Community-driven education PXL-Digital
PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Community-driven education (PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts, PXL-Digital department) using the iSpace incubator: rather than building bridges between the world of education and the business world, the day-to-day practices of the business community and of the knowledge centres are being integrated into the programme. The programme structure revolves around collectively creating education for and by the community of junior colleagues, colleagues, businesses, and researchers. The programme offers a rich and challenging learning environment via realistic projects, fed from contextual queries from the professional field and from society. The projects are problem-driven, enrich previous learning experience, and offer the possibility of applying knowledge and skills in an authentic context.
Community-driven education within the PXL Authentic Teaching Model
PXL University College has opted for an educational concept revolving around authenticity, innovation, and co-creation. In order to map out and further develop the Authentic Teaching approach within its programmes, the university college has developed the PXL Authentic Teaching Model. The community-driven educational model within the Information Technology cluster of programmes is a pre-eminent example of how the PXL Authentic Teaching Model is being substantiated. Within community-driven education, the daily practices of the business community and the research centres are integrated into the programme. The collective creation of education for and by the community of junior co-workers (students), co-workers, companies, and researchers is the linchpin within the operation of the cluster of programmes.
PXL University College has opted for an educational concept revolving around authenticity, innovation, and co-creation. To support the design process, it has developed its own PXL model in which several elements play a distinct role: authentic context, authentic learning tasks, professional processes, reflection, and articulation of the thought process. This means that every component of the programme must feature a certain degree of authenticity, taking account of the above elements.
Figure 1: PXL Authentic Teaching Model
The model comprises five core elements:
- The continuous coordination of conceptualisation and contextualisation (horizontal axis);
- On the one hand, the university college as a place of learning and on the other, the professional field as a place of learning and working (dark grey range vs green range);
- Critical reflection throughout all the authentic teaching and learning activities (blue line);
- Five clusters of authentic teaching and learning activities (clusters A, B, C, D, and E):
- Developing discipline-based building blocks;
- Exploring the professional field;
- Project-based working;
- Participating in actual practice;
- Practice-oriented research;
- Clusters C, D, and E account for at least one-third of the activities.
The community-driven educational model within the Information Technology cluster of programmes is a pre-eminent example of how the PXL Authentic Teaching Model is being substantiated. This model focuses on integrating the daily practices of the business community and the research centres. The collective creation of education for and by the community of junior co-workers (students), co-workers, companies, and researchers is the linchpin within the operation of the cluster of programmes.
The Applied Computer Science professional bachelor’s programme and the System and Network Management first degree programme of the Information Technology cluster have used the model to authenticate their curricula. Figure 2 provides insight into the division of authentic learning activities across the various components. The model affords the programmes the opportunity to render authentic teaching quantifiable, comparable, and open to discussion.
Figure 2: Overview of Authentic Teaching clusters implemented in the Information Technology cluster of programmes
Within the Applied Computer Science professional bachelor’s programme, the model is implemented via programme components (clusters A and B) and via authentic projects (clusters C, D, and E). Cluster A equips the students with specific building blocks (knowledge elements and basic skills) of the Information Technology discipline. Theory is given meaning by establishing links with reality through, e.g., Pluralsight courses, guest lecturers, and authentic assignments that tie in with the students’ social environment (developing MasterMind games, setting up a databank for a cinema et cetera). In cluster B, the students explore the professional field. In seminars, workshops, and innovation routes they observe IT professionals and/or workplace processes. They sample new/modern technologies (chatbots, clean code, test automation, social engineering et cetera) that are subsequently explored, analysed, and ultimately linked to theoretical concepts. Furthermore, with effect from the 2020-2021 academic year, the programme has embarked on designing and teaching a full programme component in collaboration with the professional field. Taking the attainment targets as their point of departure, business professionals develop authentic curriculum content of the eBusiness programme component in collaboration with lecturers and equip students with the essential building blocks in a co-teaching process. In the lessons, they continuously establish links with the actual professional practice.
The third-year IT Project programme component is situated within the clusters C, D, and E; it is a pre-eminent example of authentic teaching. Within the IT Project, junior co-workers collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams (cluster C) on a project basis, working on an authentic assignment for a client/principal in a realistic professional context (cluster D). The result is a final product/prototype providing an innovative solution to a complex, actual practical problem (cluster E). For example, students have developed an omni channel shop prototype, in co-creation with the Elision company, aimed at helping customers find the product they are looking for in a shop while reducing the boundary between their physical and digital experience:
PXL iSpace is creating a realistic professional context at Corda Campus, the IT site of the Dutch province of Limburg, the Euregio Dutch-German collaborative network, and the Belgian community of Flanders. iSpace spans more than 1000 m² and features such facilities as an open project hall, a classroom, and innovation labs. It offers students a place to experiment and collaborate in an authentic framework, 7/7 and 24/24. Furthermore, iSpace is being enhanced with additional project halls embedded within companies based at Corda Campus.
Within the System and Network Management first degree programme, the Authentic Teaching Model is being implemented via flanking programme components (clusters A and B) and work-based learning (clusters B, C, D, and E). It goes without saying that the programme has also embraced community-driven education. The learning process in work-based learning features a four-phase structure, as reflected in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Structure of work-based learning, System and Network Management first degree programme
In the Work-based Learning 1 phase, students are offered learning activities that enable them to get to know themselves and become acquainted with the professional field (cluster B, exploring the professional field). The emphasis is on becoming acquainted with the profession of system and network manager and on exploring technological evolutions within the domain. During guest lectures and company visits, hands-on experts explain their jobs and introduce students to present-day technologies. In addition, several workshops are organised to have students gain insight into their personal and professional identity and talents. In the Work-based Learning 2 phase, work-based learning is simulated via an authentic project (cluster C, project-based working). The project brief is formulated in consultation with the professional field. The professional field partners regularly provide interim feedback and assess the final product in collaboration with the learning coaches. The realistic professional context is once more created by iSpace at Corda Campus. The simulation projects ensure that students are sufficiently prepared before transferring to actual work situations in the Work-based Learning 3 and 4 phases (cluster D, participation in actual practice).
Throughout the curriculum:
- Students are learning at and across the boundaries of school context and workplace. This expands their learning potential;
- Students are encouraged to adopt a project-based approach to finding solutions to practical problems;
- Students are practicing integrated professional skills, professional expertise, and professional mindsets in a realistic professional context;
- Students are learning to devise, field-test, and implement new methodologies and products that will result in the desired innovations;
- Preserve a strong link with the professional practice;
- An up-to-date curriculum that ties in with the evolutions in the professional practice;
The professional field
- Influence on the study programme and the formation of excellent professionals;
- Graduates ready to start work immediately upon graduation;
- Opportunity to present themselves more distinctly to students (war for talent).
Challenges & opportunities
- Continued investment in the collective interests of co-creation;
- Coordinating and continuing to focus on the collective goal;
- Transparency in the collaboration in terms of expectations and responsibilities;
- Continued commitment to attracting good partners;
- Expanding collaboration with organisations/companies that are not active in the IT domain.
Professional Bachelor of Applied Computer Science
First Degree in System and Network Management
Corda Campus, Kempische Steenweg 293, Hasselt (Belgium)
PXL University College, Elfde-liniestraat 24, Hasselt (Belgium)
Tristan Fransen, Tristan.Fransen@pxl.be
Tine Aelter, Tine.Aelter@pxl.be
In both the first and the second semester, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences organises a Challenge Week. For one week, students collaborate on a topical, actual, and meaningful issue. Assignments (submitted by external employers) are aimed at rendering students aware of the role played by the media in societal issues. This encourages students to apply prior knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst providing the principal with useful insights to be developed further.
Media and Entertainment Business Challenge Weeks
We are setting aside one week per semester to have a partner challenge us and our students to look for new insights regarding a particular issue. Quantity is more important than quality: we are using the plethora of ideas and insights contributed by large groups of people (120-180) without passing a value judgement.
PARTNERS: THOMAS MORE, Infrabel, Streamz, Sanoma, Kom op tegen Kanker, DPG Media, Telenet, Studio 100
In both the first and the second semester, we are interrupting the regular lessons after six weeks in the purview of a Challenge Week. During this week, all attention will be focused on a real case commissioned by an external principal. The students study the target group and work in a result-oriented manner on the goals defined by the principal. Here, the process is more important than the product.
We are looking for assignments that are socially relevant and render students aware of the role played by the media in societal issues. In this respect it is important for the issues to be topical, concrete, authentic, and meaningful.
In addition to the assignment, the students are provided with supporting information and methods delivered on a just-in-time basis. The students also apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes acquired previously, in an integrated manner. All this must take place within a timeframe of 1 work week, which inevitably has the students working against the clock.
The selection of a relevant context and issue gives students an incentive and inspires them. This is enhanced by additional presentations and an efficient use of space and place.
The win-win outcome is that the principal is genuinely interested in the opinions of the 18-24-year-olds and harbours a genuine expectation of what can be delivered within such a limited timeframe. The week is rounded off with a jury session in which both the principal and the students select the top 3 entries, which are awarded a nice prize.
The ideas are collected and submitted to the principal. Not uncommonly, the principals will build on the ideas within their own companies.
- Quickly delving into new issues and learning to work under pressure of time;
- Stepping out of their comfort zone;
- Collaboration between teachers and a team of students;
- Networking with businesses;
- Being and remaining alert;
- Connection with Partners in Education;
- Submitting relevant research to students and teachers, enabling them to take account of the latest insights;
- Firm connection with partners;
- Learning from one another;
- Focus on what is going on;
The professional field
- Being and remaining alert;
- Getting to know the programme and the dynamics of collective learning;
- We set great store by substantiating our programmes in co-creation with the professional field. That is why we have structural collaboration agreements in place with several media and entertainment companies such as DPG Media, Roularta, and Telenet as “Partner in Education”.
Challenges & opportunities
- Expanding good partner network;
- It takes power of persuasion to have companies work with first-year students;
- Emphasising to the principal that students operate as a shadow cabinet; importance of proper expectation management;
- Selection of a case that can be handled within a single week;
- Very strict timing;
- Teacher competencies: project management, coordinating project set-up / good briefing, providing students with proper inspiration;
- Guiding rather than judging; the public and the principal decide.
Media & Entertainment Business
Pascale Aerts, Programme Manager, email@example.com
LUCA SCHOOL OF ARTS
Multicam involves a unique partnership between several competitive organisations in the audio-visual sector and the Narafi Film programme (LUCA School of Arts). The collaboration is focused on acquiring the up to date, audio-visual-technological competencies that the sector needs, and which the programme cannot provide on its own on account of the huge costs of high-tech infrastructure.
LUCA School of Arts
Multi-camera (LUCA): using co-creation as an efficient basis for designing professional education in a challenging technological industry
PARTNERS: LUCA SCHOOL OF ARTS, Videohouse, NEP Belgium, Fly Away, DB Video, Play, VRT, Stage Track, Riedel
In concert with companies active in the audio-visual sector, the programme is producing students who command the proper high-tech audio-visual competencies for embarking on a career in this sector immediately upon graduation. The companies can recruit new staff who are all set to start work, and the programme can teach the students to work with the technological infrastructure provided by its partners, which it could otherwise never afford. The programme can take advantage of the up-to-date expertise of the sector, thus producing graduates who fully meet the rapidly evolving requirements of the professional field. Students easily find employment in the sector.
Position of Multi-cam in the TV-Film-Video programme
In addition to the option of going on an exchange under the Erasmus programme in the first semester of the third year, the film programme at the Narafi Campus is offering four tracks within the PRACTICAL WORK 3 - Workshops & Assignments. Students may enrol in one track of their choice.
1. Fiction – elective track
2. Multi-cam – elective track
3. Non-fiction – elective track
4. Erasmus exchange
Several developments taking place over a time span of a few years have resulted in the momentum to roll out the 3Film Multi-cam elective track:
Since the INRACI film programme’s relocation to the RTBF premises in 2017, the TV studio on Jupiterlaan has been taken over by the Narafi Campus film programme. As the full costs for the studio would henceforth been borne by LUCA, the management has urged for optimising the use of the TV studio.
Feedback meetings with the professional field made it quite clear that the knowledge and skills of the new graduates who ended up in the sector were no longer in keeping with the requirements of the sector. According to the professional field, the relevant companies still needed to invest substantial sums in the training of their new employees. This has prompted the conclusion that our graduates were no longer ready for work immediately upon graduation. As a result, we have decided to adapt the curriculum.
Subsequently, during the summer of 2018, the outdated image and audio direction rooms were fully renovated.
Concurrently, during informal meetings, students enquired about elective tracks in order to be able to specialise.
Consultations during the academic year 2018-2019 revealed the need for expanding the audio training programme to include 1BA Film, whilst the teaching staff requested that the Multi-cam programme be expanded to include 1BA Film and 3BA Film, thus spreading the learning pathways over the three years.
The final KOPERA report (KOPERA is the method we use to monitor the quality of our programmes) lists a large number of suggestions to improve the programme and to introduce elective tracks. New trends must be sustainably and systematically embedded in the curriculum.
In addition, the curriculum reform launched by the Education Council encouraged the elaboration of elective tracks, research, cross-over and inter-disciplinary work.
Within the programme components of the domain-specific unit, room is provided for elective tracks in which students pursue a specialisation from their own practical perspective.
The organisation of the teaching-learning environment is aimed at student-centred study tracks. This enables students to take more responsibility and allows them more liberty in the choices they make in their study track (for the master’s programme, this was initiated in January 2018).
In the second semester of that same academic year, 2018-2019, all this resulted in a framework for the multi-cam track, in collaboration with and at the explicit request of the professional field.
Until then, the co-creation partnerships involved a number of technical service companies from the multi camera sector (Videohouse, NEP, Fly Away, dB Video, and Play), VRT broadcasting company, and Riedel intercom manufacturer. New partner companies are continually being prospected.
The collaboration involves a form of co-creation in which the track is substantiated by the professional field and the programme as partners and in close consultation. In multiple respects, this is a win-win situation for both the partners and the programme.
The multi-cam track is focusing intensively on the latest high-tech developments within the multi-cam professional field. In addition, it devotes ample attention to the acquisition of the 21st century competencies that are expected by the professional field.
On the one hand, the programme is providing several workshops and training courses of its own accord. These take place in its own TV studio and address such topics as network systems and streaming.
On the other hand, the partners are responsible for several programmes that are characteristic of the respective partner’s identity, focused on such topics as shading, set-up, and installation of multi-camera set-ups on site.
Furthermore, the programme includes broadcasting, in which the students – supervised by teachers and staff (head of technology department) – prepare and record an event.
This track, finally, offers room for accommodating several work placement hours.
- Materials and workflow, technical service companies
- Putting up and dismantling broadcasting set-ups on site
- Fibre technology, applications and use
- Practical network applications within a multi-cam environment
- LSM operator, image mixer, camera operator, video assistant
Events (these are proposed to the students on condition of availability, planning, financial implications, copyrights, and feasibility; the students select one):
- MUSIC BROADCASTING: concerts by the Music programme at the LUCA Lemmens Campus and livestream concerts in collaboration with V.Z.W. Artists Unlimited;
- SPORTS BROADCASTING: live broadcasting of the Flemish Topsport Finals in Leuven and streaming on social media;
- TV SHOW: depending on the collaboration, we will record an existing TV format in a professional TV studio, for example, De Slimste Mens Ter Wereld [The Brightest Mind in the World], in collaboration with Videohouse and Woestijnvis;
- FICTION: several scenes from an existing fiction series will be recorded in a multi-cam environment, supervised by an experienced fiction director (collaboration with VRT)
- IBC Convention: the students visit the IBC Convention and come in contact with the latest high-tech developments.
In a permanent evaluation process, the supervising teachers assess the students with respect to attitude, technique, and creativity during the workshops, training sessions, and events/assignments. The first exam period comprises a personal evaluation session. The partners from the professional field are involved in the assessment of the final project. They score the students’ final projects.
- The students experience the track as an added value;
- The programme is taught in a high-tech professional environment;
- In the broad-based programme, the track accommodates the specialisation option requested by students;
- It helps students find trainee posts with the partners;
- It enhances the opportunity for students to find a job with one of the partners;
- During their studies, students actively build up a professional network;
- Incoming Erasmus students are more easily accommodated in the elective tracks;
- Outgoing students have a well-defined framework from which to depart;
- Teaching staff can exchange expertise and insights in the collaboration with colleagues from the professional field;
- Staff development and expansion of professional knowledge beyond teachers’ own experience;
- Keeping abreast of the latest technological developments;
- The programme is taught in a high-tech professional environment;
- The programme’s own infrastructure is cost-effective;
- The programme is able to introduce its students to the latest developments;
- Optimum use of the TV studio;
- Costs are shared;
- The track ties in with the university college’s policy direction;
- The tracks follow the attainment targets and the 21st century competencies to be acquired;
- The track results in the development of a reporting procedure;
- The programme can accommodate a higher number of transferring students;
The professional field
- The Multi-cam programme meets the requirements of the professional field and is open to rapid adaptation;
- The ties with the professional field are strengthened;
- Participating companies can scout out the proper profiles faster;
- Newcomers can set to work in the professional field more quickly; less need for investing in specific in-company training.
- The unique nature of this track enhances the charisma of the university college.
Challenges & opportunities
Mutually acknowledging that the partner commands certain competencies that you lack. You need one another, you complement one another in order to achieve your common goal.
The programme lacks certain very recent technological expertise because developments in the professional field and in the technological domain advance at a rapid pace. The price tag is too steep, yet the programme is anxious to harness said expertise, not only by having students collaborate but also by having experts from the professional field transfer expertise to the students in an educationally effective manner.
- How can we create an adequate educational framework to allow experts from the professional field without any teaching experience to share their expertise nonetheless? What are viable models with which the professional field would be comfortable?
- What is a good partnership format for the professional field to kick off the collaboration? Would it be better to start off without any form of agreement, on the basis of trust, and then to evolve to an effective agreement?
- How can we motivate partners to observe the agreements made? What constructions will work for them?
- How can we commit partners to a co-creation project, even if more recent commercial assignments could overrule the agreements made? How does a programme secure airtight commitment from the partner companies?
- Whilst programmes require an annual schedule (or they need to work with modules and short-term workshops), such scheduling is difficult to set down with partners in the field, in light of their own – oftentimes unpredictable and changing – planning.
- What is a graceful way to end a collaboration that is not living up to your expectations (i.e., leading to frustrations), but which you hope to take up again one day?
Each party has its own interests that converge in the project (common goal): companies want well-trained students whom they can put to work virtually immediately; the programme can utilise the companies’ high-tech infrastructure which is far beyond its budget and can train students in an authentic, high-tech environment with support from experts in the field.
It is not a matter of course to create trust between competing partners in the professional field, whom you are gathering together to achieve a common goal in collaboration with the programme: well-trained students and thus staff who can rapidly start work.
- What does the professional field need to be able to collaborate with competitors and a programme on the basis of trust?
Open communication and transparency
Clear agreements on each party’s input in terms of content, technology, facilities.
With a view to creating trust: setting down with what each party can go public, or how each party can use the “products” of the collaboration.
General current challenge:
- How can we have partners visit our campus or students work in the partner companies under Covid-safe conditions?
Professional Bachelor of Audio-visual Technology: Film, TV, and Video
Narafi Campus, Brussels-Vorst
Gert Keyaerts, Gert.firstname.lastname@example.org
ANTWERP MARITIME ACADEMY
Antwerp Maritime Academy has perpetuated the amalgamation of various specialisms (cf. complementarity between a nautical perspective, engineering research, data processing, and chemical analysis) in a collaboration agreement on corrosion research (Socorro). Each partner is to supply several results, and the partners are collectively pursuing a common goal: elaborating a feasible solution to corrosion prevention and control. The collaborating parties regard an understanding and continuous interpretation of the common goal as a permanent given. Acknowledgement of each partner’s discipline and unremitting engagement foster a positive perspective and are pivotal in the solid completion of the project. Finally, the project has demonstrated the utmost importance of setting down agreements with parties from the professional field on the level of detail to which research results are publicised.
Hogere Zeevaartschool Antwerpen
Seeking out corrosion (SOCORRO): a multidisciplinary balancing act to save the world a few billion euros? (AMA)
SOCORRO is a research and development project initiated under the Interreg 2 Seas Programme. It revolves around corrosion and corrosion management. The project is being carried out by a consortium of 15 partners and subcontractors from four different countries.
PARTNERS: HOGERE zeevaartschool, Ghent University, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Southend Borough Council, Sirris, IT and Business Analytics, University of Brighton, Genicap, University of Kent, Cobalt Water EU BVBA, Université d'Artois, Université de Lille, OCAS, Université Polytechnique de Haute France, INRAE
An often-underestimated threat to our economy is steel corrosion, in any kind of industry where water meets steel: the maritime sector, water purification plants, offshore (renewable) energy production, et cetera. For example, 90% of ship failures can be attributed to corrosion (Melchers 1999). Approximately 5 tons of steel per second are lost through corrosion. The additional costs incurred due to corrosion have a substantial impact on the global economy: the IMPACT study (NACE 2016) sets total annual corrosion costs at more than 500 billion EUR for the European Union alone, i.e., generally +/- 3.8% of the European GDP. An economic opportunity report, produced by the European NeSSIE project, shows that on average 18% of the technical operational expenditure (OPEX) of offshore energy systems is related to corrosion. With a projected fixed wind capacity for the EU of 23.3 GW by 2020, this will generate potential savings of 805 million euros by 2020, if all corrosion-related costs are mitigated by fixed wind. The specific result to aim for is a reduction of corrosion related OPEX from 18% to 17% through more efficient corrosion management, which will mean 44 million euros saved (i.e., three times as much by 2030).
However, the way that the industry handles corrosion prevention management is far from ideal. Solutions are generic, and there is no overall awareness of possible cost reductions. Also, any monitoring currently in place measures the effects of corrosion and not the risks: for example, in the shipping industry, sensors are merely used to determine the decrease in ship plate thickness as a consequence of corrosion (DNV-GL 2016) rather than to prevent actual corrosion. Any useful system to combat the corrosion problem should therefore extend beyond the installation of basic sensory equipment. According to Morshed (2015), a corrosion report should not only provide information on the corrosion rate but also on the chemical environment and on the findings during cleaning and repair, as well as a risk analysis. In other words - any sensor system that is being installed should therefore be complemented by a comprehensive, quick and easy management system to measure the local situation in a range of installations, linked to a risk assessment, based on the physicochemical conditions in which the steel resides (Ghalsasi et al. 2016). This risk assessment should also be linked to a lifecycle cost analysis, lead to a better management of the health of industrial installations and infrastructure (Shiegg and Steiner 2010; Wymore et al. 2015) and raise a general awareness that costs can be reduced even further.
The Interreg 2 Seas project SOCORRO (2020-2022) aims to address this gap in data collection in order to improve corrosion management practices. To this end, we have created a simple, rapid, in situ sensor system able to monitor a range of environmental markers over time to determine the risk of corrosion of steel submerged in water, as well as a statistical algorithm to mine these data for an overall corrosion risk estimate – in short, the SOCORRO system. Through a series of industrial demonstrations in a variety of real-world settings (industrial process water, ship ballast tanks, ports, offshore energy platforms, coastal defence), the project will test and validate this algorithm and model the risk of corrosion in these installations. SOCORRO then aims to provide companies with an independent means to assess the corrosion risks in their installations, to increase their awareness and to encourage them to take appropriate preventive actions.
The team consists of a mix of metallurgic scientists, data analysts, process and wastewater management engineers, specialists from the maritime and offshore sectors, managers of installations at risk of corrosion, and experts from research institutes and the business community. The collaboration of a diverse group of experts from different backgrounds and commanding a range of expertise is essential to achieve the project objectives.
PROJECT WEBSITE SOCORRO
Students who participate in the project (as part of their master’s dissertation research) will experience the international as well as the industrial dimensions of their research. They will also perceive the relevance of their work;
Teaching staff can underscore the relevance of their course materials because collaboration in this project will offer them the chance to foresee relevant, state-of-the-art examples in their materials;
Every research project offers opportunities for the expansion of knowledge and professional networks, for the creation of new ideas and new questions, and of course, at the end of the project, for conference and journal publications (le plaisir de se voir imprimé). In addition, a co-creative project offers the possibility to expand one’s horizons beyond one’s core expertise;
The professional field
Co-creation is not only useful for HEI researchers but also for the relevant industrial sectors if they have been involved in the project from its conception. HEI may deliver a novel point of view. In the SOCORRO project, we study corrosion, which is a multi-billion euros problem with an enormous impact on the economy (3.8% of general GDP, 19% of the added value of the maritime sector). Corrosion management methodologies contribute towards saving money for these sectors. However, we have noticed that many businesses have failed to take up that information, let alone incorporate it into their management procedures. Moreover, HEI/research institutes have more opportunities to invest in the management of explorative innovative projects. Co-creation with these institutes therefore also provides clear added value for the professional field.
Challenges & opportunities
For the Antwerp Maritime Academy, co-creation in research is seen as a way of thinking across the entire chain about themes that each party would otherwise approach purely from its own specialization. In research projects, the Antwerp Maritime Academy is often the only maritime HE institution. In this project, there is clear complementarity with classical engineering research at Ghent University and KU Leuven University; other partners are engaged in data processing or chemical analyses, while the AMA provides input into practical components. The challenge is to keep investing in finding a common language, to make sure that every partner understands what the others need to function. This demands a mindset that is often frowned upon in hyper-specialized environments (such as in research institutes) - being able to have a “helicopter view”.
Research programmes (such as Interreg) provide a formalized process by which the commitment of each partner is described in a partnership agreement and in the project proposal that has been granted. However, signing these agreements is only the last step of a long process in which every partner receives a part of the budget in return for delivering a set of deliverables (data sets, experimental prototypes, publications, …). Once the whole process has been passed, partners that are still “in the game” are very likely to commit to that common goal.
Pursuing a common goal
In research projects, defining a common goal is a minimum condition for the creation of a feasible project proposal. In a longer-term perspective, researchers appreciate successful projects which have the prospect of follow-up opportunities, pursuing new synergies. Within the Socorro project, consultation took place quite often to determine the proper content and the exact wording of the final text of the project, but, even more importantly, to make sure that everyone understood the common goal.
The challenge remains to stay focused on that common goal during the further development of the project - especially in a pandemic situation where face-to-face communication and visits between the partners are only marginally possible.
Research projects rarely offer time and space to start off with a partnership plan that has been fully detailed. Within the Socorro project, as with many research projects, those involved should have the feeling and the idea that there is a match, an intuitive fit. In this respect, research projects are not that different from other relationships and friendships. The challenge remains to create a good project consortium, which is often a mix of trusted partners with whom a long-term relation has been established, and new collaborators in order to expand the expertise within the partnership.
Open communication and transparency
Open communication allows information to be shared and the partner relationship to work. For SOCORRO, there is a common (Teams) platform for sharing methodologies, literature, and data, and for asking questions. Team meetings are held in which all the partners participate. However, to achieve inter-organizational trust, communication calls for more than simply sharing information; it also requires active listening - listening with the explicit objective to understand what the other party wishes to express.
Moreover, programmes such as Interreg, Tetra or Efro demand a demonstration that the results are being disseminated across all the relevant sector(s). This complicates matters, because (1) some companies do not wish to communicate sensitive information outside the partnership, and (2) the project partnership needs to find the proper ways to reach the sector(s). Finding a balance between the need for public dissemination and protecting the interests of the individual partners is an ongoing challenge.
Interreg 2 Seas
North Sea area
Geert Potters, email@example.com
Maritime Competence and Carreer Center
ANTWERP MARITIME ACADEMY
Within the MC3 Partnership, Antwerp Maritime Academy (AMA), the Belgian Navy, the Public Employment Service of Flanders (VDAB), and the Agency for Maritime Services and the Coast (MDK) are pooling maritime professional programmes in Flanders. In the future, the MC3 Partnership intends to become “the single point of contact” for government authorities, businesses, and individual seafarers alike, addressing all their questions on study programmes, further training, and their overall careers.
Hogere Zeevaartschool Antwerpen
MC3 Partnership - Maritime Competence and Career Centre: “Co-creation to find answers to every maritime training question possible”
MC3 is a collaboration agreement between the Antwerp Maritime Academy (AMA), the Belgian Navy, the Public Employment Service of Flanders (VDAB), and the Agency for Maritime Services and the Coast (MDK), aimed at pooling maritime professional training programmes.
PARTNERS: HOGERE zeevaartschool, Navy, VDAB, MDK
The organisation of maritime professional training programmes calls for major investments in the fields of infrastructure, simulators, and quality assurance. Furthermore, such programmes are extremely comprehensive: in addition to teaching nautical and technical skills, they also need to address a highly diverse range of, e.g., firefighting training, medical schooling, survival techniques, et cetera.
In order to offer all this on behalf of the Belgian government, as an institution recognised at the international level (Europe and worldwide), all these programmes are closely audited, checked, and monitored by several agencies.
Requirements have been set with respect to the competencies to be acquired, demonstrable quality assurance, certification, conditions for enrolment, teacher qualifications, lesson content, and course duration. Other requirements pertain to the infrastructure, such as recognised simulators.
The advantage is that most of these requirements are imposed at the international level under the STCW Convention; they have been translated into European guidelines and national legislation. This means that all of the partners must meet approximately the same requirements.
Pooling the maritime professional training programmes among these four partners enables us to split infrastructure investments, to exchange expertise, to set up a single large pool of qualified staff, to share the many different audits, and to provide students with a univocal Belgian answer to their many questions.
If we want to gain some real profit in terms of efficiency, we need to accommodate the four partners within a single legal entity. Thus, for example, a single audit would suffice, rather than each of the four partners undergoing a separate audit. Investments can be coordinated, teachers can be seconded, et cetera.
In concrete terms, we have initially coordinated the range of programmes offered by the four partners. This enables student exchanges. Most students follow a modular track, which means that they can now switch from one partner to the next.
Course durations and curricula have been equalised and validated by the Belgian government.
Prior to the roll-out of MC3, naval staff received military training rather than attending an STCW regulated programme. Consequently, they were not certified in accordance with the STCW standards. Following a career of many years on board naval ships, they did not have any option of finding a job at a similar rank or position on board a merchant ship. Conversely, the lack of a distinct correlation between the two tracks precluded any lateral entry.
The MC3 concept now makes all this possible. The first cohort of naval MC3 students has already graduated and been certified.
In the future, MC3 intends to become “the single point of contact” for government authorities, businesses, and private seafarers alike, addressing all their questions on study programmes, further training, and their overall careers.
The co-creational aspect of this collaboration agreement mainly involves substantive underpinning, in addition to the establishment of the legal entity.
- being able to find a univocal range of programmes;
- correlation between the various partners enables transfers;
- optimum use of several locations in Belgium;
- wellcoordinated planning (more efficient spread of programmes over the year);
- a univocal range of programmes;
- division of labour in terms of setting up courses;
- options for exchange, learning from one another, peer review;
- pool very expensive programmes;
- pursue optimum class sizes;
- coordinate planning with a view to efficiently spreading the various modules. This enables the academy to accommodate the flexible needs of seafaring students.
We can make choices with respect to investments in new simulators, in terms of both type and manufacturer, based on the collective range of programmes offered. The scale-up gives us a measure of leverage on the manufacturers’ price fixing.
The professional field
For the professional field, the added value is reflected in clarity regarding the range of training programmes in Belgium, location spreading, flexible and mutually coordinated planning, and above all: a single point of contact.
Challenges & opportunities
On the basis of a framework stipulating “ingredients for successful partnerships (cf. Table 3 in “Retrospective case study - project report”, S. Weemaes & J. Bruneel, 2017, Retrospective Case Study by POM West-Vlaanderen - Issuu), we can formulate a series of challenges (questions) for MC3.
- Partners perceive mutual dependence (knowledge/funds). MC3 partners VDAB, AMA, MDK, Navy each have their own expertise. Acknowledging the complementarity of the partners is important.
- Acknowledging that together the partners can achieve more than on their own. What continues to be important for MC3: continuing to identify the complementarity of partners and making the most of their expertise, whilst respecting each partner’s unique nature, accepting the partners for what they are, and enabling them to utilise their own expertise. A vision document defining who will be doing what, and where each emphasis will be will clarify how we can complement and enhance one another.
How can this (the mutual dependence, the need for collaboration) be reflected in every section of the various organisations?
- Commitment among all the parties, considering ways to anticipate opportunities. Commitment to the MC3 partnership tends to be highly diverse in terms of time, duration, and nature. Initially, we attempted to work without monetary exchanges, drawing up a balance based on teacher hours or student hours. In the next stage, we intend to roll out a fully-fledged accounting system with a corresponding financial plan; this requires a separate legal entity.
- Collectively considering how we can continue to anticipate new opportunities. In their quest for opportunities, the MC3 partners are gradually developing the reflex to provide ideas in the purview of other partners: how can they contribute, how do they fit in? Experiencing benefits will gradually encourage the partners to “give” in the partnership.
How can the commitment of the various partners be gauged?
How do we proceed from ad hoc solutions to structural collective projects?
Can commitment be enforced?
- Pursuing a common general goal, showing vision. In the co-creative MC3 partnership, a common goal is by far the most important element!
- A common goal is essential to preserve the partnership. For MC3, the common goal, the vision, serves as the basis for convincing staff and having every section of the partner organisations embrace the collaboration. This will enable us to roll out the collaboration in various substantive domains, such as planning, curriculum content, and quality assurance. Furthermore, we can collectively determine what our next steps will be and set down a pertinent sequence.
- Trust among partners. Within MC3, the partners are jointly developing their vision with a view to: couching the vision in a sustainable structure, setting down a recognised partnership, and proceeding from that perspective.
- The need to continue to pursue trust among parties. An essential factor in continuing to pursue trust among MC3 partners is the sustainable structure, continually reminding the parties of the written and signed partnership, in order to ensure continued support. A partnership that is not, does not remain or will not be tied to specific individuals will have a longer shelf life.
How can this trust be preserved?
What steps need to be taken to this end? (converting trust among individuals into trust among various organisations)
How can financial trust be established as well?
Open communication and transparency
- Open communication and transparent actions allow information to be shared and the partner relationship to bear fruit. Important instruments for co-creation between MC3 partners are open communication and transparency. These are essential to continue to feed the common goal and the collaboration, and especially to remove obstacles manifesting themselves on the partnership track. Any issue causing the slightest friction must also be tabled. We cannot demand anything from one of the other partners but continuing to express our own needs is essential in order to continue to perceive the “gains” of the collaboration.
HZS/AMA – Professional programmes
Bie Van Deun, firstname.lastname@example.org