What will you take away from Education Days 2023? Five pieces of inspiration

Nobody can see into the future, but it is crucial to delve into it. Especially in education, where we prepare students for the labour market of the future. SURF Education Days 2023 was all about 'Drawing the Future'. Discover five take-aways from the many sessions by institutions, students and education professionals.

1. Future foresight: experience the future now and increase your influence on the future

Of course, nobody can predict the future, but Yentl Croese and Tanja de Bie of Leiden University take us through what you can do in their session: using future foresight.

Read more about future foresight

Getting started with scenarios

Future foresight is a method for imagining the future. So that you can take action now to achieve desired parts of that future, and prevent unwanted ones. How do you put this into practice?

  • Take a scenario, for example: from academic year 2033/2034, students can freely compose their entire curriculum to best match labour market demand. With microcredentials, they build their degree.
  • And then do the following assignments (preferably in groups):
    • What emotions does the scenario evoke? And why?
    • Turn it into an artefact, with LEGO or craft stuff, that depicts that future.


In the session, these assignments caused much discussion: some were pleased with the sense of autonomy the scenario brings, others frustrated because it increases teachers' workload, and another was concerned whether students are ready for so much freedom. In the process, real-life artefacts were also made from the future scenario. Whole new worlds were created from LEGO, for example.

These activities cause us to shape the real future ourselves with these new ideas in mind, consciously or unconsciously.

Episodic future thinking

Important in future foresight is episodic future thinking. It involves using your imagination to imagine the future of a certain scenario as vividly as possible. As if you are already experiencing the future. If you do that, the solutions you come up with will automatically move in that direction. Just think of some examples from Star Trek: there we already saw tablets, mobile phones and medical implants. And these have become a full part of our daily lives. So an inspiring way to look at the future and feel like you can influence it yourself!

2. Learning together faster how to develop a Center for Teaching and Learning

The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is a hot topic in both wo, hbo and mbo. All educational institutions are developing a CTL. The HvA and Hogeschool Leiden are both developing their own CTL, and in this session they will also show how they cooperate with other institutions, so that not everyone is reinventing the wheel.

Read more about developing a CTL

Expanding cooperation

Initial reactions from the audience show that there is already quite a lot of cooperation between educational institutions. Art colleges, mbo schools: all are working together on different topics. This session inspired them to also start working together to develop the CTL!

We go on holiday together, but how to arrange it?

At both HvA and Hogeschool Leiden, they quickly noticed in conversations with teachers that there is enthusiasm to develop a CTL. Lecturers run into bottlenecks, so are happy that educational innovation will be centrally facilitated in a CTL. "It feels like: we are going on holiday together!", says Annelies van der Graaf of Leiden University of Applied Sciences. "But yes, then come questions like: where are we going, how much can it cost, are we going camping or in a cottage?"

For the CTL, you have to answer questions like:

  • Is the CTL going to be policy-driven or demand-driven? Of course, you want to be open to questions from teachers, but you presumably also want to put frameworks in place: what does and does not the CTL deal with?
  • Where do you put the CTL in the institution's organisational chart?
  • Following on from that: do you organise the CTL decentrally or centrally? This includes the question of how much it should cost.

Thinking together, learning together

Through informal contact, they noticed at HvA and Leiden University of Applied Sciences that it is nice to think together about the development of the CTL, in order to learn together and thus move forward. The initiative for a learning network then soon arose. There was an enthusiastic response, and now six colleges are already members.

How does the learning network work?

Every two months, one of the members holds a meeting focusing on a theme. Frowine den Oudenammer gvan Hogeschool Leiden: "It is very inspiring, because a lot of cross-pollination takes place during these sessions. We have now also set up a Teams environment, which makes sharing knowledge and experience even easier. We immediately decided that we want open learning in the learning network. We don't just want to share cheering stories, but also to be able to tell what we are up against, what problems we are experiencing. That way we can help each other."

3. The future campus is not set in stone, so keep talking about it

Draw the future: Eromesmarko has taken the Education Days 2023 theme a little further and has already built the future. The interior design firm is working with SURF on the Future Campus theme. And they built that future campus at the SURF Education Days.

Read more about the future campus

Trend report as basis

Bianca Krijgsman of Eromesmarko first explained the basis of their future campus: "We took three educational developments from the SURF Trend Report Future Campus, which we think will play a major role in the physical campus of the future:

  • The rise of blended, hybrid and online education: we are moving from pure knowledge transfer to facilitating interaction.
  • Growing importance of wellbeing, socialisation and inclusiveness.
  • Growing importance of and commitment to sustainability and green campus initiatives."

Five furnishing concepts

With those trends in mind, Erosmesmarko designed five concepts for the future campus:

  • The Welcome Area, where everyone is welcomed to the institution in a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Project Rooms, where students can collaborate live and/or online
  • The Hybrid Active Classroom, where students are taught whether they are present virtually or live. An active working attitude is essential here.
  • The Library, where students can work in concentration or collaborate in small groups.
  • The College Hall, where lectures can take place. But which can also easily be converted into a project room, for example, to make the most of the square metres.

Coffee cup shame

Nice concepts, but they are obviously not set in stone. This is clear from the discussion that follows on a number of propositions. Should you make the sustainable nature of the campus visible, for instance? In other words, should you 'advertise' it? Most listeners think so. "Once I use a cup instead of my own mug, I suffer from coffee cup shame. That was unthinkable 10 years ago," said one participant. "So good that sustainability is visible." But someone else thinks that sustainability should become so obvious that we no longer need to pay explicit attention to it. "It should not be a marketing trick, you should apply it everywhere; in your buildings and spaces, but also in education itself, for example."

How productive are students online?

There was also discussion on the statement, "Hybrid active learning ensures equal productivity for virtual and live students." Initially, most listeners agreed that virtually present students are less productive. But on reflection: online students usually know how to form a subgroup to work on an assignment just as quickly as physically present students. And further: one student is not the other. "For example, we see administrative courses going very well online, students like that. While facilities management students ask for an instructor in front of the class," said a participant.

Involve students? Yes of course!

Finally, we talked about whether you should involve students in campus design. This already happens a lot and everyone agreed that it is important. However, it is then important to do expectation management: if you ask students for their opinions, what can you implement and not?

Not set in concrete

So there are all sorts of aspects to think about when designing the campus of the future, quite apart from the concrete layout. And that is only a good thing, because as has been said: the campus of the future is not cast in concrete, but you adapt it to the requirements and wishes of the people who work on it.

4. Generative AI: using the panic to improve blended education

Jochem ten Böhmer and Jorn Bunk, education advisers at HAN, welcome the panic that has surrounded the rise of generative AI, especially ChatGPT, over the past year. Jorn: "That panic keeps education on its toes. And forces us to look at the design and content of our (blended) education."

Read more about generative AI in blended education

Not just another tool

This session focuses on how to deploy generative AI in blended education. The important thing is not to just use it as yet another tool, but to look at how to use it in an educationally responsible way. At HAN, they do this in a number of steps.

1. Conversations to reach common ground: what is AI?

At HAN, too, the initial reactions were mixed among teachers: from fear, to panic, to enhousiasm about the new possibilities that generative AI will bring. So they started conversations about: what is generative AI, and what is it not? In order to establish a common ground on the subject. Jorn: "When we talk about AI, it should be about the developments we see, not what we think it is, or what we think about it."

2. Tools for getting started with AI

Next came concrete tools for applying generative AI. Think workshops, blogs, documentation and knowledge clips. In addition, HAN recently launched an AI sandbox: a controlled online environment in which teachers can experiment with all kinds of AI tools.

3. Towards educationally sound application: no sacred cows

Jochem: "And now we are at the point: how do we take blended education a step further? How do we look at it educationally? Where do we use it and where not? And in this respect, sacred cows are taboo: you have to be prepared to change your teaching (think about testing, for example), and teachers have to figure that out for themselves. That takes time, but we keep talking about that."

5. Increase data literacy with a serious game

Hogeschool Utrecht wants lecturers to start using analyses of relevant study data when making education-related decisions. But not all lecturers are equally data-literate. Some easily find their way through the vast amount of data available, others suffer from numeracy fears. To help teachers increase their data literacy, Justian Knobbout, study data expert at HU, has developed a serious game. We play that game in this session!

Read more about the serious game on data literacy

Student complaints

We play the data manager of Midland University, who has to give a reasoned response to a complaint from students: they are not satisfied with the new study method eXtreme Learning. Among other things, they claim that study results have deteriorated for all students, and want an extra resit of an exam.

Torrent of data

As players, we are literally bombarded with a torrent of information: data sheets with study results, satisfaction figures, dropout figures, but also scientific articles on the learning effect of eXtreme Learning.

Working feverishly

We are given 20 minutes, so feverishly we set to work. Energetic and enthusiastic, we work on an opinion that we can take to the students. We study graphs and tables, tick off important parts, discuss whether the data are good enough to serve as ammunition.

Don't get even, but engage in conversation

When the bell has rung, we discuss our experiences. What do we learn from this?

  • Our tendency was to look for ammunition in the data to retaliate against students. But don't use data to punish students or prove yourself right. Engage with them to find out what exactly is going on.
  • We find that we have to be very critical of the data at our disposal. For instance, the axes of tables do not all turn out the same, the authors of a scientific article on eXtreme Learning are also the developers of the method, and you may wonder whether a result is significant if only 7 people filled in the questionnaire.
  • One should also be careful when drawing conclusions. The data showed that complaining students were relatively often absent. So then you can say: you guys scored badly because you weren't there. But why weren't they present? In other words, there is a correlation but is there a causal relationship between absence and poor results?

By playing the game, they experienced first-hand what it is like to make data-based decisions. And got useful tips on how to deal with data.