Fronteer Sunrise #3: Co-creating the future for MBO Education

Kick-starting the day with breakfast ideas

Early March, just before the Corona crisis, we hosted our third breakfast session better known as the ‘Fronteer Sunrise’. This event focuses on bringing together kindred spirits to talk about topics that drive us in our daily work. A morning filled with inspiration and interaction: to exchange ideas and talk about a shared challenge. Because; what better way to start your day than to celebrate the sunrise and share inspiration and experiences over breakfast?

#3 Innovating Education 

This edition focused on the topic of education. The world (of work) is changing at a rapid pace due to globalisation, sustainability, digitalisation and automatisation. This will have a major impact on future jobs and the corresponding education – especially when we are talking about vocational education. Teachers, directors and other staff members all know: it’s time to innovate to stay relevant, appealing and future-proof. The way forward is to collaborate with professionals, experts and companies. But the question is: how? This leads us to the topic of this event: what holds back innovation in education? What is needed to succeed?

A shared challenge

We live by the adage: “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.” We believe, that by bringing like-minded people together and creating a network of professionals with a shared challenge, real value can be added for the future of the education system. We got a group of directors from different ROC’s (Regional Educational Centre) around our breakfast table and kick-started the discussion with talks from two experts on education innovation. Jan-Willem Tijl from Zadkine shared his journey on creating The 010 E-com Academy and Mark van Rijn from Youngworks took us through the mind and perceptions of present-day students.  

Education Digest

So let’s review some key insights from our morning discussions:

  • Self-restriction
    One of the main reasons for slow innovation is that educators ‘hold themselves back’. In a sector with great potential for improvements, there are plenty of opportunities for ideas. This thought on innovation and growth ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’ very much applies to innovation within the education sector. Rather than the set of rules and regulations at play, it is the mindset and current way of working that truly stands in the way of innovation. Applying a design way of thinking, as Jan-Willem Tijl did, is just one of the new ways of thinking. 
  • Crossing discipline boundaries
    Essential for making innovation work is a great team performance and this requires ‘selecting the best’ (this is #2 in the 5 guiding principles of co-creation). In this case: other like-minded (and pragmatic) education innovators. In order to succeed with creating new programmes, a cross-disciplinary team is essential. So besides teachers, people responsible for the building or the schedules should also be included. 
  • Connecting to businesses
    Mixing education and business can create better learning experiences. Businesses can offer practical exercises through cases and internships, or state of the art knowledge through lectures. Unfortunately, the ROC’s (The Dutch vocational education institutions) are having a hard time creating a lasting relationship with businesses in the field. The challenge is to turn short term enthusiasm into long-lasting (small) contributions.
  • The student’s perspective
    Very important, but not always incorporated into the redesign of education is the student. These young students (16-19 years old) have big worries and challenges when choosing a (vocational) education programme. Most of them are not actively busy with their future or are not guided through this process. Researching their needs, or even better: co-creating with them could help with the development of education and the corresponding communication.
  • Transition is the ‘new normal state’ of education
    In the end, one thing is for sure: education is never static, it’s always dynamic. This is probably the reason for many educators to work in the industry that they sometimes hate, but very often love. The world is always in transition, so education should be that too. Embracing that thought as an innovator means you’re halfway. 

Stay tuned for more information about Fronteer’s education work. A separate website focusing on Fronteer’s Education Practice will be up soon. Interested to know more about Jean School, the 010 Ecom Academy or our approach to innovation in MBO? Drop me a line at or contact our education lead,