Talk Lehre 2018 – Digitalization in Academics

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Michael Heuters

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Talk Lehre was held for the eighth time this year – on June 6, 2018, in the foyer and Otto Fuchs lecture hall at the C.A.R.L. lecture hall complex. This year the focus of the event was on the digital transformation with respect to teaching and learning at university level. Digitalization not only progressively changes the way knowledge is imparted, but it also makes modifications to university infrastructures necessary while at the same time offering various new options in the way of digital teaching and learning formats.

RWTH Aachen was very happy to have been awarded the Genius Loci prize for excellence in teaching by the Stifteverband der Deutschen Wissenschaft for its comprehensive institutional teaching strategy and subsequent exemplary implementation. The associated prize money was put to good use by inviting a Visiting Scholar of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. With Malte Persike from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, RWTH Aachen was delighted to find an expert in the field of statistics, empirical methods and digitalization in teaching and learning to act as a guest speaker at Talk Lehre 2018.

  Malte Persike at the 2018 Talk Lehre event Copyright: Andreas Schmitter Malte Persike

The event with approximately 200 guests and unversity members began with short welcoming speeches by RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg and Student Council chairman Justus Schwarzrott. Frank Hees then took over to guide the audience through the rest of the conference program and to moderate the panel discussions associated with the different lectures.

In his presentation, Malte Persike was able to show with the help of empirical data on digitally supported forms of teaching that students do not necessarily always profit when digital learning formats are being used or that learning success can be taken for granted. Empirically, learning with digital media does not show any systematic advantages over traditional learning settings. Vital for the success of Blended Learning is most notably the skilled combination of digital elements and learning activities in a classroom setting as well as the formats and methods chosen – for instance think-pair-share or audience response systems.

Professor Heribert Nacken took stock of RWTH Aachen's digitalization strategy so far, which aims to support the university's goal of being modern, innovative, and forward-looking while offering an attractive learning environment for national and international students alike. This is to be accomplished with the help of a variety of measures including the creation of a designated center for teaching and learning services, the RWTH learning platform Moodle, or the Exploratory Teaching Space program. All the different groups of university members are to be addressed and included to the same extent.

  A group of six people – three of them holding certificates into the camera Copyright: Andreas Schmitter

The title "RWTH Lecturer" was awarded this year to Holger Ketteniß, Oliver Pooth, and Lars Schreiber – three researchers at RWTH Aachen who have distinguished themselves through outstanding achievements in teaching while also being very engaged in scholarly research. The prizes were awarded by Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development, Professor Doris Klee.

The Awardees
Dr. Holger Ketteniß Chair of Management Accounting
PD Dr. Oliver Pooth Chair of Experimental Physics III B and 3rd Institute of Physics
Dr. Lars Schreiber Institute for Quantum Information
 
  Copyright: Andreas Schmitter Approximately 200 guests and university members attended the 2018 Talk Lehre event

Poster exhibit on selected topics

During break, the participants of the conference were able to get caught up on a number of notable RWTH projects, such as the university’s own Exploratory Teaching Space or the fellowship for innovation in digital university teaching, which is awarded by the Stifterverband der Deutschen Wissenschaft. At the same time, the poster exhibition offered plenty of opportunities for discussion, networking and sharing of information among the participants.

Best-Practice Examples on digitalization in teaching

Following the poster exhibit, further presentations highlighted selected projects and examples of best practices at RWTH Aachen.

Marcus Gerards and Mazdak Karami introduced the new e-testing system at RWTH Aachen called DYNEXITE. This online platform enables instructors to create individualized learning tasks and tests and offers a more efficient and legally informed option of designing exams that are oriented along educational objectives. During the semester, students already have the option of independently applying what they have learned while at the same time checking on their learning progress with the help of the automated evaluation tool.

Professor Baumann used a varety of hands-on tasks to give the particpants of Talk Lehre a vivid and good idea about how difficult it is to apply or put into action deliberate explanations or information about steps in a process that are given only verbally. In cross-disciplinary groups or teams in particular, it is a real challenge for the members, who oftentimes have different levels of knowledge or other ways of communicating, to come to an agreement on wording,

With the Micro Bachelor, Steffen Jöris presented a digitalized offering that can be used by students to prepare for the Master's program in Theology and Global Development. Already prior to taking up studies in the program, students are thereby able to complete required classes or they might fulfill additional requirements that potentially have been imposed in order to even be admitted to the degree program. The e-learning class thus allows the students to carry out their studies without any further delays.

Finally, Professor Gabriele Gramelsberger from the chair of Philosophy of Science and Technology addressed the question how digitalization in the sciences can be investigated and how it can be communicated in the classroom. The problem is, among others, that researchers who merely posess an amateurish level of knowledge with respect to digitalization also need to have access to the methods of digital science. It is still unclear, however, whether a common approach can in fact be found for everyone, regardless of discipline, and whether such digital methods will possibly standardize research processes.

For photos about the event check out our Talk Lehre 2018 picture gallery.