E-learning support

Education Support

E-learning support

Emerging technologies have changed the way we live and affect the way students learn. However, applying these tools in education can often be a struggle for teachers.

We cordially welcome staff and students for advice and support on trending topics in e-learning and the use of emerging technologies for education and how to embed these technologies in the digital learning environment.

Our Services:

  • Facilitation & didactic support on (selecting and implementing) emerging technologies in education; we guide you and your course through your first steps in e-learning
  • Demonstrations, training sessions and workshops on the use of emerging technologies for education
  • Discuss any educational question that involves technology.

In need for support?

  • Check out the Online Manuals we selected for you or attend a demo or workshop
  • Have your questions answered by the library, or redirected to an expert at the e-learning support team
  • Complex questions may result in one-to-one personal instruction sessions of 60 minutes max
  • We can offer, at additional costs, tailor-made support.

Amongst other topics, we currently focus on video for education and peer feedback tools. But we also perform pilots in line with UM’s digital learning environment, like alternative tools for plagiarism checks and EDLAB projects. You can find more about our projects on this website.

Of course, we welcome your ideas on other emerging technologies for learning and instruction!

For whom?
We are open to teachers, students and educational researchers. We hope you share our ed-ICTion!

Themes, topics and projects


e-Learning or e-Education is often a means to facilitate teaching or learning processes. We currently work within 4 themes giving a framework for our projects and activities. The quadrants in the picture (e.g. e-interaction) refer to information on these themes.

Themes describe topics or activities giving content to the theme (e.g. collaborative knowledge building as an example of interaction) and if applicable (used within a project) we eventually describe tools as an option serving the aimed-for activity. Our projects are connected to at least one of the themes.

Projects described can have several statuses:

  • finished and possibly scaled up; meaning that the experimental tool has been implemented for the whole university now
  • in the middle of experimenting (ongoing project)
  • in preparation (possibly opportunity to participate in an experiment).

For every project you can address the corresponding contact person. For general questions related to e-leaning, contact us via elearning-ub@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

The following means to serve as inspiration and will be updated on a regular basis, based on current or upcoming projects or topics of interest.

Theme: e-interaction

Interaction is seen as crucial for problem based learning. In this section we describe e-learning tools which can facilitate interaction during educational activities, like lectures and tutorial group meetings. But you can also offer (or make use of) tools to facilitate interaction e.g. in the context of collaborative learning, for example co-writing.

Audience (student) response tools

More and more teachers are implementing a student response tool for their lectures. Mostly because they want to enhance interaction with their students or to assess prior knowledge about the topic in question. In addition teachers want to increase students’ motivation and give them a concentration boost. Audience response tools give the opportunity to facilitate interaction during live sessions and instantly make use of the feedback.

Project: Voting for interaction / Gosoapbox (finished, tool available)

voting experiences
Several teachers (from various faculties) inquired after the availability of voting software to improve interaction during lectures. The e-learning support team facilitated testing with 3 different applications. Teachers were looking for ways to get a clearer idea of prior knowledge among students, to assess  students’ perception of (task) difficulty, to make the lecture more interesting or open for discourse , or  just to add a  concentration boost to the lecture.

After pilots in several educational settings we arranged an institution wide license for GoSoapBox, an award-winning audience response tool used by educators around the world.

GoSoapbox appeared to be a user friendly tool to facilitate interaction during a lecture or presentation. Students find it easy to use and appreciate the tool as an add-on to the lecture. They felt more engaged, had the feeling to really interact with the teacher and other participants and thought the session was more attractive.

Another other practice in which GoSoapbox has been used is the opening of the recent academic year. FASoS-teacher Claudia Engelmann presented on the use of this audience response tool within her lectures at the first European Conference on Teaching and Learning (2014).

  • Sign up for a GoSoapbox teacher account and start creating events
  • Check out the GoSoapbox manual

Interested in alternatives for GoSoapbox? We described four tools (of many) in this flyer. Amongst these is also ‘Presentations’, part of the FeedbackFruits tool which also offers functionality for organising (peer) feedback. If you are interested in piloting with FeedbackFruits, you can contact the e-learning support team.

Concept mapping tools

Concept-mapping and mind-mapping software are used to create diagrams or relationships between concepts, ideas or other pieces of information. At several faculties concept and mind mapping tools are being used by students and teachers. For example to support:

  • note taking (often claimed that the mind mapping technique can improve learning efficiency up to 15% over conventional note taking)
  • the brainstorm in the tutorial group meeting
  • or structuring the study or writing process of the individual student.

Project: Zooming in on concept mapping tools (finished, tool available)

Together with the faculty of Health, Medicine and Life sciences we experimented with several tools in order to describe them and their fit into education. As may be expected from mindmapping software, all include the same basic functionality of creating and naming relationships between elements of a certain theorem. We decided to describe four more in depth.

  • SmartIdeas (bought by the faculty several years ago and available via the Student desktop)
  • CmapTools (free available on the internet, but also installed on the Student desktop)
  • Coggle (free version available, for more functions you can buy a personal license)
  • MindMeister (a tool available for buying).

For information on making use of one of these, please consult the flyer.

Wikis & blogs

Teaming and cooperation will often be stressed and chosen as the format to have students gather and use their knowledge. EleUM offers several options to facilitate co-creation and collaborative knowledge building.

The EleUM support team is constantly focusing on the functionalities EleUM offers to facilitate teaching and learning. Amongst these were wikis (ideal for collaborative writing and peer review) and blogs (e.g. suitable as a reflection tool). The links refer to the EleUM support blog.

Project Heritage Lectures 

Since 2015 the Dutch Foundation for Academic Heritage together with Wikimedia Netherlands has been organising so-called heritage classes as part of the Wikipedia Education Program. These lectures revolve around the use and enrichment of Wikipedia in higher education with a focus on historical sources (academic heritage). A curator and a Wikimedia coach are involved. With its MaRBLe-project On Expedition, Maastricht University aims to stimulate excellence by engaging students in the study of early travel books. On Expedition is a collaboration between the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University Library and Wikimedia Netherlands.

Project contact person is e-learning support team member and UM Special Collections curator Odin Essers.

Virtual classroom

PBL in Maastricht is organised around small scale group sessions or tutorial groups (consisting of 12-18 students). Once or twice a week students meet in a tutorial group meeting under the guidance of a tutor. They then discuss problem tasks and define what they need to study of perform to master the theory and make transfer happen.

Sometimes physically meeting on campus is not feasible. If you do want to interact even on a distance, you can consider making use of a virtual classroom (part of EleUM).

Theme: e-experience
With the advent of emergent technologies, simulations and gaming can mimic reality and provide opportunities to deliver learning experiences in a realistic setting. Simulations are used in learning environments and offer a time-efficient way to reach the desired level of performance, while simultaneously increasing the performance level reached.

Implementing games is done based on the assertion that thinking and learning skills can be developed by playing some adventure or role playing games. Also at UM the possibilities of gaming are being explored. Andreas Herrler (FHML) invested in creating a serious game to help his students actively engage with the subject. It is actually a self-assessment tool meant to improve student performance within the context of anatomy. According to Herrler, serious games “have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement. This does not mean that serious games are not, or should not be, entertaining.”

In the Innovation project Education Innovation with IT, SURFnet has created a Testbed to enable students, lecturers and ICT & Educational Innovation programme managers to experiment with new technologies, often in the area of simulation and gaming. Tools being explored are (amongst others) smart glasses, virtual and augmented reality and 3D-video. Click here for the results of the Innovation Challenge  (in Dutch only) SURF launched last year. 

Theme: e-content

A student aiming to become an academic needs to study theory or content. Often teachers provide a text book or literature list. In PBL the student define learning issues to gain knowledge on and need to find and study learning resources themselves. Next to making use of a literature list, you can consider offering/studying e-content in your course. This can simply be a link to an e-reader, but also alternative online resources. Examples of e-content are video and animation or open educational resources.

Video for your course

One image can be stronger than a thousand words! And videos can be a welcome addition to text books as well. The University Library offers a collection of videos and other AV resources, but the internet is also becoming a prominent supplier for higher education. Check for instance websites like http://www.youtube.com/education or http://podacademy.org/ .

A specific category refers to web lectures. Higher education institutions recording (part of) their lectures are no longer an exception. To re-attend lectures on difficult topics or to be present at a distance when traveling is no option. Sometimes registrations are used for creating short clips on specific topics, to be used in other educational contexts or for other audiences.

Project: Video Services (finished)

With the rise of new opportunities in the field of recording devices more questions arise like (what tool fits best, what does offering a video mean for my role as a teacher, which copyright issues should I take care of, etcetera.

In April 2017 the library completed the video services project. Members of Maastricht University teaching staff, who would like to use video in their education, now have a one stop portal for video recording, uploading and sharing: VideUM. VideUM offers information on video production, didactics, and copyright. Here you can upload a video, find out how to register your lecture or get inspired by good practices within the UM and beyond.

VideUM also serves as the gateway to UM video platform Mediasite. On this platform lecture recordings, as well as short educational videos, can be stored and shared with students. The UM library manages Mediasite, in close collaboration with faculty support staff. Follow this link for contact information of the support staff within your own faculty.

Project: Epidemiology animated (finished)

What counts for video, is also applicable for animations. Examples are Epidemiology animated, a product from a Leading in Learning project in which has been experimented with creating and offering animations for learning is the project of Bas Verhage (2012), and What is a MOOC?,  a quick and simple video on MOOCs by Dave Cormier and Neal Gillis. Attractive and strong, but laborious to create. Of course you can search for commercial producers.

Open Educational Resources

Specific categories of learning resources are the Open Educational Resources (OER). These are resources or learning objects offered for free on the internet. Sometimes too good to be true, sometimes of very poor quality. A state of the art description on Open Educational Resources is published by SURF in the 2015 Open and Online Education Trend Report by SURF .

On the Open Education Website, we offer examples of repositories with open educational resources, but also information on copyright issues and a tutorial to help students and teachers to find and evaluate information, accompanied with some general search tips and tricks.

What we don’t want to left unspoken in this section are the MOOC’s: Massive Open Online Courses. The MOOC-list provides an overview of all upcoming MOOCs in the next thirty days.

Project: UM-MOOC (finished)

Maastricht University has launched (and finished) it’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in 2015. The topic was central to our education: Problem-Based Learning (PBL).

As this MOOC also follows PBL principles, working online in small groups is an important part. We will soon inform you on the experiences from participants and others involved.

For more information about the UM MOOC, please consult the website: Problem-Based Learning: Principles and Design Students at the centre!

Open Education Week

For over five years the Open Education Week has been organised (traditionally in March). This event is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement and its goal is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Universities, colleges, schools and organizations from all over the world have come together to showcase what they’re doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone.

On the website you can check out videos to learn more about open education and why it’s important to communities around the world. Find out what interests you, and explore. Join a webinar, see what projects are going on around the world, or attend a live event.

Check your digital footprint

In addition to instruction videos the library offers tutorials on several topics, ranging from academic information skills to support for researchers. In Personal Branding Online you will learn how to build and maintain a professional online image. It contains chapters on topics such as self-branding, social networking sites and online identity management, including legal issues.

Today your image is mostly defined by what people will find about you on the internet. This image, based on online data like photos, videos, likes etc., is your digital identity or footprint. In higher education, it is important to build and manage a positive professional online image. This tutorial will help you improve your online image so your name will turn up positive and professional within the academic community.

Go to Personal Branding Online

Theme: e-testing and coaching

As the amount of e-content grows and teachers and students get used to interact and build knowledge (also) online, you might wonder what developments are at hand for e-testing and e-coaching. Some universities invest in large test-halls, others collaborate in developing large item-banks.

Tools for e-assessment available for you:

  • Tests and surveys in EleUM: everything you want to know about creating and setting up (self) tests, surveys and pools in your EleUM course.
  • The Grade centre in EleUM is more than just a way to record students’ grades. It is a dynamic and interactive tool, allowing you to record data, calculate grades, and monitor student progress. In the Grade centre, you can provide and manage your students’ grades for assignments, tests, discussion posts, journals, blogs, and wikis, and for ungraded items, such as surveys or self-tests. You can also create grade columns for any activities or requirements you want to grade, such as special projects, participation, or attendance.
  • Safe assignment tool (with plagiarism check).
    Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation and stealing and publication of another author‘s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions and the representation of them as one’s own original work (source: Wikipedia). Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and can result into sanctions like penalties, suspension, and even expulsion. It is important that students are made aware of what the teacher considers plagiarism. At the same time practically all papers and assignments handed in by students are automatically checked on plagiarism (if offered as a safe assignment). If a report reveals plagiarism, it is up to the teacher to decide on what consequences should be applied.

Project: Plagiarism as a challenge (finished)
Focusing on Turnitin for detecting plagiarism, lead to the conclusion that the anti-plagiarism functionality of Turnitin proved to be of little added value compared to the already available Blackboard anti plagiarism tool SafeAssign. The UM has decided to join a Surf initiative to search for and test Turnitin alternatives.

Project: tools for (peer) feedback (finished)
In the slipstream of the plagiarism project and accompanied with the focus of group member evaluation within the context of group work, teaching staff showed great interest for feedback tools enabling them to organise and proces (peer-) feedback. That’s why we started a project, in which we:

  1. explore alternatives for organising peer feedback;
  2. consulted UM program directors to make an inventory of the online tooling needed and the desired UL support for their educational scenarios;
  3. which will be continued by informing UM teaching staff about those available online tools (and supporting them when implementing) that have been indicated as valuable for education by program directors.

Meanwhile the UM has finished piloting FeedbackFruits as a tool for organising feedback on students (by teachers and peers, both document and non-document related) and has decided to join the national consortium with FeedbackFruits for a period of 4 years. This means that we can continue to offer tools for providing teacher feedback (e.g. on written documents) and for peer review and group member evaluation after summer, but also for other didactic scenarios like student interaction around documents, videos or presentations.

Contact us

The e-learning support team consists of 6 enthusiastic members:

Gaby Lutgens e-learning specialist and team coordinator 85363
Odin Essers e-learning specialist and project leader 85027
Ilse Sistermans e-learning specialist and project leader 85013
Yvonne van den Broek project assistant 85150
Carlijn Postma trainee
Juul Kusters student assistant

We work closely with the EleUM support team and align our activities with the EDLAB, the UM institute focusing on educational innovation.



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