This is what higher professional education can learn from Apple Music, Greenwheels and

According to Jean Luc Laval of TinQwise, the perspective of producer and purchaser is used too often in higher professional education, whereas service to the student should be central. What if we use the same techniques and methods Apple Music, Greenwheels or Thuisbezorgd use? What would education be like then?

Home at last. After a long day of meetings at various locations, I flopped onto the sofa. A few minutes earlier, I had locked the Greenwheels and walked to my home. Hardly remembering I had used a car, I ordered a pizza quatro stagioni.

‘Okay, Siri. Play this week’s Top 10,’ I said to my iPhone, which lay on the sofa. Two seconds later, I heard Siri’s reassuring words: ‘Okay, Jean-Luc. Here we go!’ Marvellous! Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. Pizza!

With Apple Music you can choose what you want to listen to and when.

Blended learning

The meetings on that day were about changing higher professional education on the basis of modern-day demands. What are the needs of students, teachers and staff? What can we change in the teaching methods and what are the needs involved? It is generally called ‘blended learning’.

Blended learning is the realm of ‘fun tools’ like Mentimeter, Kahoot and Socrative, a good ELE (electronic learning environment), MOOCs (Massive Open Online Communities) or Moodle. Sometimes it is about the content of the lesson, but it is hardly ever about the users (the student and teacher).

I think this is because we do not regard education as a service to the student yet, but rather as a product that is bought. Quite strange, actually.

Just imagine...

Apple Music

‘Okay, Siri. Play this week’s Top 40.’ ‘Sorry, Jean-Luc. This is only possible on Tuesday afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m., and it will only be the Top 40 of 2004.’

Can you imagine? I pay for it. It is a service that knows me and that is therefore customised to my wishes and preferences. We still consider the next scenario normal, however.

‘I want to take my statistics course on Wednesday morning, so that I can do sports in the afternoon.’ ‘That’s not possible, unfortunately. The course is on Wednesday afternoon. Everybody has to attend. If you don’t, you will miss some of the information required for the exam and fail the exam.’

I want to order something for dinner, but the French fries and hamburger are not delivered. Potatoes and beans are all I can get, precisely on a day I fancy something savoury instead of eating healthy food.

For a meal delivery service, this would be ridiculous. This does not apply to Thuisbezorgd, however, where I can order anything I want. So why is this so difficult at school?

‘I understand the statistics now. I would like to know more about the practical side of things. How to apply this knowledge in practice? How do professionals use it?’
‘The work placement is in the third year. Every now and then, we do have guest speakers visiting us. For the time being you should learn from the textbook and pass the test. If you do, you can do a work placement next year and practise what you have learned.’


I want a Greenwheels to drive to the builder’s merchant’s, but only a Ferrari is available. Well, I don’t really need a Ferrari, to be honest.

Not imaginable either!
But this is reality:

‘All information is in your report, but the table of contents of your portfolio does not meet the requirements. Consequently, we cannot mark the report, and you have failed. It is very unpleasant, but we have to comply with the rules or we may lose our registration as a higher professional education institute.’

So how should it be?

What would happen if we considered education a service too? A service that is created for the client and meets the client’s – in this case the student’s – demands? What if we use the same techniques and methods Apple Music, Greenwheels or Thuisbezorgd use? What would education be like then?

Design thinking

At TinQwise, we think from a target group perspective and use methods such as Design Thinking and Service Design. In this approach, it is essential that the target group is the starting point. Who are they? What motivates them? What are their interests? What do they need? What problems do they face? Questions like these are the basis of the solution to be developed. This is an entirely different approach than starting at learning objectives, competencies, rules and conditions, portfolio tables of contents and thinking of what the client actually needs next.

The target group wants to have tailor-made, flexible and personal education, not based on time or place. If we think more like Apple Music, and Greenwheels, this will really be possible. Let’s follow through!

Like to know more?

At TinQwise, we have helped various educational institutes in developing their teaching methods. For instance, SVO vocational training ‘Food’, Fontys Venlo (international business school), and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences (healthcare & well-being) have used service design. Several other educational institutes have visited us for an inspiration session about this subject.

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