space from January 2020. In the meantime, there are a lot of experiments going on. But what is a virtual classroom? Currently, simultaneous online education often happens via webinars. A major disadvantage of webinars is that interaction between teacher and students is limited. The virtual classroom solves this problem. In the 'classroom', all students are visible to both the teacher and the students, just as if they were sitting in the front row. The teacher stands in front of a wall with six screens, each showing six students. Each column of screens has its own camera. This ensures that when the teacher addresses students on the right-hand screens, they see that he is actually looking at them. At the bottom of the six screens are two more screens on which the teacher can see his presentation, quiz results and online questions. The virtual classroom simulates the interaction from traditional classrooms as much as possible and actually goes one step further. An example from a typical lesson could be: The teacher starts with an explanation of two theories. After 15 minutes he notices that the students are less involved. So he decides to start a quiz at that moment. He asks which of the two theories can best explain a particular item from this morning’s news. The teacher sees the students’ answers on the screen of each student and shows all students the distribution of the answers. The teacher then asks two students in person (the name of each person is shown on their screen) to explain their answers. A discussion arises. Meanwhile, the teacher sees that there are several 'silent questions' coming in from students who do not understand the difference between the two theories. The teacher closes the discussion and answers the students' questions. Photographer: Fridolin van der Lecq

2 December 2019

Utrecht University opens first virtual classroom

At Utrecht University it is now possible to teach in a virtual classroom. The classroom is the first of its kind at a Dutch university and is used for simultaneous real-time online education and for collaborating remotely. In a virtual classroom, the instructor operates from a studio and has video contact with all students; as though they are all in the front row. The virtual classroom - in the Teaching & Learning Lab in the Buys Ballot Building - was officially opened during the Autumn Festival by Annetje Ottow, Vice President of the Executive Board, and Isabel Arends, dean of the Faculty of Science. Over the next two years, the UU will invest in new IT and audiovisual resources that are tailored to the needs of teachers, researchers and staff in order to be able to collaborate and teach remotely. In this way, the executive board also encourages universities to travel less. The virtual classroom contributes to innovating our education and promote internationalization and sustainability. Annetje Ottow is pleased that almost all internal facility & service providers (like the audiovisual department) and the Faculty of Science are working together to achieve this. "The virtual classroom is an asset to Utrecht's education system, but also contributes to sustainability. By using IT/AV resources, we make remote learning and collaboration possible. It is also ideal for collaborating within our strategic alliances with TU Eindhoven and WUR, CHARM-EU and in the context of LERU. Of course, it's important that you meet colleagues or students abroad live. But sometimes that is possible in a digital way too, and the virtual classroom helps in this effort." Tailored to the needs of users The virtual classroom is the first audiovisual facility to be delivered as a result of the investment in new IT/AV resources. Both the Educate-it and Sustainability Programme are working together to create a series of new facilities for all employees of the university. There will be plenty of experiments with the virtual classroom in the coming period. Successful experiments will be scaled up. Educate-it already uses this method successfully to make teaching tools available. Instead of filling the university with the technology of which the added value has not yet been proven, the UU opts to facilitate good solutions for online collaboration that are tailored to the needs of users. More facilities will soon be available for experimentation: the Governance Lab at USBO and the Hybrid Active Learning Classroom on the Bolognalaan. Join in! Do you want to collaborate online but don't know how to organize this? Do you want to participate in experiments with advanced equipment or do you have a good idea? Call the Educate-it desk at 030 - 253 2197 or mail to

13 November 2019

December 2019 is Knowledge Clip month

By using knowledge clips in education, students arrive at their lecture, tutorial or practical well-prepared to participate. This frees up classroom time for in-depth exploration of the subject matter. Using knowledge clips in education increases the motivation of students, they are given (even more) responsibility for their own study process. That’s why Educate-it organises the Month of the Knowledge clip.  40% of UU teachers use knowledge clips in their education. They use these in 50% of their courses. This was shown in a survey conducted by Educate-it in 2019 among nearly 500 teachers. Instructors who do not yet use knowledge clips indicate that they are too busy or do not have sufficient knowledge about the possibilities.  Reuse of knowledge clips increases About a thousand new knowledge clips are recorded each academic year. The reuse of previously recorded clips is growing. Of the 3,114 knowledge clips used in education in 2018/2019, 66% were reused knowledge clips, which were recorded in previous years. Once recorded, knowledge clips can be used several times in subsequent courses, so the investment of time pays back for itself and it can even save time. The knowledge clip recordings can be shared by teachers and reused within courses, curriculum, UU wide and beyond. Knowledge clips partly replace lectures. The time that has become available as a result of reuse is used for student guidance.  Offer for teachers Teachers interested in learning about knowledge clips and the best ways to use them in education will be invited to take part in various workshops and IT tools. A comprehensive list of our offerings can be found on the Month of the Knowledge clip.   Are you interested in Knowledge clips but too busy right now to take part in any of our activities? The next Month of the Knowledge clips is in May 2020. Naturally, the online training courses are available year-round and you can always get in touch with us to get the support you need. In February, our theme will be Feedback.