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Fun online learning platform wins Deans' Challenge

An online platform with instructive and social challenges to prepare students for the changing job market. This idea won the Piece of Skill team the Deans’ Challenge on 27 August. In this competition students invent solutions for global issues, selected by deans of Leiden University.

Rift between higher education and job market

De winnende studenten Wieke van der Ploeg, Ines Kaljee en Jody van der Ploeg winnen een reis naar New York en bezoeken daar onder andere het hoofdkwartier van de VN.
Students Wieke van der Ploeg, Ines Kaljee and Jody van der Ploeg won a trip to New York, where they visited the headquarters of the UN.

Piece of Skill is an online platform that allows students to develop important '21st century skills' in a fun and challenging way. Skills like: being critical and enterprising and working flexibly together. Students Ines Kaljee, Wieke van der Ploeg and Jody van der Ploeg thought up an approach to the challenge put forward by the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences: how can we in higher education develop skills that are appropriate for the present day? The platform, in the form of an app, website and books, offers assignments and a meeting place for social contacts. These are the tools that students believe trigger both students and graduates to continue to learn.

Exhilarating presentation

In the final of this first Deans' Challenge six finalists presented their plans at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Piece of Skill team had not only the best idea, but also the most exhilarating presentation, which received its just reward. The jury, comprising Willem te Beest (Vice-President of the Executive Board of Leiden University), Jeroen Verheul (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Caroline Kroon (DataOpeners), praised the three students for their consistent plan, its creativity and practical implementability. ‘Your presentation was spectacular,’ commented Verheul, chairman of the jury.

Getting on with the plans

The team will be further elaborating the concept of the platform. ‘We are now enormously motivated to really do something with it,’ commented Ines Kaljee, student of International Relations. The University will give the students as much support as possible in developing their plans, was the promise of Ivo de Nooijer, Director of Luris and one of the initiators of the competition.

Veiliger drinkwater dankzij sociale media

Alle finalisten van de Deans' Challenge
Alle the finalists of the Deans' Challenge

De Nooijer’s offer also applies to the other five finalists. Most teams opted for interactive online solutions. The students of the Citywater project, for example, used social media for safer drinking water. Their aim is to encourage people particularly in developing countries to share information on drinking water via social media so that governments will be under pressure to take action. Jury chairman Verheul of Foreign Affairs responded enthusiastically and intends to put the students in contact with the ‘water officials’ of his department. This is just what the Deans’ Challenge is about: addressing global problems by making use of collective ideas and bringing people together.

Read more about all six Deans' Challenges and the finalists' solutions

Read more

The Deans' Challenge

The Deans' Challenge is an initiative of the Centre for Innovation and the University knowledge exchange office Luris. Globalisation means we are facing new challenges, such as global warming and refugee migration. The Deans' Challenge encourages students to think about six specific present-day dilemmas and to come up with possible solutions. The deans of the different faculties  devised these challenges that are in line with the six themes of the Sustainable Development goals of the United Nations.

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