Open ICT Lab

Fontys Information and Communication Technology

From traditional classroom to Open ICT Lab

Fontys University ICT chooses new learning environment. During the summer holiday, the Fontys University ICT locations (in both Eindhoven and Tilburg) have undergone a partial metamorphosis: traditional classrooms have been transformed into a large Open ICT Lab, or OIL. With the arrival of these OILs, a big step has been taken in being able to offer pioneering and innovative education. But what is OIL exactly? And why is so innovative? Time for an interview with Yvette Friebel, FHICT housing coordinator.

Please explain...what is OIL exactly?
An OIL is a learning environment that offers space to 150 students in Eindhoven and 120 students in Tilburg. Thus learning environment is intended for learning in an activity-based fashion, so not just learning via instruction by an instructor standing in front of the class. It is intended for group work, to have a meeting with your SLBer, guest lectures...and for chilling once in a while. So, a learning environment that houses an array of activities. Ranging from work stations to concentration areas, everything combined in one space. It is intended to be multi-functional.


Why have we chosen for OILs?
The students now sit in classrooms, but this is not ideal. There is a big need for areas where you can study quietly and for group work. In addition, the OIL corresponds more with the didactics we envision at FHICT: more of a demand driven learning process. With the arrival of OIL, we have brought a little intimacy back to our big institute. This will create more of a community feeling.

Could you describe what the average day of student is like in the OIL? And the average day of an instructor?
A student is in the OIL five days a week. In principle, all educational activities are held in the OIL (with the exception of specific lab activities and excursions, for example). Each student is free to sit wherever they want. Sometimes a student may prefer more quiet. They can then choose for one of the concentration areas. Sometimes a student will have to work with a project group. The OIL offers plenty of areas for this. In short: many available options all in one space. It will be a new challenge for the instructors. They will provide instruction to a group of six during one part of the day. They will provide instruction, carry out discussions or will be working in the OIL themselves. Because the OIL is also their work station. This way, we can better connect the students and instructors.

There is an OIL in Eindhoven and Tilburg, are they the same?
The OIL in Tilburg is different from the one in Eindhoven. The OIL in Eindhoven was really set up as a kind of experiment together with housing. Over the past 1.5 years, we have run through a procedure which has resulted in this concept. This all considering the new up-coming construction plans (September 2020 for Eindhoven and 2019 for Tilburg). This way, we can really figure out what works best and what doesn’t. This will enable us to design the new construction to meet the needs of both the students and the instructors. Approximately fifteen OILS will be built and none of them will be identical. The OIL in Eindhoven, for example, has a few more gadgets. In Tilburg, the OIL is more geared towards the growth of the institution and the shortage of classrooms. We have spoken to the instructors involved about what fits with the target group. Ultimately, in Tilburg, we decided on a few separate closed areas for group work and in Eindhoven for consultation rooms.

How can you make sure that you meet the needs of both the students and the instructors?
Things will not always run smoothly, but we are closely monitoring the situation. We will evaluate with students and instructors every week. This way, we will adapt the learning environment every six months and if necessary, in the interim as well. The OIL is a very flexible space which can be quickly and directly adapted if necessary. We will also monitor occupation and how the space is used.

Is anyone allowed to use the OIL?
The OIL will be linked to a certain semester or semesters. In semester 2 in Eindhoven, ICT & Software will use the OIL starting from 28 August 2017. This will later be augmented by a few specialisation minors. In semesters 2 and 3 in Tilburg, diverse profiles of students will use the OIL. In the subsequent semesters, this will switch to other profiles during the course of the school year.

When will you consider the OIL to be a success?
When students feel they have better facilities and they feel comfortable and everyone finds a way to learn that best suits them. Instructors will hopefully recognise that we can apply our didactics for teaching better this way.


Extra explanation:

As of 28 August 2017, we will also have a new temporary location with one of our Partners in Education in Eindhoven: ISAAC. This location offers enough space for 250 students. From Monday through Wednesday of semester 3 the ICT & Software students shall use this space and on Thursday and Friday, it will be available for the Cyber Security students (supplemented by minor ADS and Data Driven Business Lab students). This space is also designed based on the principles of OIL.


More information: read the article in the "Eindhovens Dagblad" here.