Today we're joined by Jeroen Mulder, i-coach at Nova College in the Netherlands and all-around edtech entrepreneur, specialising in training other teachers in the use of educational technologies, especially Microsoft Teams.
Welcome to the Learning Experience Lab, where we're connecting with the front-runners in education technology, and showcasing the stories of today's instructional design heroes. I'm your host, Dan Hasan, and in episode 7 today, I had the chance to speak to Jeroen Mulder, i-coach at Nova College here in the Netherlands in teaching and learning. Jeroen was also a guest speaker at a recent Microsoft Webinar to talk about how he'd been using the new Microsoft Teams and FeedbackFruits integration in his school. And he has his own Youtube channel, putting out instructional videos about how to use these sorts of online education tools, which you can find a link to in the description. With such a wide repertoire of experience in teaching and instructional design and a clear enthusiasm for edtech, I was excited to hear more about how Jeroen grew into this position. And that's exactly what I asked first, so let's launch into the discussion!
[Jeroen] I always loved to teach people. So at an early age, I sell for water polo player and I started teaching or trading our pupils? Sort of, and I really liked it. So So I went, actually, why don't I make my professional fit. So I go to the aloe, we call it in Dutch, the academic for? Yeah, like the harmonica pudding for PEi teacher. So that's where, where, where I went. So that's a nice study. And always all also interested in technology. So I was also trying to combine those two passions of mine to create, yeah, make my job even better and funnier to do. Later, I started my math education. So I also became a math teacher. And now I'm especially working for Nova relations. So as an i-coach, we call it and help our teachers to embed more technology in their lesson so they're getting more results from their lessons.
[Dan] Okay, what made you want to go from physical education to maths, which in my mind is a world apart?
[Jeroen] Always Yes, certainly world apart. But I didn't change, I added to my schedule. So I was importing, like, for example, teaching physical education. And in the afternoon, I was teaching math and all the way around. So it's also a benefit. So I can teach math in my short band. So colleagues cards. So
[Dan] Is there an overlap between the two domains and how you went about teaching them? Anything at all?
[Jeroen] No, not very much. Yeah, maybe if you were talking about the physics of something, the physics of math, a physics native method of physics. When physics are involved, it's more ...
[Dan] And then your teaching approach itself? Did you learn lessons from having taught PE physical education that you could then use in your maths teaching?
[Jeroen] Yeah. Work in multiple groups in Britain, in our physical education set, okay, you opened football over there, you do another sport. And here I will help you learn something new for gymnastics, so I have to get you and I have to be there. And that's also what I try to use at my math classes. So you go there, and you work on what you already know. And you're there, you're there and to differentiate. In a theoretical class, this is also something I've learned while studying for physical education. That's where the point to suffer now we have to differentiate because our classes are divided into our cognitive abilities and not our physical ability. So that's a wide range of what the students can do, or their physical development.
[Dan] And now you're coaching and yeah helping teachers to do things in the most removed from physical environments in purely digital settings. So what was the transition for you? When you started to become this i-coach at Nova College? When did that happen? And what made you want to take that transformation?
[Jeroen] I always want to make the education better. And, and as a teacher, I only can do that much for them. And if I teach the teachers, I have a wider range, I can help the teachers. That's also why I started this YouTube channel to help our teachers make education better, because if the education gets better, the students provided yeah. They also have better education.
[Dan] Yeah, so this YouTube channel, it seems like almost every day, or at least very frequently are uploading tips for Microsoft Teams looking at new features updates. Is Microsoft Teams your favorite teaching platform?
[Jeroen] My favorite yeah, I use it a lot. I don't know if I call it my favorite. Because AP for now is also well, my favorite because I can embed lots of tools for the students. So they have to go to that website to get to all the other tools, they're using MDF, they only have to go to one place to use all those tools. So they don't have to get don't get lost. And you don't have to discuss it with your students. If you did do that yet they couldn't find it. Now you can find it because this all in Microsoft Teams. And that is what I love about it. Yeah, indeed.
[Dan] What do you find? is made easier through this everything in one interface?
[Jeroen] That is Yeah. easier. Yes, it's got the just the everything is in one place. That's that's what made it easier. And the more single sign on for the students because I don't have to remember all the passwords because I teach math, I use the concept of flipping the classroom and use a puzzle and then use that to but they all had different in locks and passwords for all those. Yeah, but didn't know my password, or I don't know what my username is, can you help me and they don't have it. They didn't make their help work. So yeah, that's a problem. But now or single sign on and don't have only to remember one password. So I can know, you have to remember that one password. What's wrong?
[Dan] And do you think it is desirable that all of learning can happen in one place in one program? Or do you see a need for other programs, other things to be used? Is there ever a limit to just how integrated things can be? Do you think? Can things be too integrated?
[Jeroen] Yeah, I think that that's a good point. When not to integrate it so you don't get to learn other tools and how to use them. And more tray your computer thinking fun? How does that work? Or how do I learn a new tool? It's very handy to have it all in one place. But if you don't learn how to use for Google or other things, yeah, you're you're you're limiting yourself as a person to use but because the web is such huge, and so many things to use, and you have to train yourself to use them all and think about how to use them.
[Dan] Yeah, so my last guest made reference to new technology coming out. And teachers should always try to look at these new tech tools, look at new innovations, and keep applying these novel techniques and approaches. Because as you said, it's important to keep learning new tools to see what's out there. And it also keeps you sharp for your digital skills. But are there tools or approaches which you think will stand the test of time and keep being used well into the future?
[Jeroen] Well, that's a good question. Yeah, there. Yeah. I think a PowerPoint or WordArt. And they already have to stand the test of time because we're using them so long because there are for example for PowerPoint or their art or program salsa. Bracey, what's what looks very nice but everyone always goes back to PowerPoints making a PowerPoint then. So I think those two will miss this test of time. And I don't think always you have to when you when you're seeing your tool, you think, Oh, that looks very nice and good. Maybe not right? dive into inputs, really think about how the Yeah, what does it do for your teaching? And how can I use it and not only use it because it looks good, or it's useful, but really think about how can I make my teaching, make this better for the students? And sometimes is this because it looks better? on some tools? don'ts? Yeah. Yeah. Look, look at that. So so for how to make a good, how to look good. And sometimes it's pleasing for your eyes. And it's better to also look good.
[Dan] Yeah it's an important factor as well. Yeah, you mentioned that PowerPoints has been all through my academic life, and probably for quite some time to come the standard tool which almost everyone needs to know how to use in order to make a good presentation. Do you ever see other formats maybe replacing that like nowadays, we're becoming more involved and intimate with video production, voice recordings, just ever see, like a tipping point where that will become the mainstream will become so comfortable with recording ourselves voices, videos, that it might replace PowerPoint.
[Jeroen] I hope so because I love to record something in sync also for my students, because I for all my teaching, especially for my math, math don't really change how we do it. So I have made the instruction videos for all my students, so they can use them all the time. I don't think I have to. I hope it will take that tipping point that teachers are not yet afraid or find it difficult to make an instruction video for themselves. Because Yeah, we mentioned the PowerPoint. It's already in there. These days one click, you can record your PowerPoint, you only have to have a mic to use it. But I also see see much teachers and I don't know if they're it's their ego, maybe. But they want to be self in the picture. And I don't and I always say why do you want that? Why do you want it. Your goal is to, to to bring information to the students. So you have to focus on the information you're bringing, and not on you. So why do you want yourself in the picture? Why?
[Dan] I was going to ask actually, do you have any tips for lecturers who are just starting to record videos about their lectures or presentations? And indeed, it's an interesting question, whether or not you include the talking head. And I agree with you actually, if you're taking the focus away from the other material on the screen. Now there is the argument of your giving your presence and your parts and ability into the course. But as you say, you've got to balance that against. Is it distracting?
[Jeroen] Yeah, and if your goal is more making more in relationship with your audience, then it's an addition and good to do it. But if your goal is only to teach something, and to instruct something, I don't think it's a good addition. Because if you sent too much information to us, maybe if the text picture or or a video and yourself, you've sent too much information to the receiver. And yeah, did they get a cognitive overload so they don't get any information? If so that's, that's something really good to think about. And the standard tips are. Don't, don't too much. Don't text on your PowerPoints? Because Yeah, and don't read your PowerPoints because it's already there. Yeah, I can read. Yeah, that's bullet points. simple words. Maybe. Least preferred a picture and talk about it. Hmm, that's a classic.
[Dan] Indeed. Yeah.
[Jeroen] And still, it's this old, an old tip and still so many teachers are making those mistakes and they think Oh, come on, guys. Don't do so much text in a PowerPoint.
[Dan] How long have you been making instructional videos?
[Jeroen] Oh, this may be one year now.
[Dan] Okay for one year, and what have you learned? What's been your biggest takeaways in all that time? What are you doing differently now compared to when you started.
[Jeroen] I've learned audio is a big computer, you better have better audio than a better picture because audio is more intimate to receive, especially if you're wearing a headset. That's why podcasts are so good. You're in someone's ears. And, and I think sometimes, podcasts can get out more, but make a marine intimates and more spark your imagination than only a video a video will fill in your imagination how it looks, it's almost the same difference between a book you've read to simpler for each year, you have to read the book. And, and in the movie, if you've seen the movie, and you're going to read the book, you're already filling in how those characters are looking. And if you only read that book, your own imagination takes off. And if you make a podcast, so your imagination takes over and you're applying what you're told in your own situation. And if I only show it to you, but you're already I find some people. Yeah, but I can't do that, that's not my situation don't look like that. So they write it off. Because I can't and which podcast more. This was something that I've learned that's Yeah, if you want to more inspire and work, taking someone's imagination podcast is a better tool for that.
[Dan] Especially with what you mentioned previously about not overloading slides, thinking about how you're delivering that information. I started wondering about the different sorts of learning and teaching that can go on in one of these lectures, presentations, videos, podcasts. And if you're telling a story about a graphic on the screen, about a few words, and using that to base a, shall we say educational experience where the audience are not just remembering facts, but sort of applying a story, analyzing a situation. I do wonder about the different sorts of learning? Like what leads some teachers to put much more information and many more words on the screen? Are some domains or subjects? Do they lend themselves more to being? Yeah, textually described or having a bit more fluff? And then on the other side? Where is the need for inspiring? What stage in the learning trajectory? Do you need to inspire and tell stories? And at what point do you need to sit down with heart information? And how can you do both effectively in a presentation do you think?
[Jeroen] I think in a bit in the beginning of a presentation, you more have to inspire because I always have the discussion, especially with math. Why do I need to learn this? I always go hours, make a bet with them. If you can't tell me a job, you don't need that. You get $100 from me, or euros doesn't matter. And always when making plans and schedule something, what you have to do, in my opinion, in every job is math. So if I don't know if I always try to reach to share it for another, but back to my points. We have, I think always first inspire. So why do I need this information need this heart information? And if you inspire them, to me about I want to know this information, because I need it. So I understand I can use it better. And if you start with the heart information, you think yes. Nice to know. But why do I need to notice? So I think the first to tell the Why is so important for students, because we're all getting a critical alert, because over the information we're consuming, especially with all the fake news, it's a good thing. We're getting critical, and also about our teachers. Why are you? Why do I need this information?
[Dan] Indeed, yeah. You started teaching online before COVID.
[Jeroen] Now, yeah, because I've applied flipping a classroom. So I have all my teachings, online all so that the instructions there you have to watch it before my classes and so so to switch To go with and align was very easy for me because nothing has changed. Except for that day day have two data come through the physical class, but to an online class and ask for help. And that's the only difference for me because of that. And how, yeah, the setup of of my class, especially is the same.
[Dan] Okay, the setup of the class is the same. And are you noticing differences in student attitude in their engagement, motivation? How do you manage that?
[Jeroen] Engagement is to try more. Normally, in a physical class, if I ask a question, say, who knows the answers somewhere will put their finger or their hands so for you, I know that, you guessed the Mediterranean suffer. Now. Why did you go? And now if you ask it's it's silence, you almost see those hayesville are ringing. Crickets are cracking. Now, so I've to ask them very by name. Frank, do you know the answer of this? or so I have to activate them more? Especially to them.
[Dan] Okay, and apart from mentioning students by name, have you found other ways of effectively activating students in these kinds of situations in class?
[Jeroen] Yeah, making every you would go back to impress station, make them more interactive. So make them a part of the presentation and not only passively consume them, but you have to actively answer questions or other things. Or maybe, if the classes are taking too long in Energizer before a good example is to get something in your home, but you don't have lying right next to you. So go get your toothbrush. We're versus here, wage, surprise. Oak, some relaxing parts. And also I'm trying also just even, especially for maybe now reserving some time in my class, only to talk to them. Just just talking about today, how they're doing, because that's the interaction you normally have. And most teachers miss because you're in, you're out, and you don't see each other anymore. So that's what I'm trying to do with them. So make more connections with students?
[Dan] And do you think these increased efforts for your connection collaboration community, that they're going to persist in teaching styles, even after we hopefully go back to face to face?
[Jeroen] I hope so, I hope that the lessons we have learned. When in lockdown, we take back to the classroom and apply them and also that more teachers, hopefully, take advantage of a sequence teaching. Because it's so much better for the students and they are more motivated. If they're, if more more say in when they consume their knowledge. And they feel much better about it. I see. My students suffer all but I watch it when I'm embarrassed and I already get it. But because I'm not a morning person and we have it's 9am we're explaining this, but it's so much better for them.
[Dan] I think something I've seen quite often as well. The benefit of COVID is that it's opened up this chance for asynchronous, I have heard from instructors that the student presentations at the end of the week where you know, every student is encouraged to ask questions, come up with any comments, type them in the chat, unmute, please give us your questions. If you instead give students a week to have watched that presentation asynchronously. And when they come to class, having stood on it for a week, then the questions come, sometimes we hear that every student in the class has asked a question as posed. And obviously teachers want to see that interaction by giving students more of a chance for those questions to form. Yeah.
[Jeroen] Yeah. I also, if you ask me some questions, I'd have to think about it. Especially large decisions, so I don't gonna answer All right now. I want to sit and take some arguments and maybe talk to someone about it. So it also means just talking about it, making conversation or explaining to others where you're working on is so much better in education. Because when you teach you're also already learning stuff. Because if you can explain why we use algebra, I don't have to advise you about that. But they also teach themselves and learn why they need it, or how they have to do something like that.
[Dan] That was interesting.
[Jeroen] No, it was open in my physical education. You go explain that, that that game, because maybe I work in F explained in three separate courts. And it won't work. One, I play a game or two, I play game in court, the free to play game See, but I have explained the first games, first round of games all to those separate groups. But when we change, I also make one student responsible, you're gonna explain the game to the next group, and so forth. So they have two more thoughts about how they're going to explain how the game works and work to end surface and surface. And to make a good point about how the game works.
[Dan] You call this the sidekick, right? The student who yeah helps you out with the lesson. And it explains to their fellow students?
[Jeroen] In sidekick. Yeah,
[Dan] There's a couple other topics I wanted to talk about. One of them is how to scale these learning benefits that you've come across for your students up to faculty, because you train teachers as well, in these tools, you do that informally through your YouTube channel, and also formally at the college, right?
[Dan] So are there ways? Are there similar ways? Are there overlaps between how you teach students and how you train the teachers to be able to use these tools? Do you make them see the importance of why they need to do this? Do you bring them together in a community? For instance?
[Jeroen] Yeah, yeah, we're in college, we're working, we're now making a community of people. So because they're all different teams, and different courses, they have a separate theme. So they don't speak a lot with each other. But we are trying to make a community so they talk more about with each other out, how they are doing and what their problems are day. And we're also trying to make inspirational videos for guests. So they get inspired and contact us. So we can help them and they see the importance of it. And especially, we want to inspire them with stories from other teachers, they're already doing this. So they see Oh, but it's not not not something you tell me to do. And you don't know where you're talking about. But it's coming from the teachers. And if I want to do that, also, I can contact you. So I can grow about it. And then we go into trading, and when we train the teachers, we will want them to experience how it is and also how it is for the students because your ditcher audience so you have to know how it comes? Doesn't come over on your students. Because we're now with hybrid teaching, where one group is at home and one group is online. Not many teachers know how it is, how to do it, and how it is for the students. How to experience those because there are two different groups. How do you use them?
[Dan] And in terms of increasing adoption, for these teachers using tools, what kind of resistance, what kind of roadblocks do you run into? What kind of arguments against. Do you encounter because I'm sure that not everyone is jumping on to the thing with pseudo enthusiasm.
[Jeroen] Now, not everyone, but my favorite argument is we have done it all this time. So if this works, we aren't going to change. I think that if this works this good, but maybe we can improve it. And if this is the way it, it's the best. I don't you don't have hear me, but can we look at it? Maybe. And that's the, and I think it's being especially afraid of new things. Because I was at my previous job. We were implementing Microsoft Teams. I said, Yeah, but implementing such a thing is gonna take four years. And that that's quick when I say that, because, yeah, teachers know, I'm not going to do it, because I don't need it. But if thanks to the pandemic, teachers have learned, it's not that scary to use a new tool and, and try it out. I always also tell the teachers when you try a new tool, or a new app, in the class, also, already have your old lesson. Ready, because if it goes wrong, you can easily switch back to your old method. And you don't have to stress about it. And that's what tearful teachers are worried about. Yeah, but if it goes wrong, what do I need to do? And I'm not that tech savy. And you are. And it's always easy when you do it. No, but experience, try it, and try it with an easy class and tell the students, we're going to try something new. Because if you don't say that to your students, that and it goes wrong to say, oh, you're you're so bad teacher. But if you say we're going to try something new, I've, I've researched something and I've tried it and it works. And I want to test with you how it works. There, the students are especially. Okay, now we're going to help you and they're, they're more open to the experience. And also when it goes wrong to naamyaa. We tried it.
[Dan] Yeah, I like that approach instead of enforcing something new on them. Without signaling it. You're letting them participate in this new learning experience environment. So they're not feeling forced, but rather a part of it, I think. Yeah, certainly, when I started using Microsoft Teams, for my lessons, I was scared, I didn't like it. There were so many features in places I could click, I was overwhelmed. And as soon as I started getting familiar with this, by having people show me how to do it, by having a few screencasts sharing screen calls, then all that fear washed away. It's like jumping over a hurdle and being able to sprint forth without any of this fear or anxiety about getting things wrong.
[Jeroen] Yeah, that it's just just, I think, the biggest fear of most people. And I think that I think it's ironic, because we're teaching our students to always train to learn new stuff. And why don't we as teachers want to learn new stuff? Why do we think when we're done with our own trading to become a teacher, we're not learning? No, we have to learn also and to grow as persons and as teachers because the world we're where we are. Training or teaching the students to go into is also developing and now with all these new deck things, it's developed at a high pace, so we have to catch up and don't think and not think, okay, now I'm going to use Facebook for my lessons. Yeah, but Facebook has debt already. Oh, okay. They have to stay with the hurt of the Yeah, yeah,
[Dan] And just because you mentioned Facebook, have you ever thought about using social media as a tool in your lessons or in teaching at all?
[Jeroen] Yeah, I forgot about it. But I want what I have used something like Flipgrid to make the students their own videos and explainer videos, but I really want them to, they have to, it has to be an environment that feels safe about this. If it's public, they don't feel safe about it, and it's not going to work for him. And also don't want the students to comment on each other endlessly because it's so easy to burn something or someone else to the ground when the name is not attached to it. So I think you have to own your feedback. You're talking about work when you're giving feedback, you have to think about okay, but my name is I have to think about how The other person is going to interpret my feedback, because I think social media, and especially social teaching, students learn so much from each other. Why don't use it? So I've also had, how have you learned to, to say, okay, you if a chapter in a test is five paragraphs, okay? I mean, divide the class in five groups, you're all gonna teach paragraph one, you're gonna teach back of truth. As for So, and when they're disappearing, date going to teach, and you're so much more related and can get better samples out how to use it in specially daily life. Because they talk more in the same language. And to get, I'm getting too old for the students to relate with him. So why don't I'm told I'm pretty free. So used to relate to each other easier, because yeah, you're a teacher. It's another dynamic to teach from each other.
[Dan] Excellent. Yeah. Okay, I wanted to move on to one more thing, which was about the recent Microsoft Teams and FeedbackFruits webinar, which you attended. Now, why did you want to come and speak at that session?
[Jeroen] For the experience, I liked, I think, why not? It's fun, just right. And also, yeah, to do my story and tell the world about how I use some tools. And I think if I share my knowledge, our teachers will also grow and use that knowledge if my fair only sits on my knowledge here. It's good for me, but why that elevates the rest of the world, which is knowledge.
[Dan] Yeah, FeedbackFruits, we all were very excited when we first stumbled upon your YouTube videos showing the feedback fruits and Microsoft Teams integration.
[Jeroen] Yeah, that's also what I left because it's all integrated, and I can use all those tools easily in teams. And, and especially with my classroom to interactive videos and audio and, and also thoughts within a webinar, I get it, but I can use the peer feedback also for physical stuff. So if you say to the exercise if you film this and the rest is gonna give your feedback about it to do so it's not only for, for decks and something but also for all the other things where you want feedback on so that's Yeah, I just find it great.
[Dan] Excellent. And other other tools within Microsoft Teams that you really love to use that become a fundamental part of your teaching?
[Jeroen] That's a good one. Yeah, I still love to work with PowerPoint and embed a form story. So it's interactive so that started to us, but I really like to use some different tools sometimes here and there. So spiced the class up.
[Dan] Okay, I see I missed one question I wanted to ask you from earlier when we were talking about your YouTube channel. Or maybe I forgot. But where do you want to see the channel go in the future? Where's your one year or five year goal?
[Jeroen] Oh, I think it's so difficult. My one year goal for this year was 1000 subscription.
[Dan] And you have doubled that right?
[Jeroen] Yeah, that's it, that's Yeah, but when I saw this, I went where I wanted to go Yeah, even larger maybe Okay, in English. When at the time and for it's so yeah, I want to grow and nuts for my own ego. But just to get that knowledge out of me and share with the world and then interact with other teachers, because we can so much learn from each other. Oh, you do? You use this too, that way. And that. So are there some things odd? That's not that something that I'm not really thinking about using this way? And I don't have an example right now.
[Dan] Well, in terms of examples, has there been any notable inspiration to you when it came to wanting to share this knowledge, wanting to use this YouTube channel for that purpose without other channels or maybe instructors in your peer group who really made you want to go down this route?
[Jeroen] Not not specially I can think of it, it was earlier my frustration there wasn't that much to see and to do and to find. And I'm so I'm dyslexic so yeah, there's so much to read about. But I'd like to read. It's, so why aren't there videos about it? And can I see what you're doing? That's more of my inspiration to just go do this, I want to show you how you can do this. So you can use it.
[Dan] And as far as I can see, you do an excellent job at summarizing this information in Teams. And lastly, I would be very happy to see you making more of these sorts of videos also in English in the future. Honestly, I wish you the best of luck with it. I'm really interested to see just where this route will end up, as, of course, the need for digital education and some training and hybrid lessons. The need isn't drying up. It's becoming more and more. So let's see a lot of growth here.
[Jeroen] Cool things.
[Dan] Yeah. And thank you for your time.
[Jeroen] No thank you for your time.
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Dan is an (almost) graduate of science communication and education who lives for learning. For a year he has been investigating course design case studies around the world and is now trying his hand at this new format of gathering and sharing insights and ideas.
Jeroen Mulder is a former maths and PE teacher who now works at Nova College in the Netherlands, training other instructors in the use of digital educational technologies. Aside from this, he also runs a platform ‘Modern Onderwijs’ which provides instructional resources and advice about modernising education.