Behind the scenes | Update on the pilot hubs

Behind the scenes, the hard work of preparing the various focus areas is ongoing. In this article, we will update you on the status of the pilot hubs Data & AI, XR, Lecturer Support and EdTech.

11 May 2023 7 min

Each focus area is being prepared by a coordination team. Each of the teams consists of a representation of experts from vocational and education training schools, universities of applied sciences, research universities, and SURF. All teams have worked on a starting document that serves as advice to the (yet-to-be-appointed) core teams (consisting of programme managers and captains) of each focus area. An update.

Pilot hub Data and AI coordination team

The Pilot hub Data and AI aim to build a strong and active national network around the topics of learning data and AI in phase 1. In this network, different communities share knowledge, collect best practices and translate questions from the sector into concrete national products and services.

The first contours of the way towards this have come about through a collaboration between SURF, the Education Data zone of the Acceleration Plan, the programme Doorpakken op Digitalisering of the MBO Raad and the SIGs AI and Learning analytics. They started with an inventory of existing products and where opportunities for further development and innovation lie. The team drew up a draft plan and, following feedback from education experts (professors, administrators, lecturers and police officers), the first version of the plan was discussed with more than 100 colleagues from the sector on 15 March. The feedback received was incorporated into the starting document presented to the steering team in mid-April.

The core of the plan is that the pilot hub actively connects and supports existing communities, and together with them and (private) parties – develops products and services demanded by the sector. Directors are challenged to formulate a sector-wide shared vision for the use of Data and AI. Alongside the plan, the team has proposed a starting document containing several products and services that can now be launched soon.

By paying attention to building a network, drawing administrative attention and working on the first concrete products, the ambition is to have set up a structural process of innovation after two years, in which both the communities involved (bottom-up) and administrators (top-down) find their place.

Some concrete products from the pilot hub’s starting document are:

  • An Educational Data Competence Centre;
  • A national Learning Analytics experimentation environment combined with insights from best and worst practices Learning Analytics.

Pilot hub XR coordination team

XR offers many opportunities to provide a rich learning environment, to practice skills in a safe and feedback-rich environment and gain experiences that are difficult to achieve in practice. Thus, XR can contribute to high-quality education that enables learners to become all-around professionals.

All institutions are experimenting with XR and facing challenges. To address these challenges, we need to invest mainly in the preconditions of XR. Once this is aligned at the national and institutional level, we will realise together the possibility to work on the XR component for that high-quality education.

A large number of people from different institutions fuelled the XR pilot hub coordination team to come up with a plan of action. The main components of the plan are:

  • Building the existing communities into a strong active national community where knowledge is shared and collaborations are sought to address challenges together;
  • Building a national XR infrastructure;
  • Developing content strategies to most effectively and efficiently make high-quality content available to all learners that adds value to the learning process;
  • Working on a blueprint for an organisational structure and institution-specific technology infrastructure to adequately address challenges such as privacy and hardware management and compatibility issues;
  • Researching and experimenting in the area of new technologies such as ‘Metaverse’ and new learning experiences to be sustainable and future-oriented.

The pilot hub XR aims to deliver both results from explorations into future services and concrete products such as good examples and roadmaps.

Building the community has already started. So do you want to join or have questions? Then contact the coordination team at

Pilot hub Lecturer Support coordination team

The Pilot hub Lecturer support focuses on the question: ‘How do we ensure that institutions provide their lecturers with the best possible support for educational (innovation) with technology?’ In two years’ time, we want there to be a strong, active national network of educational technology professionals within secondary vocational, higher vocational and university institutions who are directly or indirectly involved in facilitating the professional development of lecturers and teams of lecturers in the field of educational (innovation) with technology.

We focus on the group of support staff around the lecturer. These include educational technology professionals, educational experts and HR(D) advisors. We want to enable them to optimally support lecturers (teams) in education (innovation) with technology. Indirectly, the pilot hub focuses on the managers of lecturers (teams), such as team leaders and programme managers. They fulfil an important role in ensuring the right preconditions for lecturers to (learn to) use technology effectively and meaningfully in their education.

Within this network, knowledge is shared, experiences are exchanged and wishes from the institutions are translated into concrete products and services. The network also supports the professional development of educational technology professionals themselves.

In recent months, the coordination team has been working hard on a plan (starting document) for the pilot hub. It is great to see that the existing networks from the programmes Doorpakken op digitalisering (vocational and education training schools) and the Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT (universities of applied sciences and research universities) are actively involved in the activities from Npuls in the field of lecturer support and the professional development of lecturers. The products we have developed in recent years will of course be included in the pilot hub’s activities.

The plan is based on the following two objectives. Firstly, strengthening the quality of and preconditions for lecturer support within the institutions of vocational and education training schools (VET), universities of applied sciences and research universities. Second, strengthening the educational technology professional in his/her role as a link between national developments, lecturers and other stakeholders in the institution.

To achieve these objectives, we have formulated the following activities, among others:

  • Exploring and deploying a monitoring tool that helps relevant stakeholders within and across institutions to form a good picture of the digital competence of lecturers (teams) and to make and evaluate targeted interventions on that basis.
  • The development of an instrument for effective demand articulation for translating support questions of (teams of) lecturers into appropriate knowledge, products and services.
  • Developing a course for educational ICT professionals.

Pilot hub EdTech coordination team

The pilot hub EdTech aims to contribute to the development of a fully-fledged national EdTech ecosystem. In this ecosystem, educational institutions are independent of large EdTech companies and operate on the basis of their own public values. The demand from educational institutions and the supply from EdTech companies align, as new and improved forms of cooperation between educational institutions and EdTech are developed. In addition, EdTech innovations are developed from within the educational institutions and there is scope to scale them up and embed them sustainably.

The coordination team has been working with a writing team in recent months to set up a plan of action. For input, the pilot hub team invited professionals from the sector to think along in the form of a working session. That input has since been taken on board and, where necessary, incorporated into the plan of action. In the plan of action, cooperation is a key component. Consider cooperation with key partners, such as SURF and EdTech companies.

The plan of approach incorporates objectives in line with the above vision of the pilot hub. The pilot hub coordination team has drawn up the following objectives:

  • Making a professionalisation step in the field of (collaborating) on EdTech solutions;
  • Improving the procurement strategy towards EdTech suppliers;
  • Developing improved and new forms of cooperation between educational institutions and EdTech companies;
  • Increasing opportunities to develop and scale up EdTech innovations from educational institutions.

Latest news