Rebuilding Education

Academic year2018-2019                                                                  
Day(s)Monday and Wednesday
Number of meetings        14
Dates all meetings15, 17, 29, 31 October, 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28 November, 3 and 5 December 2018
LocationVrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105, Amsterdam
RoomWednesday 28 November:  BV-1H24 

All other dates: BV-1H26 

The rooms are located in the BelleVU building which is number 1091 at this map)
Lecturers (not yet confirmed)
A neuroscientific perspective and the science of the individual Dr. Todd Rose. Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA A technological perspective and the use of new learning technologies
Youssef El Bouhassani, awarded ‘Lecturer of the year 2018 nationwide’, teaches applied math and senior researcher Urban Analytics.
Dr. Jochen Bretschneider. Ear-Nose-Throat-Surgeon, Filmmaker & Editor, Publisher and Apple Distinguished Educator Mobile Learning Initiative. Medical Education in Amsterdam, VU
A philosophical perspective and the goals of education
rof. dr. Doret de Ruyter. Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Educational Studies. Education, identity and diversity, VU. E:
A didactic perspective and the role of instructor and peers
Prof dr. Jan van Tartwijk: Chair of Applied Educational Sciences and chair of the Graduate School of Teaching, Utrecht University

A developmental psychologist perspective and the impact of neuromyths
Prof dr. Jelle Jolles: professor in Neuropsychology, VU

A societal perspective of educating the whole
Em. prof. mr. Eugène Sutorius & Michiel Tolman: initiators and chairman/director of the Bildung Academy

Workshop lecturers
MSc. Bertram Loth: Educational scientist and reformer, founder of the organization Hack Je Les, Groningen
MSc. Jorim Tielbeek: PhD student Neuroscience VU/VUmc, E:

Course Description

What is your favourite and least favourite learning experience? How would you redesign your own education if you could?

The majority of our educational career is spend in formal learning environments such as classrooms or lecture halls, where learners are too often positioned as passive-listening, watching, attending, consuming--rather than encouraged to engage as creators--designing, making, producing, constructing. In this course, students will actively (1) investigate different perspectives on educational innovation and (2) explore how to improve and redesign past or future learning experiences.

By addressing the complex connections between neuroscience, cognitive development, social change, technology and education, the course will tackle questions such as: What do we know about sleep, adolescent brains and learning in the early morning? Could shifting school days improve attendance rates? Moreover, our current educational system is designed for the ‘average’ student, yet is this approach grounded in empirical research? Or does recognition of individual complexity require educators to design ‘to the edges’ instead?

This course will introduce groundbreaking new perspectives taught by leading scholars, practitioners and thinkers in the field of education. Throughout the course students learn how such research and innovation can be applied to address personal real-world education challenges. Students will develop and present a research-based ‘action-plan’ to improve educational environments they encountered in their past or will encounter in their future educational path. The project should be grounded in science and naturally connect the student interests to the course themes.

Working formats and actitvities

1. Expert Seminars
Expert sessions are guided by a multidisciplinary panel of guest lecturers presenting cutting-edge research, and practitioners and teachers demonstrating their innovation in education through engagement with various new learning techniques, tools and resources.

2. Workshop Seminars
The workshops will deploy a wide range of teaching and learning methods (i.e. design thinking, question formulation technique) introduced during the expert seminars to engage participants in individual as well as collaborative problem-solving and reflection on the concerning educational themes. Within the workshops, the course coordinators will act as facilitators by assisting the students and stimulating peer-to-peer feedback to understand problems in a hands-on way, and by coaching them in attaining their personal and group-based goals.

Attainment targets/learning outcomes

Central underlying goal of the course: how can we initiate and foster educational innovation through different scientific perspectives?

Six learning outcomes, linked and specified to the six expert lectures by guest lecturers:

1)    ‘A neuroscientific perspective and the science of the individual’:
a.    Explore the science of the individual as a foundation for personalization in education.
b.    Evaluate the benefits and shortcomings of models, frameworks, and tools for personalized learning.
2)    ‘A technological perspective and the use of new learning technologies:’
a.    Identify pros and cons regarding new learning technologies such as MOOCs, blended learning, serious gaming and peer learning networks.
b.    Evaluate the benefits and shortcomings of the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that are used to support learning, teaching and assessment.
3)    ‘A philosophical perspective and the goals of education’:
a.    Identify philosophical assumptions implicit in education.
b.    Learn to critically analyse and assess the cognitive, affective, and political goals of the current Dutch educational system.
c.    Explore the difference between the effectiveness and efficiency of innovative educational projects and their overall contribution to individual learners.
4)    ‘A didactic perspective and the role of instructor and peers’:
a.    Explore the influence of student-relationships on learning.
b.    Study the extent and reach of how teachers can best enhance learning.
c.    Critically evaluate whether and how innovation should take place via the teacher.
5)    ‘A developmental psychologist perspective and the impact of neuromyths’:
a.    Identify the major neuromyths in education and evaluate the impact of such misconceptions on innovation.
b.    Discover how neuropsychological insights offer clues for educational improvements
6)    ‘A societal perspective of educating the whole’:
a.    Study how student participation can boost educational innovation.
b.    Study how competencies in empathy and expression can add to the usual critical-analytical skills acquired in conventional education.

Learning outcomes for the workshops: 

7)    Familiarize yourself and experiment with more active learning strategies, such as: design thinking, team-based learning and think-pair-share (TPS).  
8)    Develop the capacity to approach complex educational issues with multiple causes from different angles by offering multiple solutions.
9)    Establish research-practice connection by proposing research-based educational practice and practice-based research questions.
10)    Learn how to assess interventions on their proven effects.
11)    Build knowledge of and insight into factors that are important in the process of educational improvement.
12)    Learn to analyse and create a theory of action and convert this into a substantiated and feasible educational improvement plan.

Study Material

(all study materials will be uploaded online)

A selection of bookchapters:

•    Knud Illeris, How we learn: Learning and non-learning in school and beyond (Londen: Routledge, 2007)
•    Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (Hoboken: John Wiley And Sons Ltd, 2017)

Scientific papers selected by the guest lecturers, such as:

•    Paul A. Howard-Jones (2012). Neuroscience and education: myths and messages. Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
•    Rose, L. T., Rouhani, P., & Fischer, K. W. (2013). The science of the individual. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3), 152-158.

Assesment Methods

Team-based learning tests (20%)* and individual pop-up quizzes (10%), Research action plan (40%), Presentation of action plan (30%).