From day one, everyone I spoke to was extremely enthusiastic.
Teachers can add their own sauce
"The best thing about the project, I think, is that there is such a huge need for it," says Marja Versantvoort, project manager, on making teaching materials for the Bachelor of Nursing available nationwide. "Teachers that I speak to immediately see the possibilities."
Teachers seem to have their own peculiarities. They take their profession very seriously and are under constant pressure. But if something comes their way that can save them a lot of work and time, they're not really open to it. Seeing is believing is usually their motto. Marja Versantvoort started the project two years ago with this in mind.
"Well, that's what I expected, for sure," says the enthusiastic project manager. "I was totally sold, but I know the profession only too well and I had expected quite a few critical questions. I'd even prepared myself for that. But that didn't happen. From day one, everyone I spoke to was extremely enthusiastic. People get it. When I explain what a platform for OERs is, you literally see the penny drop: I want that too, is what they're thinking."
Marja is not originally from the field of education and doesn't have a nursing background. She worked in the OR for seventeen years as a surgical assistant. She felt a great commitment to students and started working as a practical trainer. She became interested in developing and providing education. After completing her first degree in teaching, followed by a master's degree in didactics, she has since been teaching for eleven years now. She spends one day a week on the OER project.
Inventing the wheel
If the need is so great, isn't it odd that this has only recently become available for the entire education system? "Actually, that is pretty strange indeed," says Marja. "Especially if you consider how many hours you, as a teacher, spend putting together your own learning materials on the basis of compulsory national learning material. So it's kind of like reinventing the wheel. Yet many instructors feel that this is part of the teaching profession. They want to deal with the material in their own unique way. And that's only possible if they start working with the learning material themselves, they think."
“That was one of the reasons to develop a quality mark. A quality model. The learning materials you want to share must meet certain requirements in order to be awarded the quality mark. One of these requirements is that it must be possible for other teachers to adapt the material and make it their own. You have to see it as all kinds of little dishes, to which teachers can add their own sauce.”
“Some obstacles still remain, though. It really is a fact that teachers take their profession very seriously. And it can save them a lot of time if they can use materials, but sharing takes time. Because you have to adapt your teaching material so that it meets all the requirements. And if something takes time, teachers are very willing, but the student always comes first. So we keep thinking about ways to make sharing as easy as possible while still ensuring quality.”
Since 2017, Marja Versantvoort has led a project to make teaching materials available nationwide for the Bachelor of Nursing programme. Initially, it was a pilot project with five training courses. Meanwhile, the 15 providers of the Bachelor of Nursing programme in the Netherlands are participating. The project will continue to run until 2020, but it has already exceeded expectations. By 2025, all Dutch higher education institutions should be provided with a system for sharing and reusing teaching materials.