photo: Open Universiteit

In fact, my career did not start with much teaching. Around 1965 I worked as an assistant in a practical course on ethology. I had learned students to observe, to record the observations, to invent simple experiments, and to present the data and conclusions on paper or in a short lecture. Later, I coached a number of master students who participated in my research projects. In addition I sometimes contributed to series of lectures for students. However, from 1969 to 1986 my main focus was on research. After that period I started to make courses for the Open Universiteit, initially without, but gradually with more and more contacts with students. By this interaction I could determine to what extent the material was suitable. Strangely, most courses of the Open Universiteit were made without such direct interaction between author and students. I perceived that this interaction is highly valuable, and also realized that direct contacts with students and among students were crucial for effective transmission of knowledge and skills. I teached advanced students all over the Netherlands and Flanders, and also acted as a tutor for regional students, for instance in the beautiful building of the Open Universiteit in Groningen (photo above). I tried to bring students together, to challenge them in discussions and to provoke them with my columns.

photo: Evelin Karsten-Meessen

I particularly enjoyed to go into the field with the students, but distance education rarely offered such opportunities. I acted as an author for courses, developed courses, played the role of tutor, taught starting and master students, and was closely involved in the innovation of the teaching. Together with Bep Franke, who had successfully completed the study, a new framework was developed for meetings with students. This resulted in more effective teaching, and more and better contacts among students, and between students and teachers. I also experimented with electronic workbooks and reshaped parts of existing courses into 'open source' courses. In addition, I participated in the experiments with electronic classrooms.

photo: Jeanne van Amesfoort

By the way, with at least the same amount of pleasure I also work as a teacher for other kinds of groups. Since a couple of years, for instance, I participate in the 'Klokhuis vragendag' in the Science Museum NEMO in Amsterdam. Then I play the role of investigator who tries to answer burning questions of small children. That's rewarding too! 


contact via e-mail: johan-van-rhijn@wxs.nl