ODL'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES

1.           With our education we are aiming to support the student’s development into a free thinking and problem solving person who can act with imagination, intellectual  rigor and a sense of purpose in the modern real-life world. We would like to facilitate an open workplace in which we can inquire together into the questions of society and explore a progressive approach to contemporary and future life. We want to school people into free human beings that can develop their individual and critical insights while keeping their curious attitudes (open souls).

2.           In the sense of development lies the true renewal of universities and education. The spirit of the open design education should be: care for young people who want to develop in the future. This means letting students develop their individual powers in their own way, where we are a complicit and conducive constructor rather than an instructor. So it is not our job to impose opinions and filling a vessel with facts, but to ignite a flame that can burn ‘forever’.

3.           Ultimately, behind all the techniques and forms, education is about co-creation and practicing a living dialogue : between human-ego inner and system-eco outer (within student’s experience-world) who both will talk back. In the lecture room, where a true dialogue can be conducted, insight and space is created for the student to allow designs to become open. This is a form that lays the foundation for a future-proof form of learning development rather than a form in which knowledge is based on facts and instructive knowledge from the past. Only the real experience can bring knowledge and insights. True insights can only be obtained if one starts from real-life and from experiences

4.           The open design learning concept, where self-creation and reflective dialogue are one of the key elements, is a form in which we can teach complementary based on the needs and demands of the professional field. For us, the true education will open the ‘aha-erlebnis’. The university is a free workplace for these experiences, where it is not about tricks and easy to forget knowledge, but about persistent learning with an open-ended attitude and personal development (‘bildung’). This requires for me as a teacher descending vertically to connect horizontally: co-reflecting, co-creating and co-sensing while connecting to the student’s experience-worlds.

5.           We are inspired to work with young people, say the ‘unbiased open-ones’. We intend to do this not from an authoritarian basic attitude, but from an open attitude in which we don't have complete knowledge, but in which we are a constructor for the students instead of an instructor. This requires experiential thinking and true believe in dialogue with the student and their system of interest . Since we operate in dynamic systems with multiple utilities we also do not know everything or that we have the one single solution This requires an open-end development approach, which does not stop during the lecture or immediately thereafter, but which is so constructed that it gives confidence in solving the problems of the future. This basic confidence can be laid by letting students experience that a person and or a (model of a) system will ‘talk back’ in a true dialogue to conceive new insights.

6.           For us the secret of teaching is not to act as an authority, but to incite students to work and reflect together in an open dialogue. Make sure they are interested and motivated and communicate so that students begin to realize that there is not one single true and or given solution. Ensure that a kind of naivety and curiosity remains, in which you can work with open eyes on new designs, new solutions for problems within the context of interest. Educating is a form of art where dignity, enthusiasm, wisdom and love are needed from the teacher (open spirit).

7.           In our education we are aware of the following. What do people do when they face a question? Either a big or a small question. What do people do then? They think about it, break their heads about it, and believe that it must be them who must take the solution of the question from the depths of thought. Whoever goes the way of insight does not do it that way. Goethe has characterized it, as he has also indicated many other things as initiates . He says: ‘we are not called to solve the question, but first to ask the question and wait, how the question solves itself. Don't underestimate this way of solving questions! We should try to ask ourselves the question very clearly, but do not think about the answer, but about the means that are suitable for resolving the issue’.

8.           We would like to contribute to unfolding answers to the open questions and finding solutions to the problems of our time and for the future. Such contributions have to prove themselves in practice and they must be able to give clear information on the extended knowledge and scientific foundations they are based on. This applies also to education, especially in the age of transhumanism. Practice and knowledge, if they are conveyed in accessible and comprehensible ways, move more closely together and present major challenges in all engineering and management education areas. What must not be forgotten in all this are open design creativity, transformative power and social action as essential preconditions for a better future for humanity. Teachers are there to induct skills for the developments of tomorrow rather than deduct knowledge from yesterday’s reality.

9.           We do not believe in test based education. Especially within the engineering and management context, it’s all about creation and evaluation as the primary learning objectives. The vehicle to develop these is the self-created textbook and open glass-box model. The student’s goal is not proving that he/she is able to know facts and figures rather than demonstrating that he/she is able to solve a problem and to be a ‘reflective designer’ within a self-chosen and experiential system of interest. So, in other words we are convinced that it is not about knowing the facts by heart but having the ability to navigate through a multi-disciplinary context in a quest for solving problems. That is why we propose to use the student’s self-created textbook and model (linked to a self-chosen system of interest) to commend not only their learning goals but also their learning process and attitude: a shift from assessment towards commendation.

10.        It is our future ideal to bring students into contact with art, the art of designing and problem solving: the modern art of education. Because from inner- and outer ‘sculpting’, that starts from an intuitive initiative by which a student is being warmed, new ideas can arise or ‘unknown’ solutions will be unfolded (from the will, via the heart to mind) . We call this bottom-up learning which should be complementary and goes hand-in-hand with to the top-down learning (from mind, via heart to will). In other words, we do want to shift from education-competence (‘onderwijskunde’)  towards education-art (‘onderwijskunst’) in a social-human manner. Our next generation students will be called ζ - professionals : ‘integrativists‘ who demonstrate that the sum of the parts is less than the whole (for example they do have a (civil) engineering β-background supplemented with additional socio-economic γ-skills).

​11.        The ethos behind our teaching is to facilitate students becoming dynamic and creative thinkers who can work independently with initiative, inspiration and imagination, well prepared for future life. This approach requires students to develop confidence and courage in themselves as learners in a lifelong open-ended context. Our open design learning concept supports this in every respect. Inherent within our ODLc courses is the opportunity for students to develop:​

  • an understanding of the world around them through crossovers and connective engineering assets and management topics;

  • their analytical, and even more important, integrative thinking, reflection, modelling skills and confidence in both their scientific  and creative work;

  • an understanding of the importance of living within, and developing one’s community, and through this an understanding that each individual brings gifts to be valued and respected;

  • a greater awareness of both strengths and growing points for oneself and the  capabilities of others and strengthen these skills for future learning;

  • critical thinking, engagement, curiosity, self-motivation and independence in their learning;

  • confidence in making or standing back from judgement;

  • healthy social awareness and a sense of responsibility for each other and for our future world.

Reference books

For some of the building blocks of these guiding principle, see for example one of our reference books (chosen for max. 1 book per author):​

  • Russell Ackhoff: The art of problem solving, 1978

  • D. Kolb: Experiential Learning, 1984.

  • Donald Schön: Educating the Reflective Practitioner, 1987

  • Chris Argyris: Organizational Learning II, Theory, Method, and Practice, 1996.

  • Bernard Lievegoed: The man on the threshold, 1998

  • Henri Bortoft: The Wholeness of Nature Goethe’s way of sciences, 1996

  • Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue, 2003

  • Lex van Gunsteren: Management of industrial R&D, 2003

  • David Bohm: On Dialogue 2nd  ed. 2004

  • Peter-Paul van Loon: Open Design - a Stakeholder-oriented Approach, 2006

  • Arthur Zajonc: The Heart of Higher Education, 2010

  • Christof Wiechert: Teaching – the Joy of Profession, 2012

  • Otto Scharmer: Theory U, 2016

  • Gert Biesta: The rediscovery of Teaching, 2017