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Transportation Sciences

MOOC: a sneak peek into the future of mobility

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MOOC: a sneak peek into the future of mobility    Aug 12, 2016

MOOC: a sneak peek into the future of mobility
Aug 12, 2016

Filming for a Hasselt University MOOC, Prof. Dr Tom Bellemans demonstrated to the cameras some fundamental principles in the field of transportation. “In the module ‘Transportation policy assessment’, we examine the impact of policy measures on transport and traffic. What is the effect of a specific policy measure? Can we predict the impact of that policy measure before implementing it? That is the key question we aim to answer.” With the modules ‘Urban planning’ and ‘Impact of mobility on environment’ already recorded, the MOOC of the Bachelor/Master Transportation Sciences is starting to take shape.

Hasselt University's first MOOC focuses on the course ‘Transport Systems & Transport Policy’ of the preparatory programme of the master in Transportation Sciences. The course covers several topics, such as ‘Urban planning’ and ‘Impact of mobility on environment’. In the ‘Transport policy assessment’ module of the course, Prof. Dr Tom Bellemans devotes attention to the interaction between policy and transport and traffic situations.

“Each policy measure impacts traffic. Take a look at the mileage tax for trucks. By implementing this policy measure, the government wanted to tackle congestion and CO2-emissions. Experts doubted whether the policy measure would have the desired effect. They claimed that the measure would only produce the desired effect when road pricing for private cars is introduced along with the mileage tax for trucks. Is it possible to predict the effect of a policy measure before implementation? In other words, can we prevent the ‘oops-feeling’?”, said Tom Bellemans.

Prof. dr. Tom Bellemans introduces the students into the world of activity-based transport models. “Every day, millions of people travel to work, to school or to the gym. We collect their data in order to build activity-based models.” Such models simulate (a number of) trips and map a full day and activity pattern of an individual. By testing policy measures in a (simulated) reality, the transport model can support policy makers in taking policy decisions.

Completing a final assignment for each module

After attending this course, the students must show that they thoroughly grasp the material. “We interrogate the students and give them a final assignment. That way, we can determine that the students understand the material and that they are able to apply it. Within this specific module, the students receive five possible policy measures. They select one policy measure, which they have to examine. On what facets does that measure have an impact? Which transport models can be used to solve this issue? Which criteria should be used to evaluate the policy measure?”, said dr. Mario Gielen, project manager and educational advisor at IMOB.