How do you involve students in education and educational innovation? Including the perspective of students in the design and innovation of education is very important. After all, education is for the student. That's why Educate-it has developed a student think tank: a programme in which students can give input on educational innovation projects during four sessions that Educate-it is currently carrying out within the UU. In return, they can gain new knowledge and skills. This autumn, the second edition was completed. Below is an interview with Aleid de Jong, project leader of the think tank and participants Dagmar Bon (both pictured) and Sanne de Mooij.
Aleid, tell us, how did the student think tank come about?
The think tank originated from Educate-it's student engagement project, in which we are looking for ways to involve students in educational innovation. There are various ways of involving students in educational innovation, and one very specific way of doing that is by having them give input for educational innovation projects that are currently being carried out within the UU. In this way, students can really think along about the further development of these projects. To ensure that students could provide targeted input, during the think tank sessions they were first provided with the background and context of one specific project. Subsequently, they could provide feedback on this by means of assignments.
Sanne, why did you want to participate in this?
I have always enjoyed being involved in thinking about the possible changes within education. I was a master's student at UU and due to corona I only visited the university twice, so for me it was also an additional way to connect with the university and fellow students.
Dagmar, how did you experience the meetings?
Fun! It gave an extra dimension to my study background in Educational Sciences because it provided me with an opportunity to also apply my knowledge in practice. Besides that, I found it interesting to think about the same topic with students from other disciplines, this provides many new insights.
What do you hope will be taken away from the think tank meetings?
Sanne: Once, we talked about modularization, where you as a student can choose the subjects that are covered in your study programme. A student from Liberal Arts & Sciences was present at the think tank and modularization is already partly happening within that study programme. During the think tank session, where we mainly saw the advantages of modularization, this student indicated that it is important to keep an eye on the connection between students, because there is much less of a fixed group of fellow students because of the unique composition of the courses. I thought this was an important point and I hope that this will be taken into consideration when modularization will occur more.
Do you recommend it to other students to participate in a future edition?
Yes, definitely! I found the practical approach to cases very interesting and getting to know students from other educational backgrounds was very enriching, also for your network.
Aleid, what do you take away from these meetings for the next think tank?
Based on the advice of last year's participants, I am going to try to offer the meetings more blended, so that students can read up on the topic prior to the session and then during the session we will have more time for group assignments and joint discussions of those topics.
What is your appeal to students reading this who are also thinking about participating?
Of course, education has been undergoing tremendous change over the past year and a half, with the online aspect taking center stage. Every student has their own unique experience with this and we are very curious to hear about those experiences! So do you want to have your say? Then sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org for the next edition and contribute to developing the education of the future.