VodafoneZiggo colleagues regularly volunteer to go to schools and teach a lesson from the Online Masters programme, which helps children understand digital life better. Barbara de Koning Gans, Executive Director of Customer Operations at VodafoneZiggo, talks about her guest lesson.

It’s a quarter to nine on a Wednesday morning. The bell sounds, and the pupils in Year 7 at Ludger School in Utrecht all run outside into the playground before their Online Masters starts.

The first pupil tells me, ‘I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a little while. I can’t be in two place at once, which is a shame. If I'd known, I wouldn't have said that my wrist was hurting so much.’ A good start to our adventure with this enthusiastic, active Year-7 group.

Today, I’ll be playing teacher, together with colleague Wietse. This day is organised in the context of the partnership between VodafoneZiggo and JINC. The latter is a foundation that advocates that a child's background mustn’t limit their future, a mission that VodafoneZiggo and myself support passionately. It’s important that everyone is able to dream what they’ll be when they grow up, regardless of gender, origin, age, etc.

During the lesson, we talk about what it’s like to work for a large company such as VodafoneZiggo. We ask the children which jobs they find interesting. Do you want to be the Scrooge McDuck of VodafoneZiggo? Or the technician who gets people’s Wi-Fi working in their homes? Or is working in a store more your thing? The children listen enthusiastically and clearly express their preferences about what they want to do when they grow up. 

We talk to the children about their own digital lives: their favourite apps, what they learn from TikTok, and how much time they all spend online per day. That varied considerably; from 24/7 (with even the dog watching too) to less than an hour a day. An interesting dialogue then arises from the perspectives of acting tough and being online a lot. The ultimate conclusion is that playing outside with friends and being with others is actually best.

We also look together at what the future will bring. Printed houses and pets? Is that what we want? Can you really live in such a place? Printed organs? Do they work? Fortunately, TV news programmes for kids in the Netherlands such as the Jeugdjournaal and Klokhuis already cover a lot of these subjects, because the children talk a lot. One asks us if we can bring a 3D-printed heart next time…

We conclude with an assessment; the children give us a mark. That's the world upside down! Fortunately, we get some respectable scores. But there was also a criticism; one of the prize pens didn’t work. To round things off, a pupil asks if we want to return next month. Well, boys and girls in Class 7, thanks for your attention, honesty and time.

Barbara de Koning Gans, Executive Director of Customer Operations