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21st century skills: Avans and New Heroes join forces

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You do not only expect college students to learn everything there is to know in their field of study. Personal leadership, planning skills, presenting and communicating are equally as important.

In fact, when the departments for Marketing Management and Business & Retail of the Avans University of Applied Sciences in Breda presented their new study program to business representatives, the representatives said to be looking for young professionals with additional skills, like problem solving, social and other soft skills, also known as 21st century skills. Undeniably right up New Heroes’ alley. That's why Avans and New Heroes joined forces to facilitate students to focus on personal growth and development.​

Increasing demand for 21st century skills

Paul Bartels, lecturer business management, was looking for new input for the module personal leadership, part of the courses Marketing Management and Business & Retail Management. Paul: “A fellow lecturer pointed out New Heroes and their online courses in soft skills. We enrolled six of our students in a pilot project last year. They were a big fan: studying whenever you want, making your own choices about competencies you want to work on and a varied presentation of text and practical assignments. As a result, all our students now have access to the online courses of New Heroes.

Ayer Sari is CEO of both departments since February 1st. She just recently became acquainted with New Heroes. “I’ve noticed an increasing demand for 21st century skills. You have to pay attention to the development of these skills, but that means you will have to implement this in your study program.”

Steve Jobs' kids and others from Silicon Valley attended schools with limited access to technology. This was to encourage them to communicate face-to-face with one another.

Building bridges

Ayfer: “Communicative skills are becoming increasingly important. There are a lot of new developments within ICT, but we are mainly looking for people who can stimulate teamwork and effectively fill the gap between different ICT-departments. That is the current focus of our courses and we prefer to do that independent on location, time or device.

Precisely what New Heroes offers. We were looking for a way to learn by trial and error and the possibility to choose your own path. I definitely believe that joining forces with New Heroes is a huge improvement to our study program. We are thankful that Paul initiated this project and the implementation of it throughout the departments.”

The right tools to make the right choices

Paul: “Personal growth and development have become increasingly important components of our new program. Students can also gain more credits. In their first year they are awarded 31 credits for their internship, their projects and the development of their soft skills. They are awarded 29 credits for hard skills. Students define their learning goals and figure out a way how to demonstrate their achievements.

Some students have a clear vision of their future objectives, sometimes because they already own a business. Or they want to know everything there is to know about -for instance- bitcoins. But other students can sometimes seem clueless. Don’t forget: they’re only just 18 or 19 years of age. We therefore provide them with the tools to make the right choices. New Heroes is one of those options. Out of 400 freshmen, approximately 100 students have subscribed this year. And they take pride in posting their certificates on LinkedIn.”

Very effective: time management

Then what are the most popular courses provided by New Heroes? Paul: “Time management for sure! Our students know that they’ll run into this problem one time or another. It is not considered to be a very ‘cool’ course, but most of our students chose this one. And it definitely helped them a lot. It is important that they make these discoveries themselves.”

Just like student Koen Breugem. In the online magazine ‘Punt van Avans’ he writes the following: Planning never has been my forte. That’s why I thought it was a good idea to take up the course Time Management. It was very insightful and helpful. I nowadays plan my test week a month in advance, including time set aside for leisure and parties.

The courses ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Mindfulness’ are also very popular. Ayfer: “The clear grouping and order of the courses on the site is a bonus. Our students are able to easily determine which courses are a good fit.” Paul: “Some of our students definitely do not want to choose a course in developing soft skills, so they prefer courses like ‘Consultative selling’. But others prefer something like coaching; they are looking for evaluation of and reflection on their personal growth.

Our students find themselves in various stages of their development into adulthood, so it is essential to have a wide variety of courses. Exactly what New Heroes offers.” Ayfer:” During his internship, one of our students discovered that his employer was also offering a New Heroes subscription to his employees, thus proving the added value of New Heroes.”

Added value

Are you also taking any courses/learning journeys? Paul: “I have started on two of them, just to find out how it works, but it’s been a while...” Ayfer: “After I've activated my account, I’ll definitely start a course. We currently have twenty lecturers using New Heroes.”

And how do you see the future? Paul: “Our goal is to have all our current first year students able to use New Heroes during their entire education.” Ayfer: “I think a lot of universities are looking into ways to offer 21st century skills. New Heroes is able to provide this. We don’t see New Heroes as a competitor, but rather as a useful and valuable addition to our educational program. Paul: “New Heroes certainly demonstrated their value!”

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