28 January 2016

What about Black Pete?

Half of the students of Floris van den Berg thinks the Black Pete tradition should stay. This is one of the results of the test that the environmental studies lecturer did with PresentersWall.

Students can react to propositions their teacher made using their mobile phones and with PresentersWall the teacher can show the results immediately. Floris van den Berg was tipped off about this new digital tool by his colleague Robert Harmsen, he instantly drew up a questionnaire and used this the next day. With success, which he knew because almost all students answered positive on his last question if it was fun to work with.


‘I was looking  for a way to have a more interactive lecture,’ says Van den Berg. ‘I find this difficult with a group of eighty students. When I ask a question, just a single student responds, but using this tool created a good atmosphere straightaway.’
Van den Berg had made a list of questions to use in his course ‘The Microscope and the Elephant’, which is an introduction to the philosophy of science and ethics. ‘If you use a microscope to look at different parts of an elephant, you won’t see the animal in its entirety. The course learns you that in science you shouldn’t only zoom in, but also zoom out.’

David Bowie

Van den Berg didn’t aim to test knowledge, his ambition was to dare his students to form their opinion on ethical issues. For this purpose he formulated 23 questions on which the students could respond with yes or no, including some fun questions like: “Could David Bowie sing?”
‘This method has the advantage that no one has to hesitate to give a politically incorrect answer. If you have to raise your hand it could be tricky to be honest, but now discussions started spontaneously, for instance about the question “If two-thirds of the voters are in favour of the sharia, should you introduce it?”’