still from onlineseminar commercial
10-06-2014

article/

Internship report: a NMDC-view as an added value in multiple ways

Abstract: 

As one of many students coming from a University of Applied Sciences starting this Master’s programme, I was a bit skeptical about doing an internship. Why would I need to gain any more practical skills when my goal for this programme was to gain and improve academic skills? It turned out my internship helped me focus on a specific field of interest, gave me a lot of input and motivation for my thesis and last but not least land a job!

My search for an internship went a lot smoother than I thought. Many of the companies I contacted about doing a research internship where very keen on having me (and this is also what I heard from other students). Looking back it makes sense: I believe that interns coming from our Master have a lot to offer in a field where many corporations still have a lot to learn and are struggling to keep up with developments.
 
After having had several interviews with different companies, it was up to me to decide which internship to choose. Instead of ‘being responsible for any companies’ social media’, writing articles for a website or anything like that (this is what I found was the major part of the available internships, even at multinational companies) I chose to do my research internship at OnlineSeminar. This rapidly growing startup company in the center of Amsterdam specializes in webinars and wanted me to get my hands on a hundred of things. After narrowing down my responsibilities we agreed that I was going to focus on making any sense of the big pile of data they had generated over the years.
 
Data of over 1000 webinars and more than 300.000 participants had been logged since the start of OnlineSeminar and now was the time to make it presentable to its clients and use it as a marketing tool. This project has still not come to an end and will probably stay an ongoing process in the existence of the company: With new information, new questions arise. For example: After have presented detailed results and webinar statistics, we also needed to start benchmarking and give insights in how to improve results. Working on this made me see the direct (commercial) value of doing this Master’s programme and an internship: The analysis of this data was not only valuable for OnlineSeminar’s clients, it also gained a lot of insights which were in the benefit of the further development of the webinar tool and customer flow.
 
Next to this I got to be part of the marketing team, which was at the beginning of rebranding the company and its products. The team was assigned an experienced marketing-coach who helped us while we were in a pressure cooker delivering a new brandconcept and various marketingtools to support the sales department. I found this very informative and being coached professionally in this process was a big asset to my internship. On top of this I was asked to stay at OnlineSeminar at the end of my internship.  
 
My internship report finally, was not about the analysis of data. Enthused by doing a lot of reading on the fields of e-learning, webinars, MOOCs et cetera I discovered that OnlineSeminar was just a miniscule part of an evolution of the way people learn and decided to dig deeper and put OnlineSeminar in perspective of this field. I wrote my internship research paper about the tools that are out there to define an ‘effective e-learning course’ and how OnlineSeminar fits in this model. What I soon found was that nor OnlineSeminar nor any of the bigger MOOC-platforms (I used Khan Academy as a casestudy) are any close to living up to the model that is most widely used to set e-learning courses up with. My research internship report did not only benefit OnlineSeminar as it showed points of improvement for the platform and its clients, it also fueled me with information and motivation for my thesis.
 
The field of e-learning felt somewhat undiscovered (at least from a NMDC point of view) and I felt the urge to spend my thesis on a topic which would directly add to this field. As the Dutch minister of Education had just announced to invest in innovating the Dutch system of education (for example by focusing on Massive Online Open Courses) I chose to examine the way students (are able to) reflect on such ‘innovations’. This led to the conclusion that there’s a gap to be found between students’ media literacy and their actual critical reflection on the way media are used in their education: However the respondents claim to be media literate, they ‘outsource’ their obligation to reflect critically on the media used in their education.
 
Summing up, the internship really added to my Master’s degree: Because of it I was able to put the practical field in an academic perspective and it gave me the opportunity to go off the beaten track and discover my own field of interest.
 
Feel free to read my internship research report and Master thesis (both in Dutch)!
Kritische reflectie op ‘innovatie’ in het Nederlandse WO-onderwijs (MA Thesis)
This is for everyone (research internship report)