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The spring when everything changed: Experiences from a Dutch vocational college

Rijn Ijssel is a large vocational college in Arnhem, the Netherlands, with over 15,000 students in various fields, and more than a dozen different campuses. For the past five years, Luksia and Rijn Ijssel have cooperated with Erasmus+ mobilities especially in the field of safety and security.

Arts and crafts student and teacher mobilities have also been organised, and the start has been very promising. 

(In Finnish only: Read safety and security students’ reports here and here, safety and security teacher’s report from 2016 and 2019, interior renovation student’s travel report here, and a report of Luksia’s textile design and arts teachers here)

Rijn Ijssel

Middachtensingel, one of the many campus buildings of Rijn Ijssel: safety and security students’ teaching is located in this building, together with business, hair and beauty, and international affairs administration of the college. Photo: Riikka Suhonen


Rijn IJssel has a large international department, with designated people in each field responsible for the international mobilities. The contact person for international activities in the field of safety and security is Anne-Marie Snel, Dutch language teacher who also visited Finland five years ago when the cooperation started.

In late May, we had a Teams video call with Anne-Marie to share our experiences of the past spring, as well as some ideas for the future.


How was this spring for Rijn Ijssel?

“I was proud how our teachers adjusted to the situation so quickly,” Anne-Marie says. First they thought that the classes would start working in shifts, half-size, but then the Prime Minister announced that all schools will be closed.

Teachers had to set up a full learning system online by communicating with each other through e-mail and telephone. “Within a week we had everything set up and running,” Anne-Marie describes. They started with Zoom, but shifted quickly to Teams to ensure better online security.

Although teachers at Rijn Ijssel were already quite experienced in e-learning, they had been mostly been using online tools in the classroom, or giving students online assignments to do at home.  

However, it was easier to set up the online learning, because the content and schedules had already been planned well in advance. Only the mode of teaching and learning had to be changed.

Anne-Marie has tried online exam on Teams, and different styles of online teaching, such as using a Powerpoint with a voice-over presentation.

Surprisingly, teachers have now had more time for those students who need extra help. Anne-Marie, for example, has two hours of Dutch lessons per week for the safety and security students. Now she has organised them online so that first, she explains 30 minutes of theory, and the assignments from the book. If everything is clear, the student can log out and just send their assignment by e-mail before the next class. If someone needs more explanation, they can stay online, and the teacher can help them one-on-one for specific problems.

Most students have enjoyed this type of learning, as their schedules have been less busy than usually.

Anne-Marie believes that it is even easier to have group discussions online, as the environment is calmer than in the classroom with usually a lot of noise and interruptions. The weekly teacher team meetings have also been shorter online than face-to-face.


 Anne Marie Snel

Dutch language teacher Anne-Marie at F1 races in Belgium, August 2019. Photo: Anne-Marie Snel.


What will the future of international cooperation look like between Luksia and Rijn Ijssel?

Anne-Marie is hoping to receive Luksia’s safety and security students already in November 2020, and perhaps send Rijn Ijssel students to Luksia in the spring of 2021. We will have to wait and see what happens when countries start to open their borders.

“We hope to make our cooperation stronger and build on what we already have,” Anne-Marie says about the future of Luksia-Rijn Ijssel partnership.

Each year a small group (2-4 students usually) of safety and security students from Luksia have been to Rijn Ijssel, and vice versa, to participate in school exchanges for five weeks with Erasmus+ support. In Luksia, we have integrated the Dutch students to our own student groups.  In a similar fashion, Finnish students have participated in the everyday life of Rijn Ijssel, particularly guarding the school campuses together with Rijn Ijssel safety and security students.

“Please stay healthy! I really hope our students can come to Finland again next spring, and we can just look back at this current situation,” Anne-Marie sends her wishes to Luksia.

Rijn IJssel 2


Study area in Rijn Ijssel school campus. Photo: Riikka Suhonen.


Text: Riikka Suhonen, Coordinator for International Affairs, Luksia


Read the other blog posts in this series:

“Finnish people are extrovert, and Finland is not boring at all”: being an Erasmus+ student in Helsinki during the Covid-19 pandemic

“Now we have time to evaluate what we are doing”: Norwegian partner school experiences from Covid-19 spring

International work between Luksia and Bromangymnasiet: Unchartered waters ahead - sustainability is crucial

“We will come out reinforced”: Interview with Luksia’s partner school in the Basque Country

Not only health, but a learning crisis: time for solidarity and cooperation, French VET college says