Flying Start is a collaborative project between over 40 Schools or departments at the University of Leeds (UK) created in 2012. It consists of a website with student and staff videos, interactive activities as well as social media channels, where information to help new undergraduate students manage the challenging transition from school or college to university education is uploaded in stages. The aim of the resource is to help students gain a clear understanding of the importance of academic skills so they arrive at Leeds prepared for study.
MEDEA 2009 finalist
Studiecoach is a free online resource for study advice or digital coach and was created by the Dutch Open University which is specialised in higher education for adult students through supported distance learning. Studying in distance learning requires new and different study methods from the traditional classroom learning; in distance education there are fewer contact hours and there is more self-study which requires more self-discipline. Following the university's open public nature of providing resources, Studiecoach is freely available for students and non-OU students.
The showcase video of Studiecoach, including an interview with Marion Stevens
The Studiecoach website combines several media types and activities: video, tests, text, games, exercises, exam and training. The themes are: time management, anxiety, multiple choice examtraining, oral presentation, written presentation, mindmapping, meditation, finding scientific information on the Internet. All themes are visualised in the form of a mindmap and each topic is introduced by a short video and students can access further content and training programs or register directly at one of the training programs in the study center. In addition to Studiecoach, the Open University organises a series of workshops around these themes at different locations in the Netherlands, where students (and non-students) can meet each other and discuss the topics at hand.
What the judges said of Studiecoach:
“This online framework for delivering training induction and support activities for study skills of distance learning students is worked out in a well presented approach with well-chosen methods, good explanations and a good choice of media. It combines 'talking head' videos (menu accessed, addressing common questions), animated screenshots, and links to 'study effectiveness' quizzes.
Study skills is a common problem, and this excellent, appealing application which shows consistency and technical competency is fast and easily navigated. It offers a great deal of practical support and advice to its target audience. The creators have clearly recognised that students come from a range of situations, with their own skill set for getting the most out of themselves and the resources available to them during their studies. This entry successfully addresses a wide range of needs for a large and varied target audience, by the right media mix with materials including videos, tutorials, etc. It is the sort of resource that students can dip into and choose just what they need, just when they need it. ”
About the creation of Studiecoach
The Dutch Open University is characterized by its open nature as bachelor and master programs and individual courses are available to students without previous qualifications and Internet services are available to both students and external visitors.
Mrs. Marion Stevens MBA and Mrs. Lisette Meijrink, who submitted this entry, say the following: “Our rationale for setting up a “Virtual Studiecoach" is based on a belief that despite the fact that media-enhanced learning is increasingly commonplace throughout all learning sectors, there has not been an overall and general Start and Support Study Model. We want to help students on their way to a successful completion of their studies at the Open University and support services are necessary for the study process plus they can make learning faster and pleasant.
In 2008 we started to develop this website with digital coach Nicky Janssen. If students now face problems in their studies, we can offer them the Studiecoach. Our digital coach offers help through movies, tests and trainings and gives tools to plan the study, for example mindmapping, time-management, stress-management etc… thus improving the quality of the students’ learning and study experience.
Studiecoach provides a methodology and general tool kit for developing and delivering training, start- and support activities and study skills which can be supportive and useful for students and other people who are not studying at our university.”
The content of the Studiecoach website was developed by the Open University, in collaboration with educational technologists and other experts such as graphic designers and game designers and specialists from other educational institutions, for example the TU Eindhoven, Maastricht Business University and other partners. Students evaluations were continually part of the development of Studiecoach.
Since its launch in January 2009 the Studiecoach website has attracted more than 15,000 visitors.
About Lisette Meijrink and Marion Stevens
Lisette Meijrink presented the project during the dedicated MEDEA session in Berlin. She is Senior Communication Advisor at the Open University in the Netherlands. Within the Open University, there was no programme where students could get help with study plans and study problems. In 2007 the Open University started a project “the Studiecoach” and Lisette became project manager from this project. She offers with the help of different website-tools study-related tools; such as movies, tests and trainings, as well as tools to plan their study, for example mindmapping, time-management, stress-management etc. Her expertise is most importantly in the domain of education, where the needs of students are translated to technologies and eLearning (including game based learning), seeking for appropriate user friendly (multi)media in education, and finally in project management. Her expertise is also in creating visualization, actions, colour, graphics and design.
Lisette Meijrink graduated at the Vrije Leergangen Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, to become teacher Netherlands and Arts. Then she completed the HBO-course of Journalism at the LOI (Leidse Onderwijsinstellingen). In addition she has completed the course of study under the direction and supervision of the New York Training Institute for Neuro-Linguistic Programming at the level of Practitioner and Master.
Marion Stevens is the interviewee appearing in the MEDEA showcase video. She is Senior Manager at the Open University in the Netherlands. Marion’s department is responsible for the development of a start and support model around general services for students in distance education and life long learning programs. She is active in the field of general Educational Services and combines this with managing departments in the central Open University and the regional study centres.
Marion Stevens graduated at the Rijksuniversiteit in Utrecht with a master degree in Educational Science and she received her MBA degree in Business Administration from the Nijenrode University, and attended an Executive Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.
Lisette Meijrink and Marion Stevens (right) after receiving their prizes from Maruja Gutierrez-Diaz from the European Commission (left)
Lisette Meijrink and Marion Stevens, as representers of Studiecoach and the Open University of the Netherlands, received a MEDEA medal and prizes including a MicroTrack II mobile digital recorder (sponsored by AVID), and an Adobe Production Premium Creative Suite 4 Licence (sponsored by Adobe Systems).