With Basicly, Vincent Veenbrink and Robert Adema want to prepare young people aged 4 to 18 earlier and better for their future in the digital society, Vincent says. 'We believe that digital literacy should be a structural part of primary and secondary education. With our online platform Basicly, we give teachers the opportunity to get started with this. Because the key to a successful implementation starts with the teacher.'
The impact of technology and digital society on our lives is great in all areas. Companies and jobs are changing, and knowledge and skills that are very important now will soon not be the same. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 percent of young people attending elementary school now will later find jobs that do not exist today. How can you prepare for that?
People make the difference
Vincent Veenbrink, founder of Basicly along with Robert Adema, believes you cannot develop a vision of the future without realizing that new technology will radically change society. 'As the role of technology in our society increases, the distinctions people make become more important. People will be needed to guide those processes. So you will need to invest in awareness and wisdom. Robert and I are good examples of the fact that it's quite possible to have done a different education and then end up somewhere completely different. We have developed a broad view and gained knowledge and skills with which we now add value in another area.'
It went like this. Vincent was studying real estate and Robert was doing law when they participated in a boot camp during their studies. The business community was asking for ideas to solve the shortage of well-trained ict personnel in the North. 'We felt challenged,' says Vincent, 'because we did have ideas about that. What we saw was that most initiatives were aimed at college or university students already studying ict. But they are already enthusiastic. The point is precisely that everyone, at all levels, should come out of college digitally proficient. Because it specialists no longer work only at it companies. It's about preparing children much earlier and better for the digital society.
This fresh perspective from Vincent and Robert led to I.Turn.IT in 2014. The foundation, funded by the business community, aimed to give structural attention to digital literacy in education. By developing a vision, providing engaging content in a relevant context and professionalizing teachers. Primary and secondary schools could make use of a pathway of cross-curricular project education.
Children could make stop motions, build websites and program robots. Everything to dust off the image of it and to show young people as early as possible what you can do with it and technology, not just programming and coding. Schools in a radius of ten kilometers were visited or stopped by at the A-location in the Oosterstraat in Groningen.
Economic Board Groningen assignment.
Businesses, regional governments and educational institutions invested in I.Turn.IT every year. But at some point they also received assignments themselves. 'Especially when we were commissioned by Economic Board Groningen to develop a total package for future-proof technology education in schools in northern Groningen, things went fast and we hit the limits of our growth,' says Vincent.
With four cars and 15 people, team I.Turn.IT was just able to serve Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe and the head of Overijssel, but if a school in Limburg had expressed interest a problem would have arisen. Time to reverse course.
Basicly, digital learning power
'Our approach has changed many times in all the years we have been working on it, but the thinking has always remained the same, explains Vincent. 'Our challenge has always been to structurally embed digital literacy in the curriculum of schools. With I.Turn.IT, we did that physically and often stood in front of the classroom ourselves. With the development of Basicly, we digitized our offering and shifted the emphasis to the teacher.
We are now an interactive online platform and aimed at guiding them in the full implementation of digital literacy. We're not called Basicly, digital learning power for nothing. By that, we certainly mean the daily portion of learning power we offer.' Basicly offers inspiring teaching for all levels and a wide variety of topics and resources. Teaching materials consist of inspiring lesson cards, learning paths and individual videos. Teachers can choose which digital literacy topics they want to work on: computational thinking, media literacy, basic ICT skills or information literacy. They can also choose to include complete curricula with learning objectives in their annual planning.
Basicly takes the work out of lesson preparation for teachers, Vincent says. 'Everything is aimed at offering digital literacy as simply as possible. In addition, we are available for help every day, by phone or via a live chat.'
SLO learning line
Because every teacher should have the opportunity to get started with digital literacy, Basicly Free is available to everyone. With a paid subscription Basicly Premium, the complete SLO learning line digital literacy is available. SLO, which stands for Stichting Leerplan Ontwikkeling, the national organization that indicates the learning goals to be achieved in education. The SLO learning line digital literacy will be presented on October 10 to Minister Slob, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education and Media, Vincent tells us. 'If he makes the learning line compulsory, schools must comply with it. That we are well prepared is no coincidence. We have already incorporated all SLO goals, which are more than 600, into our learning paths. Unbelievable, isn't it? I'm very proud of that.
'From the beginning of I.Turn.IT, we said we wanted to set up something that could exist on its own within five years,' Vincent explains. 'We managed to do that after four years. You could say that Basicly is the legacy of our partners in business. Of course we as a team did the work, but they meant a lot to us in terms of networking, trust and support. We were 21 and 22 years old! I have sometimes wondered if I would have believed myself when I hear myself talk back. I actually don't think so. Robert and I have also grown personally over the past few years, but it has not always been obvious that we would win this battle with each other, because we are vastly different.
Meanwhile, we have a good team of people who add value in all areas, in the fields of education, business development, change management, content development and presentations. Robert and I also now have a clear division of labor and each has our own responsibility. Now that Basicly is scalable we can take the next step, from regional to a national playing field. We will continue to develop and change our approach as needed. There is no other way, because developments are rapid and the near future cannot be predicted. So far, everything is going according to plan.'
The eye of the master
Hans Praat, Business Developer at NOM, has known Basicly from the very beginning. He is impressed. 'Many wonder how to bring digitization into education. Basicly seems to have found that formula. I think that is clever and it is important for the North, because we want to qualify as a frontrunner in digitalization. Perhaps their approach can also be used to get companies to digitize more quickly, as we aim to do with the Digital Innovation Hub. Moreover, Basicly is a great example of the ED-tech sector, which stands for Educational Technology, one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide. So roll it out quickly.