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Virtual Classroom opened at Autumn Festival Teaching & Learning Lab

Being taught from a distance, and still sit in the front row. This is possible with a virtual classroom. At the Teaching & Learning Lab’s Autumn Festival on November 22, the very first virtual classroom in the Netherlands was opened in front of the more than 200 participants.

Virtual Classroom

Foto: Fridolin v.d. Lecq

Workshops and lectures at the Autumn Festival

The festival also offered a wide range of workshops with the common denominator of educational innovation and ICT. Employees of the Freudenthal Institute let the participants experience how the puzzlebox works, an artfully designed box that students have to crack within 40 minutes, while learning things about mathematics or biology without noticing. The same applies to the Mastermind Escape Room for teachers. By using online tools for interaction in class, the participants could escape from the room. Learning to program can also take place unnoticed; by working with a programming language for music, students make compositions and learn to write a program.

Trainers of the university-wide online learning program, Educate-it, showed how you can improve your education step by step, for instance through the targeted use of knowledge clips. There was also discussion about the added value of virtual and augmented reality for education and a trainer from Kleinkunstig showed how to create a virtual world yourself as a teacher.

 Autumn festival plenary session

In a plenary session, university professor José van Dijck spoke with educational innovator Jan Haarhuis about the digitization of education. Educational scientist Casper Hulshof subsequently commented on this critically.

Parallel to the Autumn Festival, students and staff worked together all day on challenges for better and more modern education in two Design Thinking sessions, on the Utrecht time machine and Challenge-based education, respectively. During the drink they pitched their results, using self-made paintings.

View the photo impression and clip of the Autumn Festival, and the full program.

Opening virtual classroom

During the Autumn Festival, the participants saw how Annetje Ottow (vice-president of the Executive Board) and Isabel Arends (dean of the Faculty of Science) opened the virtual classroom.

In the virtual classroom, 36 students can attend a lecture live. In doing so, they can talk to the teacher they are looking at, ask questions via an app function and respond to questions, propositions and quizzes from the teacher. The teacher can also divide the students into teams, and then have them consult with each other.

From January, teachers can book the classroom for their course with an online audience. In this way they can teach students from different universities at the same time. For example, Karin Rebel (senior lecturer at Geosciences) will teach a course on sustainability for the universities of Utrecht, Eindhoven and Wageningen. In addition, live distance learning can contribute to sustainability objectives. Students can be reached far away, even abroad, without having to travel. And the interaction in the virtual classroom brings them closer.

Author: Frans van Dam (Freudenthal Institute)
Translation: Nathalie Kuijpers (Freudenthal Institute)
Small photos: Thomas Fasting