Simon Tans
Simon Tans

Column Simon Tans: A network of innovators or of all lecturers?

A VR simulation of a room where preconceptions on the topic of forces are dispelled, 3D models of subjects where scales are changed, learning environments where students are transported into the world of professionals through digital story telling.

'Raising my voice works, but how do I best get students to be quiet when I start my lecture? '

A case study developed in H5P, where students empathise with the world of an international lawyer, peer review feedback tools and a Community of Practice where students work on social problems together with teachers and professionals from different countries.  

'The topic of my lecture is quite sensitive, students might feel uncomfortable during my lesson. How can I tackle this properly? '

Through the TLC vouchers and Comenius grants and my role at the TLC, I see many initiatives by lecturers of all faculties. Since the moment the TLC was founded, many lecturers have known where to find us when they are developing or innovating education. This is probably precisely why I also get that other signal, that the TLC is too far ahead, or running in the wrong direction, and far away from daily practice. That there is no time, and no need to develop education. Where education is already running along fine and the TLC is not needed.  

'Filtering fifty unread mails and answering the important ones, newsletter and similair emails go to the trash for now.'

Many of the people I meet at the TLC, I meet regularly. In that respect, the initial intention of the TLC, to form a network of employees at our university, regarding education in the broad sense (educational development, research on education and lecturer wellbeing) has succeeded. And it is genuinely cool to see what we have done in the past two years, and what is currently going on.  

'Ugh, today I'm teaching that working group again with the three boys that keep interrupting.'

But the very lecturers who are not revising a course or exploring a particular mode of instruction and whether it leads to better results, that is the group I am trying to reach through these columns. The very group that makes little use of the TLC constitutes the largest group of lecturers at our university. 

'Tomorrow I've got a lecture, just going to go through the PowerPoint while adjusting and re-reading my notes.'

Last year, a theme I encountered, and that many of us currently face, was the empty lecture hall. And I think every lecturer can benefit from peer reviews. Novice lecturers, but also lecturers who have many years of experience.  

'I am behind in keeping up with current affairs, luckily, I am not teaching tomorrow.'

The TLC has the ambition to create a network consisting of all lecturers, and not just of passionate innovators who are setting up a new interdisciplinary course to integrate sustainability into their curriculum. Especially the practical education-related issues can make a huge impact.  

'What a passive group today, how do I flow a dead horse?'

We organise an introduction for new employees, for example. During these meetings, I noticed that it really helps new employees to share their thoughts on practical day-to-day things. I think that this is not only helpful for new employees. 

'Is the exam question truly a representation of the literature and what they've studied? How do other lecturers do that?'

To be clear: the lecturer asking questions in cursive is me. I find both perspectives in this column relevant. For me, it is an asset to be able to talk about the questions in cursive with others through the TLC network, especially with people at other faculties. Are the questions in cursive recognisable? (How) do you share your questions with colleagues? 

You can reply to this column via simon.tans [at] ru.nl (simon[dot]tans[at]ru[dot]nl)

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Dr S.J. Tans (Simon)