by Koen Timmers
MIE Expert, Belgium
For 14 years I’ve been teaching ICT (web design) at CVO Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. Since the beginning, I’ve been passionate about e-learning and decided to post all courseware and tutorials on my own website zelfstudie.be. Today, more than 18,000 members have access to nearly 9000 pages of courseware and external authors are publishing their own courseware to the public at large; it’s a digital educational library which is growing each day.
Using tools in my lessons offers new opportunities (distance learning), increases my students’ motivation, spices up my lessons, and allows more opportunities for collaboration. Sometimes it even offers unexpected outcomes like the moment I decided to use OneDrive to share my courseware and assignments, and students actually spontaneously started creating and sharing their own written tutorials. How cool is that?
Students don’t receive a handbook at the beginning of a course. During all lessons I add information to a Word Online document. At the end of the semester, students receive an up-to-date, digital manual of 120 pages (see one example after 9 lessons: http://1drv.ms/1xIZlSZ). Some of them Skype at the end of the day to ask for and share feedback. One of my courses can be attended voluntarily. Most of my students are attending this course for the sixth time, as I always construct new exercises. By all means, this gives me a lot of satisfaction.
I was very honored to be named an Expert Educator again for 2015 and very excited to have been invited to the Global Forum in Barcelona this past March. During the inspiring keynotes and workshops, I was inspired to find out how to develop my own app. I also decided to write a tutorial that explains how to create your own educational app. By offering an educational app and a tutorial, I wanted to show my gratitude by giving something back to the community. Hopefully other educators – or even better, students – will be moved to create educational apps, which would be a modest way to improve today’s education.
It was during one of Mr. Anthony Salcito’s (VP of Worldwide Education at Microsoft) inspiring presentations that I discovered this great web conferencing tool called Lync, which can be used to enable distance learning. After informing my school board, I wrote quick guides for colleagues and students to teach them how to schedule and attend a meeting, some references to literature, and some useful tips. I decided to make this manual available to other educators and posted a tutorial on my website, but also decided to make it available as an app. My local Microsoft manager, Koen Daems, offered me the appropriate name “EduLync.”
I’m very grateful to Microsoft for giving me the opportunity to become a better teacher by handing me lots of knowledge and the opportunity to connect with other educators from all over the world. Microsoft is offering me the opportunity to collaborate, construct my knowledge, communicate and use cutting-edge technologies like Lync.
Tomorrow I’m driving to the UK for graduation. For the past 2 years I’ve been taking an additional Masters course called “Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation and Change” at Sheffield-Hallam University to increase my knowledge about new approaches, doing research and collaboration in education. A few days ago, I got the message that I can call myself an MIEE for 2015, too, so the journey is still going on. Thank you, Microsoft!