Why this Month of Education?
‘It’s intended to look at what we’ve learned from the crisis and where we’re going from here. Part of this is recognising and rewarding all the efforts that were already made since last year. We want to put people in the spotlight and allow everyone to learn from each other. We’re trying to respond to the needs of the faculty, and we think this is how we can give back in a bigger way.’
What does the programme look like?
‘We tried to strike a balance between talks from external experts and success stories from colleagues. We created a diverse programme, in collaboration with TELT and CELT. Some parts are intended to be small-scale, like a session on pre-recording video lectures. Other parts are thematically a bit bigger, for instance in the lessons we’ve learned from this crisis. Therefore we will have a panel discussion with rector Tom Veldkamp, to discuss the positive changes we want to keep. In the end, all sessions are about inspiring and being inspired. There were a lot of good ideas and initiatives already – the lightboard from professor Srirang Manohar for example. We can expose more people to these kinds of good ideas.’
With the work pressure in mind, how will people find a way to attend a month full of these sessions?
‘None of it is mandatory, of course. Most sessions are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually the least education-intensive days. And we try to be flexible and have these sessions in short bites, since naturally people are a bit tired of the multitude of online meetings. Also, by spreading things out, we aim to reach as many people as possible. We hope people will at the very least sample parts of it, the parts they’re most interested in. Since we’re nearing the end of the academic year, this is also an optimal time for reflection and inspiration. This is an opportunity, not an obligation. That’s the message we hope will resonate.’
Moving forward, what do you hope to achieve with this event?
‘I know there are a lot of people who can’t wait to go back to the way things were, but I think we need to realise and embrace that we’re heading towards a new reality. This isn’t only related to the corona crisis. We also see this month as an opportunity to focus on more diverse academic competencies and a broader approach of personal and professional development. We used to have a UT-wide Education Day. People didn’t get a day off for this event, so it only attracted a group of usual suspects. Since education is such an important part of our everyday business, it’s not something that you can only focus on in a day – or a month even. So we also see this as something that can inspire others to pick up more focus on education. Maybe next year, another faculty will host a similar event. We’re taking a step in the right direction with this month of education and invite the entire UT community to join.’