16 May 2017

Boost for campus as breeding ground for educational innovation

Marjan Oudeman en Paul Nanninga achter het light board.
President of the Executive Board Marjan Oudeman and Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing at Ricoh Europe Paul Nanninga behind the light board. Photo by Kees Rutten.

Today, Utrecht University and Ricoh signed a letter of intent to intensify their collaboration in developing new educational technology.

Educational innovation is a key priority in Utrecht University’s Strategic Plan. Chair of the Executive Board, Marjan Oudeman, believes that collaborating with companies such as Ricoh brings great opportunities. Oudeman: ‘Technology is generating ever more possibilities for providing education in a more customised manner and for increasing interaction with students. Online and blended learning required a good digital learning environment. In the Utrecht Teaching and Learning Lab, lecturers can try out new facilities in practice. Collaboration with developers and suppliers of new products enables the effects of technology to be tested at an early stage of prototyping, allowing products to be adjusted and improved where necessary.’

Technology is generating ever more possibilities for providing education in a more customised manner and for increasing interaction with students.
President of the Executive Board

Excellent location

Ricoh is eager to make a contribution to this process. The IT company has over 109,000 employees, and offices in more than 100 countries. ‘In a world that’s constantly changing and where technological developments come thick and fast, investment in education is crucial for Ricoh’, says Paul Nanninga, Senior Vice-President Sales & Marketing of Ricoh Europe. ‘We aim to closely match our services to what the education sector needs: together with students, lecturers and researchers we seek new opportunities and strive to make the most of them. The campus in Utrecht is an excellent location for this. It is a highly interesting ecosystem which brings together all the ingredients needed for educational innovation.’

Education of the future

In recent years, Utrecht University has been making strong investments in educational innovation and ICT. The university-wide Educate-it programme is supporting lecturers in their work to adjust their teaching. Educate-it helps lecturers to innovate their teaching activities and to blend this with available IT tools.

Besides changing their didactic methods and making use of software, there is also a need to adapt the design of teaching spaces (Future Learning Spaces). To this achieve this, experimental rooms are being used at Utrecht University to conduct research into the effects of new facilities and forms of spatial setup.

New technology

Not only are various kinds of furniture being tested at the Utrecht Teaching and Learning Lab, but also advanced 3D printers, smartboards, tablet tables and lightboards. Special 360-degree cameras are being used to record research into use of space. The University is also contributing to the development of various kinds of product software, such as for digital test recording and serious games.


‘In order to carry out experiments like these and to find out whether technologies can make a contribution to education and research, it’s essential to have synergy between educational institutions and the business community’, says Oudeman. ‘So we are very pleased that the collaboration with Ricoh will be intensified.’