Understanding the needs of Dutch and Belgian Educators

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Some key learnings and hopes from my trip to the Netherlands and Belgium

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, was just here in Canada to meet, to talk about shared issues and our historic ties of friendship. Coincidentally, this week, I just landed in Europe and I am travelling to the Netherlands and Belgium to speak to our clients about shared issues and our ties to the Dutch and Belgian market.

The two visits are, of course, in no way related — though both are happening within the context of the special bond Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands have enjoyed since World War II, and that continues thanks to the similarities and shared interests among our countries.

As I speak with our clients, I expect that I’ll discover that many of the educational challenges facing Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world are shared by the Dutch and Belgian educators as well.

My focus, though, will be on learning about the unique challenges facing particularly Dutch and Belgium educators — and taking the opportunity in larger discussions to learn not only what Dutch and Belgium educators are doing to tackle those challenges, but entrepreneurs and startups, too. I’ll also be meeting in smaller sessions with teams that are implementing or have implemented Brightspace in their schools. Ultimately, our goal is to determine the role that Brightspace will play in building a strong and sustainable future for Dutch and Belgian education.

 

My trip will take me through Ghent in Belgium, Leiden, Den Bosch, Nijmegen, Delft and Amsterdam. I’ll visit the oldest university campus in the Netherlands — and the oldest continuously occupied place in the Netherlands. And I’m sure that it will be a reminder that while North Americans have a vast geography, Europe has a deep history. I’m looking forward not only to speaking with innovators looking to create a strong future, but also to visiting institutions with a very deep past.

In my larger talks, I plan on starting the conversation with what I think is a compelling idea — that in the future, education will be made more human by using technology. I won’t spoil it any further than that — but I promise to report back on what I said and what I heard from our customers and friends in Belgium and the Netherlands.

It was a Dutch Humanist — Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, for whom many Dutch schools are named — who famously observed that “the main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.” These days, that is less a national concern than a global one — which is why D2L’s mission is not “changing the way Canada learns,” or the United States, or Belgium or the Netherlands — but to change the way the world learns.

This trip is one more step in that journey.

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