A word with: Wim van der Maas, about Smart Education Lab

13 September 2022

When you say 'MindLabs', you say 'projects'. Because experimenting, researching, developing and creating is in our DNA. There are always several projects running. But no matter how diverse they are, they all have one thing in common: we are very proud of every single one of them. In this edition of 'A word with...' we ask Wim van der Maas, program manager MindLabs at ROC Tilburg, all about the new Smart Education Lab.


Wim, you are the person who can tell us everything about the Smart Education Lab. Break loose: what exactly does Smart Education Lab mean?
To organize all the activities within MindLabs, clusters have been set up. We call these SmartLabs; Smart Education Lab is 1 of them. The Smart Education Lab will be the place where MindLabs partners will develop, test and experiment with the application of interactive technologies as a form of work for training and education. And where their plans will actually be implemented by students and external parties. This AI head group has already existed for some time under the name Head Group Interactive Technology of ROC Tilburg. The experimenting teachers transfer this to their students through the corresponding Practorate. In the Smart Education Lab both groups and other interested parties will soon come together within MindLabs.

And why does Smart Education Lab really belong at MindLabs?
ROC Tilburg is a co-founder of the ecosystem. We use the MindLabs theme primarily to renew our MBO education. This is reflected in Smart Education Lab. And with Smart Education Lab we literally activate the ecosystem. We offer partners the opportunity to explore collaborations. Whether or not as a separate project. Smart Education Lab makes it possible to form new coalitions.

What specific outcomes will the project ideally produce?
Whereas KIT and PIT really strengthen our own education, Smart Education Lab offers an expertise center for the entire region. For example, we are already giving workshops and organizing inspiration meetings about interactive technology. We are going to expand our offer once we are in the new building.

Which MindLabs partners are involved in Smart Education Lab?
Obviously ROC Tilburg. But also other knowledge institutions, such as Tilburg University, BUas and Fontys, can participate in the activities of Smart Education Lab. In fact, everyone in the new building. The physical layout of the Smart Education Lab has not yet been decided. But what we do know: it must be an inspiring and stimulating collaboration in the new building.

What exactly is your role within Smart Education Lab? What are you mainly concerned with?
Every knowledge institution involved in MindLabs employs a program manager. I am MindLabs program manager for ROC Tilburg, where I have to ensure the connection between the two parties. In recent years I have done a lot for MindLabs as an association, but now my focus is more on ROC Tilburg. For example, by giving more visibility to KIT. In this way I am also connected to Smart Education Lab; as quartermaster. Whenever a new MindLabs project is rolled out, I am its booster.

What is so enjoyable about your role?
Connecting different organizations. I was already doing this before I became program manager. I find the difference and the similarities between the interests of the world of education and business interesting. And it's nice to visit companies and see how you can connect them to an ROC. You can see it as bringing together two different worlds. And I like to look for the shared interest!

Smart Education Lab has just started. Are there any highlights you have experienced and can share?
In retrospect, yes. At the end of June, PIT hosted a number of organizations. During that gathering, we shared opportunities of technologies like VR, AR, interactive videos and gamification in education. And we discussed how, within the MindLabs ecosystem, there is collaboration to solve societal challenges with the deployment of these new technologies. Afterwards, you could immediately see that lines of communication were being established between the various parties. These lines can eventually be used in Smart Education Lab. Without having thought of it in advance, the meeting was the unofficial kickoff of the Smart Education Lab a nice happening.

What do you expect the coming period to look like?
With the opening of the new building and the new school year in sight, it is now time to enjoy a vacation. After that period of rest, we can continue to build PIT, KIT and the Smart Education Lab.

That concludes our work. Is it time for coffee first? Or is there something else on the agenda?
Coffee is always good! And this afternoon I have an appointment with Fontys Zorg. Together we're going to see if there's a need in the market for a level 5 healthcare training. Here again you can clearly see my role as a connector.