ROC Mondriaan brings Apple skills to Dutch schools

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The growing demand for Apple skills and knowledge has led Dutch secondary vocational education institute ROC Mondriaan to develop a course to train students in these highly sought-after skills.

ROC Mondriaan is the largest provider of vocational secondary education in the region of The Hague. The education provider offers around 240 secondary education courses at 26 schools in The Hague, Delft, Leiden and Naaldwijk. The ICT school has two locations: Delft and The Hague.

Several years ago, the ROC Mondriaan School of ICT started developing a new curriculum. To ensure that the skills taught to students are optimally matched to market needs, questions were asked of local and national ICT companies about what students were capable of after graduation and what skills graduate students lacked.

“It showed, among other things, that there was a need for people with knowledge of managing macOS and iOS, and programming apps in Swift, Apple’s programming language,” said Sebastiaan Bliemert, Director of the ROC Mondriaan ICT School.

Innovate in education

This request sparked a desire to include Apple knowledge in their teaching. Bliemert finds it important that students also acquire skills that are not yet widely taught in the Dutch education system, but are required in the market.

“All of our teaching is now Windows and Linux-based, but there’s a whole other world that we can’t serve with our current teaching materials,” he said.

“We deliberately call it a lab instead of a computer room, because an Apple Lab sounds a lot sexier”

Sebastiaan Bliemert, School of ICT, ROC Mondriaan

The director therefore decided to integrate Apple’s management and development skills into the current program. He did not focus his request to the council on equipment, but on innovative education, stating that “educational innovation is essential”.

Bliemert and his team created an Apple lab at the ICT school. “We deliberately call it a lab instead of a computer room, because an Apple Lab sounds a lot sexier,” Bliemert said.

The lab is intended for experimentation, so that students in software development courses can test their applications on different Apple devices, but it also offers students in computer systems and devices courses the opportunity to develop their management skills. . Eventually, he wants to add applications such as augmented reality to the lab.

A second step in the process was the creation and implementation of an internal app store, with the aim of allowing students to develop apps and try them out in the lab.

Finally, Bliemert wanted Apple’s Dutch supplier, Amac Pro, to help him think about innovation in education.

“A lot of times we use a book for education, so you can skim through it from A to Z, but it’s deadly boring. I want to provide a challenging and innovative education for my students,” he said.

The decision was therefore made to offer Apple’s knowledge and skills as electives in the second year of the computer systems and devices and software development programs. “There is no secondary education course material for this yet, [which] allows us to determine how we want to organize it,” Bliemert said.

Innovation gives energy

Bliemert sees two major advantages in this pedagogical innovation.

“Students who opt for this specialization have stepped out of their comfort zone during the choice. It gives them a different experience and offers new perspectives,” he said.

“Another advantage is that my colleagues, the teachers, are also starting to look at education in a different way. It provides a lot of energy. Although we take refresher courses and training on other occasions, I find that – partly because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life – we quickly fall back on what we have always done, instead what we would like to do. Pedagogical innovation is about creating time, and we basically do that in this course so that it fits better,” he added.

“My motivation is to offer our students something that has value in many professional contexts,” Bliemert said. “ICT people are no longer in the basement of a company, but have relevant roles in healthcare, logistics, energy transition and countless other areas.”

This is why the director likes to involve other fields of study in his program so that the students are encouraged to work together on common projects. “I like working on social tasks where ICT is the lubricant,” he said.

Thus, for example, health establishments are involved in a collaboration between the care and well-being sector and the School of ICT. “When we bring care and technology together and show students at an early stage the added value of this integration, we are educating a new generation who experience technology in care as a given. »

Respond to market demand

Apple itself has also shown interest in the project that ROC Mondriaan and Amac Pro are undertaking together to create education for secondary vocational education in the field of Apple equipment and software, and contributes to it in the form of two master classes.

“The appeal comes from the fact that with this elective course, we are introducing people to technology that they don’t get in the standard way at home,” Bliemert explained. “They don’t always have the resources to learn this technology at home, but by giving them this opportunity at school, we are training people to meet market demands, who know how to manage Apple devices and develop iOS applications. .

“Of course, it has advantages for Apple, but I see it primarily from the perspective of my students. Their job opportunities will increase with this specialization.

As far as Bliemert is concerned, the course material being developed is shareware, but it is also very pragmatic.

“It’s not about all secondary education courses to have to offer this now,” he said. “As a provider of secondary vocational education, we have to listen to the field for which we train our students. Ultimately, it is important that we offer skills that will be useful to the entry-level professional in the field.

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