What do you hate most about the COVID-19 pandemic? If you said something similar to not being able to travel, then we totally agree with you. Recently, we reaffirmed the importance of having to meet people face-to-face and to interact with each other. And what better place to do this if not visiting our partners from the Da Vinci College in the Netherlands?

From October 6th, 2021 to October 8th, 2021 the DTAM team enjoyed wonderful Dutch hospitality in the pleasant city of Dordrecht. Yeah, we actually met, for the first time in 13 months of working on this project and it was a big deal, which deserved its own article.

There’s actually so much to tell, that we don’t even know where to start, but we’ll try anyway.

Our hosts

The Da Vinci College is a medium-sized regional VET College (they’ve got just some ~12,000 students) offering a great variety of secondary vocational courses in various branches including (in)-company training and education for adults. Da Vinci also offers general secondary education for adults and integration courses. Their privately founded University of Applied Science HBO Drechtsteden has Bachelor and Post-Bachelor’s training and Associate Degree programs in the fields of technology, business management, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and ICT.

Our hosts Mr. Jan-Willem Huisman and Mr. Michael Beljaars (a couple of good-looking fellas, who teach at the IT & Media Department) were kind enough to organize a wholesome touring experience, where we got to see their working-teaching environments, laboratories and meet some of the friendly staff working at the college. Part of that tour included meeting the Dean of the IT & Media department – Mr. Martijn van Cooten, who himself accompanied us for most of our stay at the college. He even shared his vision on transforming education and putting the focus on students’ needs and we can’t wait to share all that with you, but that deserves its own article too. So, we saw quite some interesting stuff during our tour, to say the least. Here are some of them.

The Azzurro building

Fun fact: educational departments at the Da Vinci College are gathered in distinctive buildings, which bear the name and have the looks of a particular color, spelled in Italian e.g. behold the The Azzurro building (Azzurro is the Italian word for the color blue): home to the IT, Tourism & Recreation & Sport courses and the VAVO courses.

At the Da Vinci College, you will also find that they’ve got something called “Duurzaam heids fabriek” i.e. the Sustainability factory: a separate space dedicated to stimulating innovation, providing a hybrid learning environment for students, strengthening VET, and shaping technology promotion. And believe us when we say they’ve got some interesting stuff in there. The idea behind the Sustainability factory is pretty simple: students get the chance to learn by working on real practical assignments from companies. They call this hybrid education. Here’s how part of it looks like from the inside (hover over the images to find out more):

The “Huis van de energietransitie”

Yep, this is exactly what it looks like: a house. It’s called “Huis van de energietransitie” i.e. The energy transition house. And yes, they’ve actually built this to facilitate many of the VET training courses Da Vinci College offers in order to provide a teaching-learning experience as close to the real environment as possible.

Huis van de energietransitie

Front look of the “Huis van de energietransitie” i.e. The energy transition house.

A more realistic learning experience

If this photo reminds you of a factory type of pipe engineering, well that because it actually is. The Sustainability Factory has an energy-efficient mechanical installation. The building itself is a another learning object. For example, the heat and cold storage installation in the Sustainability Factory has been used as a learning workspace and the air handling unit is equipped with glass so that the students can see how it works.

The meeting

As already mentioned, it took us a whole year before we could actually get together and officially meet each other. In fact, that would have been really odd if it wasn’t for the pandemic and all the limitations it brought. Having said that, we actually had already made quite some progress and this was just the right time to come face to face and talk about how we can push the project forward.

Following the Da Vinci College tour and meeting, we moved over to a “Joint vision on education” activity which helped us align our expectations about the DTAM project overall and actually helped us identify some key discussion topics to address during the rest of the meeting in general.

So, throughout the course of two days, we discussed important issues such as the characteristics of the DTAM IoT Hub and other matters like how we can improve our training course to better suit our stakeholders and last but not least – how we can actually put together a training course which can facilitate an effective learning experience. No pressure there.

We are pleased to inform you, however, that we’ve managed to paint a really good draft of the next steps we are going to have to take and also made some valuable improvements on what we’ve already created so far. Here’s part of out task list, which we wil be focusing on in the coming months:

  • Improve the already developed training modules on Big Data & Machine Learning, Cyber security, Transversal skills, IoT and Advanced sensorica;
  • Create and embed working assignments that will facilitate the actual learning process of the training, including using the DTAM IoT Hub.
  • Enable the international aspect of the training course by involving multiple stakeholder groups from the partnering countries.
  • Provide options for learning interactiveness by setting up a dedicated e-training platform
  • Set-up a first draft of the DTAM IoT Hub and test its capabilities. (Want an easter egg? I think we are fans of the Raspberry Pi).

So, quite a lot of work remains ahead, but rest asured that we are now even more dedicated and excited to built a quality DTAM experiences for the students and all others which will be taking advantage of this ambitious project of ours.

We need your support too, so please feel free to contact us if you would like to collaborate, contribute or simply share your experience with us. You may also help simply by spreading the word about the DTAM project via hashtag #dtamproject or following us on social media.

As always, stay tuned, because we’ve got some more stories of inspiration for you coming up.

Finally, we would like to thank our partners from ROC Da Vinci College for their wonderful hospitality and all the great experiences they gave us: Jan-Willem Huisman, Michael Beljaars, Martijn van Cooten, Frits Silano, Sietske van Voorthuijsen, Tamara Gideonse and Timon Jongkind.

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