1 May 2018

Create your own course

Robin Wisse co-founded the Edu challenge

In the last period of this academic year, two courses created for the Edu Challenge started. During the Edu Challenge students get the opportunity to create and later teach their own course. Robin Wisse founded the Edu challenge together with Sven Rouschop. Robin just finished her Bachelor's in Philosophy in Utrecht and is active at Lijst VUUR in the University Council and local political party Student & Starter. 

How did you and Sven come up with the Edu Challenge?

I did an exchange semester at University of California Berkeley last year and that is when I realised there is a big difference in how universities relate to their students. At Berkeley, there is a competitive environment, which isn’t always great. However, I did get the feeling that students are taken far more seriously. They strongly believe students are the future. This attitude is a great motivator and provides students with confidence. My opnion is that Dutch universities can learn a lot from this attitude.

Berkeley offers a programme in which students can create their own course, called DeCal. DeCal classes, in a nutshell, are legitimate university classes run by students. That way, students get involved at content creating level of education. Utrecht University already tries to involve students – there’s the student councils and boards, for example  – but there’s still enough room for improvement, especially when it comes down to involving students in their own education. For my University Council application at VUUR, I had to come up with a plan for future improvements in education and that’s how Edu-challenge started.

Universities have to inspire students to find their passion

Why is it important to you that students can create their own course?

Utrecht University wants to create an environment where students are motivated to learn skills - it’s not only about gaining knowledge. In my experience, students in Utrecht are quite passive during lectures and workgroups. That is not entirely due to the students, it’s the current culture. One way to change this passive attitude as a university is making use of the knowledge and talents that students have. Enthusiastic and talented students don’t get many chances to use their innovativeness and creativity. Edu-Challenge tries to motivate students to actively put their skills into practice

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

In my opinion, entrepreneurship is an essential part of university. It is about gaining knowledge and skills, independent thinking and taking responsibility. These are competences that can be used throughout your entire life. Universities have to inspire students to find their passion. Being able to set up your own course or use innovative ideas for societal case studies can be a step in this direction.

Can students apply for the Edu Challenge?

They can! The Edu Challenge will run again next year. Together with a team, we pick out the best ideas that will be elaborated. The students with the best ideas get support of education experts to design teaching and testing methods. When the course is finished, students who are interested are more than welcome to sign up for the course during the after-registration period!