Fontys is increasingly focusing on hybrid learning environments. The Brainport Region has also recognised the importance of this type of innovative learning environment as a crucial context for strengthening the region's competitive position. In the Regiodeal, Fontys and Brainport have committed to three hybrid learning environments, including Strijp TQ. Here, Fontys University of Applied Sciences ICT (FHICT) has now realised 4 Open ICT Labs (OILs), originating from the educational concept based on High Impact Learning that Lasts (HILL).
The main question of the multi-year research started as:
What impact does the knowledge environment realised by FHICT at Strijp TQ have on the student success and learning outcomes of students and lecturers, the knowledge creation and knowledge transfer with the business community and the recognised identity of Fontys in the region as a knowledge institution, and under which financial and organisational conditions are the objectives realised?
By means of in-depth interviews with key figures such as the director of FHICT, board members of SPARC, educationalists, professors, project and team leaders, the intended situation at the start of the study was mapped out. Due to evolving insight, some sub-questions were adjusted during the study to provide a better picture, partly in response to the period during the pandemic when on-site teaching could not take place. This is discussed in more detail in the notes to the different lines of enquiry.
In the interviews with key figures, we explored ambitions regarding the InnovationLab, gauged what had already been realised and what developments were planned. Below are the main insights.
With the InnovationLab, FHICT aims to create a context in which students, lecturers, researchers and partners in the field can work in co-creation on real practical issues. Within this context, education, research and the professional field can mutually reinforce and complement each other to create an optimal/powerful learning environment in which everyone is learning.
The InnovationLab is the intended place to encourage chance encounters, cross-pollination and talent development. It would like to enter into a sustainable relationship with the work field partners, truly working together to enable innovative solutions in co-creation. It wants to be a place where leading developments come about through practice-based research. Based on an open-source attitude, it wants to share the knowledge created, both within the InnovationLab and beyond.
The teaching concept aims to prepare students as well as possible for professional practice. The aim is that authentic cooperation with the professional field will contribute to a better connection with the labour market. Conversely, companies get a better picture of the current generation of students and can thus better meet the needs of starting professionals as employers.
Finally, the InnovationLab aspires to contribute to the image of Fontys as a knowledge institution in the region.
Starting point realisation
At the start of the study, FHICT had moved in and the first projects with partners had started. In early 2022, over 15 Partners in Innovation started their membership at SPARC, making the cooperation a reality. The first two editions of the ICT in Practice symposium had taken place. Innovations Insight and TQ talks also provided meetings and knowledge transfer. The Shared Learning Team concept was ready for launch in the autumn. Students learnt to compile portfolios and project documentation, lecturers learnt to relate to a new form of teaching in the OILs and got more interaction with lectors. Some 30 to 40 externs from other colleges, among others, were hosted and an experiment with Open Badges was carried out.
Development and focus areas
Regarding Partners in Innovation, there was a desire to grow strongly in size and thus recruit new partners. A platform for SPARC members was under development, as was support for lecturers in the transition to Research Based Learning. Efforts were being made to organise Meet & Match meetings with partners and lecturers and other connecting events. The need for an overarching project management system was felt and explored.
Some areas of focus were defined. Encouraging spontaneous encounters, establishing guidelines for space use, promoting the image of knowledge institution and structure for transferring projects.
A detailed report of this baseline measurement, including the first occupancy and utilisation measurement, can be found on this page.