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‘Coronavirus has opened our eyes to the use of IT in education’

Koen Haex is vice president of Sirius, one of the two study societies affiliated with the honorary bachelor’s degree programme of Law: Utrecht Law College (ULC). Koen, together with members of various committees, is responsible for the curriculum-related events at Sirius. To begin with, the Corona crisis appeared to throw a spanner in the works as it was no longer possible to get together in person. Fortunately, Educate-it’s IT tools proved a solution.

Koen: ‘At first, it looked as if Corona would completely paralyse our study society. All planned events were cancelled. In a joint effort by all the committees, we then started looking for solutions. Fortunately, we managed to either postpone or digitise some of the events.’

Koen Haex (left) with his fellow board members

‘One of the most important elements of our honorary programme is that the students actively organise their own development. Participation in a number of larger events, such as the modules, is obligatory. Modules are a series of five or six interactive lectures which collectively allow for an in-depth focus on a single subject. In principle, all society members are expected to take part in one of these modules each year. Corona led us to search for ways to provide the modules online and make use of existing lectures. We soon found that it was not easy to find experts who, in these hectic times, were available in the evening to provide a live web lecture. Obviously, we could just have sent the participants the links to the lectures, but that I deemed too obligation-free. Normally, rather strict requirements apply to the participants’ actual presence. To prevent the online modules from carrying less weight than the regular ones, we hoped to find an easy way to record whether all participants had participated in the online meetings and done so within the given timeframe. We also wished to find a way to render the videos more interactive. That’s when we remembered we had attended a course in which we had made use of an online tool.’

After a short search, Koen came into contact with Educate-it and asked whether he, as a board member of Sirius, could also make use of the tools Educate-it has to offer. Indeed, this turned out to be no problem: ‘Our collaboration with Educate-it run rather smoothly. I was provided with sound answers to all of my initial questions, and they were prepared to think along to make sure that I would be using the right tool. How to actually use the tool I mainly worked out by myself, with the aid of an instruction manual which they provided me with’.

To begin with, the study society made use of ScalableLearning, but this tool is no longer available. That’s why it is being replaced by FeedbackFruits Interactive Video. ‘Which was unfortunate, as I had just got the hang of ScalableLearning. Thankfully, Educate-it helped me out wonderfully in the transition to FeedbackFruits. This programme looks more attractive, which is a bonus. Its main disadvantage is that all videos must be posted separately. In ScalableLearning I was able to put all videos in a ‘Course’, after which I had to provide the members with a single link only. This  is not (yet) possible in FeedbackFruits. What is good though, is that FeedbackFruits is still being further developed. In addition to the module meetings, we also offer other lectures to our members via  FeedbackFruits now.’

Asked what Koen thinks the future holds, he answers: ‘We would prefer to return to the old situation. There are online alternatives for most things, but they cannot beat the real live experience. We do, however, think that we will continue to make use of online tools. Not as a comprehensive alternative but, like now, as an additional element. We expect that Corona will have a positive effect on the use of IT in education. Everyone is currently obliged to check what options they have. That has opened our eyes and may lead to a well-thought-through, complementary application of IT in education.’