“Strictly speaking, my pupils don’t really need to come to class anymore…As a matter of fact, two of my pupils will be studying abroad (one pupil in Dublin and one in Berlin) without missing any of my course.” – Diederik Roelandts, Belgium
What do comic strips have to do with understanding more about cultural identity? For students in Diederik Roelandts’ class – along with nine other schools throughout Europe – it’s the perfect way to reinforce literacy.
Roelandts, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, led the project Strip to Identity, using comic books, comic book software, language, IT and other subjects to create a comic book collection compiled by pupils from many different countries all over Europe and Asia. Students and teachers at each of the 10 schools are using Office 365, Sharepoint and Lync, which allows them to access a shared platform and create a fully-documented website.
And while Roelandts has rolled out this project to multiple countries, all by using new technology, it wasn’t too long ago that he was also teaching with “analog” tools. “I started as a ‘teacher’ giving 50-minute lessons,” he says. “But the new technology turned me into a study manager, monitoring my pupils through the different assignments and enabling them to learn when and where they want.”
The ability to learn anytime, anywhere, has completely transformed Roelandts’ classroom, his teaching, and his students. “The formal old fashioned teacher is converted into a tutor,” he notes. “The effectiveness of this way of working is amazing. As a tutor I have by far more time to spend with the students who really need me. It gives me the opportunity to differentiate. I finally have time to attend to the needs of less strong pupils as well as give new challenges to the strongest pupils.”
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Diederik Roelandts!
What inspired you to become an educator?
My biggest example was my dad. He was not only a driven teacher but also a largely appreciated author of French study books. As a kid I knew from a very early age that teaching was going to be my profession.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
It is always nice when students are following the same path as one of their teachers. Some of my pupils decided to go and take a teaching training course in applied informatics. But then again we are only speaking about a few pupils…
On the other hand, I coordinate so many international projects at school and this gives me the opportunity to broaden my horizons. On many occasions our foreign partners were astonished by the level my pupils have achieved. This makes me incredibly proud, and this gives me the drive to push the limits even further.
The Miniemeninstitute is an official Microsoft Showcase school. We were given the opportunity to have our project fully reported by an official Microsoft film team.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
New way of learning, new way of teaching. When I first started as an IT teacher, we had one PC (Intel 286 with a 40 MB HD) for two pupils…no projection possibilities whatsoever! But we managed!
Consider the possibilities we have now…my lessons are all Lync-recorded and uploaded on SharePoint. All my pupils work on their level and at their speed. Strictly speaking, my pupils don’t really need to come to class anymore (only Flemish legislation is not adapted to this way of working…yet). As a matter of fact, two of my pupils will be studying abroad (one pupil in Dublin and one in Berlin) without missing any of my course.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
Communication: Teachers in Flanders tend to work on their own island, hardly speaking to colleagues, avoiding contact with companies.
The biggest challenge is to reinforce the collaboration between (secondary) schools and future employers. Next, it’s to establish a durable partnership between similar schools (both national and international) in order to promote didactical and pedagogical cross pollination and share examples of good practice.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
It is hard to predict where technology is going to lead us to in the future. Cardinal Lustiger once said, « De nos jours on change de siècle tous les dix ans »… (Nowadays we are changing a century every 10 years.)
About Diederik Roelandts
Teacher, International Project coordinator, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
- Blog URL: strip2id.eu
- Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
- Educational background: Bachelors degree in Commerce and IT
- Website I check every day:
- Favorite childhood memory: Our family holidays in France.
- Favorite book: Collected Works of Oscar Wilde
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: SharePoint and Office 365
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Never to give up and persevere.