I am a political scientist with my roots in New York city, heart in the tropics, and specialized in knowledge management, which I freely define as the scala of activities between online learning and knowledge sharing on the one hand, and information management on the other. Since March 2009 I am the teamleader ICT in Education at the College and Graduate School of Social Sciences and encounter this broad scala of activities in my work.
Prior to the UvA, I worked at the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), responsible for coordinating IICDs knowledge and information management strategy. This included, the corporate website, the community knowledge sharing web platform, intranet and the management information system. All of which were built with open source Plone/Zope technology.
I also managed the Dgroups portfolio on behalf of IICD, a partnership of 27 development organisations and 107,000+ users. Furthermore, I scouted the market for upcoming technologies in order to safeguard a stable, efficient and effective use of resources available, to support IICDswork and that of its partners.
The most fun I had was developing and implementing the web 2.0 intranet for my social media savy colleagues, and co-organizing and participating in the Web2forDev conference hosted by FAO in Rome.
At the InternationalAgricultural Centre (IAC) I worked on e-learning and digital projects. This included designing/creating the corporate website, the intranet, developing the strategy for online capacity building, building web applications for administrative processes, and web portals and e-learning modules for online knowledge sharing.
Where it all began, and where I definetly had alot of fun! In this job my eyes were opened to the opportunities the internet offers as a learning and knowledge sharing medium, the importance and effectiveness of edutainment, applying and developing digital didactics... so much learning to be had from Lara vanDruten, Vic Klabbers and prof. Gerd Junne.
They challenged me and created a setting wherein I was able to learn and develop skills in doubletime. I worked as an account manager,instructional designer, graphics designer, web developer and programmer, also playing a key role in the building of TNU's specialized e-learning platform.
2007 "Users and tools: the art of matchmaking. Challenges in choosing appropriate online collaboration tools for development professionals and practitioners" Vic Klabbers, Nynke Kruiderink. Knowledge Management for Development Journal, Vol3, No 1.
2007 "Development through Dialogue: a Showcase of Dgroups from three perspectives; Institutional, Project and Capacity Development Level". Titi Akinsamni, Andrea Aranguren, Manju Chatani, Nynke Kruiderink and Theresa Stanton . Knowledge Management for Development Journal, Vol 3, No 1.
2007 28-30 November; Workshoptitled "The potentials of web 2.0 for development" during the fourth session of the Web for Development Conference, UN-HABITAT, Nairobi , Kenya . Presented together with Mr. C. Kreutz, Knowlegde management officer at GTZ.
I will not quickly forget when Nynke Bos* declared in 2009: " Smart phone ownership has grown to 50% in one year amongst our students. " A mouthwatering statistic for an ICT in education policy maker! Something you can bite into and use to anticipate future service and teaching/learning opportunities. When she started working at the Faculty of Humanities, and planned to hold the same survey amongst her 'new' students, I jumped on that band wagon and suggested we hold it amongst the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences as well. And as a good idea often does, it ballooned into a survey amongst all students of the University of Amsterdam.
Behold, the result of our toils (with a huge thanks to everyone who helped us on this endeavor!): " How do students use ICTs in Higher Education? ".
The survey focused on four areas:
And now we don't have to guess the answer anymore when we ask ourselves the questions: do 50% of all UvA students have a smart phone, and what model? How often do they use Facebook, how many own a tablet and do they prefer digital syllabi versus hard copy? Should we provide affordable tablets? Do most of them have Macs, or a windows laptop? What do they prefer, more commitment for digital tests or the use of ICTs for increased interaction with their teachers?
Here are some things we can conclude based on this survey:
Now comes the time where we analyze and discuss what these statistics mean for the way forward.
What students want does not immediately imply that is in their best interest. For example, if supplying web lectures structurally (in a setting where lecture attendance is not mandatory) results in less attendance, this could affect the experience of studying in a negative way. Knowing what they want does however provide insight into how best to approach them when aiming to increase student engagement, increase succesful completion of study programmes and identifying where possible deficiencies exist.
The university has the task to prepare students for future careers, as scientists, researchers, public servants and private sector employees/entrepreneurs. In this role the university needs to keep an eye on the current and future demands made on employers and employees of the future, and provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills. Insufficient ICT literacy may be a hindrance in achieving the most out of a study programme as well as the ability to apply existing potential fully in later careers. Providing too many support measures to assist studying may be considered coddling, when the skill of managing self-study is a very beneficial one in the perspective of life-long-learning. In this regard the phase of study should play a part when choosing which support measures to implement and which ICT literacy skills to hone.
This study " How do students use ICTs in Higher Education? "is a step towards ensuring that the educational policies set out by the university is a match with the levels, tools and needs of students. It is my recommendation that it should be monitored annually, building on the experience we have now.