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Nynke de Jong: for all your questions on technical innovations

Nynke de Jong: for all your questions on technical innovations

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Wynand Wijnen Education Prize 2017

MAASTRICHT. The Wynand Wijnen Education Prize 2017 was awarded to Nynke de Jong during the anniversary celebration last Friday. She is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, the faculty with an extraordinary number of nominees this year. A coincidence. De Jong won, being praised by the jury as a “decisive, energetic innovator”.

“That's a good one,” assistant professor Nynke de Jong laughs. “Is it going to be a piece of five hundred words? Make it five thousand!” After speaking passionately about her discipline for three quarters of an hour, De Jong arrives at the conclusion that the Observant reporter has rather a lot of content for her article.
De Jong, working at the department of Health Services Research, is the winner of the annual Education Prize, consisting of 5,000 euro, a statue, and a certificate. The last one will soon join her collection of other certificates, awards and photographs on the wall. For example, she already won the Education Prize from the Faculty Health, Medicine and Life Sciences in 2015.

Her grandmother and mother taught at secondary schools and even though De Jong did not choose the same path – after grammar school she studied nursing “to gain practical experience” and subsequently Health Sciences at the UM – it seems that blood is thicker than water. She completed a PhD, doing research into fatigue in breast cancer patients, and stayed in Maastricht. With a growing focus on education and research.
The Wynand Wijnen Education Prize jury, chaired by professor Harm Hospers, was full of praise for De Jong because “her tremendous knowledge of (technical) innovations”. She remembers how some years ago she was asked during her PhD track to convert modules into e-learning. “I said, as I always do: ‘Oh, I'll do that, sounds like fun’, but I had no idea what e-learning was. I looked into the matter, purchased recording equipment, recorded lectures and came to grips with a video programme.” All these years later, she still knows what's what when it comes down to electronic learning environments. She converted, for example, the Tropics module for medical students who do training abroad – not the content, but the form – into an online block of four modules (Logistics and Safety, Mother and Child, Infectious Diseases, and Global Mindset).

“De Jong is constantly searching for new possibilities to introduce suitable technology into education,” the jury report stated. “But not just because it's fun,” De Jong reacts. “I feel it is important that students learn in various ways and become enthusiastic.” She is proud of her ‘own’ second-year module of Care in Context, which is part of the Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management track. In this module, which ran for the second time last autumn, students take a care journey from healthy to deceased and mourning. They visit a hospice and a crematorium. This is all meant to give the students an insight into the ‘real world’. “They need to know what they are talking about, because they are the ones who will make the policies later on.” It is certainly intensive, but also innovative. For example, students look through virtual reality glasses – a 360-degree video – at a district nurse doing her work. “They learn, among other things, about the modern technologies used in home care.” Students also work in groups on a research question from a patient organisation. Both live and online (web conferencing), they discuss their findings and inform each other as well as the lecturer and the organisation.

Lastly, we want to know if she can show us any technological highlights. “Yes. [She shows camera pictures of her front and back garden on her smartphone]. When someone is at the door and rings the bell when I'm not at home, I receive a signal on my smartphone. I can then say, for example, to the postman that he should deliver the package to my neighbour. Really handy.”
Oops. Seven hundred words. More than the intended five hundred. But still under the five thousand that she asked for, because if it was up to De Jong her whole module would have been added as an appendix. So that everyone in the UM would become just as enthusiastic.

The Wynand Wijnen Education Prize is awarded annually and consists of an amount of money (2,000 euro for a work-related project and 3,000 euro for personal use), a certificate, and a bronze statue. The jury includes nine members of staff from various faculties. This year, seven (groups) candidates were nominated. Besides Nynke de Jong, there was also:
*Gerard van Breukelen, Nick Boers, Jan Schepers, Alberto Cassese (Psychology and Neurosciences)
*Martens and Nagtzaam (Dermatology MUMC)
*Fokke Fernhout (Law)
*Jan Theys (FHML)
*Mieke Derickx (FHML)
*Frank Thuijsman (KnowledgeEngineering@work)

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