Learning by doing


The LDE traineeship consists of three periods, each comprising eight months. Two years all together; you do the math. After eight months of working at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, I started my second period (September 2014 – April 2015) at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Whilst still working for the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa, I have now shifted focus from research and communication towards education and project management.


At the moment, I support the development of web lectures on frugal innovation for a MOOC on Responsible Innovation. So-called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) represent an emerging trend globally in the field of higher education. MOOCs are online courses at no cost that are mainly – but not exclusively – offered by universities.

Tip of the iceberg

Why would universities offer free education? One of the reasons is that universities might gain benefits from interacting with students (who can come up with brilliant ideas during the course). Universities can use test results obtained through MOOCs as a pre-selection for high-potential students. For instance, the most promising students can be invited by the university to subscribe for funding and to become enrolled in modules covering their topic of interest. Another benefit might be marketing the – paid – university’s education programmes. MOOCs hence are a tip of the iceberg, to some extent comparable with the Dutch concept ‘proefstuderen’ where students can participate in the programme of their choice for one day to gain more insight and assess whether they like it.

Demand for higher education

In addition, MOOCs help meet the fast-growing worldwide demand for higher education. If a student is eager to learn but doesn’t have the financial resources needed to pay tuition fee, then MOOCs might be an outcome. Also, students will be able to find courses and modules of their choosing. It’ll provide opportunities to ‘shop’ at the best universities worldwide for courses of their interest.


From my own experience with developing the MOOC, I learned that for lecturers the preparation and recording is quite time-consuming indeed. For them it was the first time that for educational ends they posed in front of a camera. We started a few months ago with the MOOC preparation and when I told them to write a script and to make a visually attractive powerpoint, one of the lecturers mused that ‘we can just go to the studio and give our presentation’. Oh, reality! After having struggled through trial-and-error for some months, we have now recorded the web lectures. The said lecturer is convinced of a timely preparation of presentation scripts and powerpoint slides.

For our MOOC we have already received 4,500 enrolments. This figure is impossible to reach via ordinary communication means, let me tell you that. I am confident the time and effort invested in recording the web lectures will come back with dividend.

By the way, the MOOC starts at the end of coming November. So if you are eager to learn about responsible and frugal innovations: Register here.


One response to “Learning by doing

  1. Pingback: Kort nieuws | LDE magazine·

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