Corona - What's up
RWU does not stand still even in these extraordinary days and weeks. In many places new solutions are being worked on with commitment and creativity. With the series "Corona - What's up", we want to focus not only on what is currently not possible, but especially on what's up.
Lectures at universities in Baden-Württemberg are suspended until 19th April. Whether the summer semester can begin after this date, nobody can say with certainty at the moment. How is the teaching at RWU dealing with this?
The buildings are almost deserted, and there are no classroom courses. But a closer look reveals that there is no sign of a standstill. "We are working flat out to expand our digitalized teaching facilities," reports RWU's Didactics Officer, Professor Dr. Jörg Wendorff.
Over 250 participants in the first webinars
However, making digital learning opportunities available requires not only the technology but also the willingness to use it. Jochen Weißenrieder from the didactics team adds: "We currently offer webinars to qualify teachers and students for these new methods. The first three webinars alone attracted a total of over 250 participants.
A fortunate fact is that RWU had already been pushing the topic of e-learning in previous years and had created the technical prerequisites for it. In addition, a didactics team has been set up, which is now investing all of its efforts in supporting the professors and is also integrating additional digital tools into the program.
Stress test for virtual lecture hall
"Even though it is normally possible to supplement classroom teaching with digital offerings in a meaningful way, but not to replace it, the current framework conditions lead to an attempt to conduct teaching completely online for a certain period of time", says Franziska Preiß. Thus, various programs are used at RWU: the learning platform Moodle offers support for cooperative teaching and learning methods. Working materials are made available and digital learning activities are promoted. The Mahara software is used for personal e-portfolios. In the learning-centered system, students can manage their own learning goals and plans, collect files and create learning diaries.
A new tool at RWU is BigBlueButton. This conference software serves as a "virtual lecture hall" and is already being used for meetings in university administration. In order to better assess the performance of this new system, a university-wide "stress test" was called for. Over 800 students joined several digital conferences at the same time. For a short time, the system almost went down on its knees. "The stress test revealed existing problems. Now we can expand further to enable the digital lectures," reports Paul Spieß, who accompanied the test as a student assistant in the computer center.
Digital teaching scenarios that will also be used after the Corona crisis
The Applied Psychology course has been offering its lectures online since 23 March. The course director Professor Dr. Silvia Queri and her three colleagues have developed a concept for this. "Online lectures are supplemented by digital documents as well as tasks that the students have to complete online," says Silvia Queri.
But with every new solution, new questions arise. For example, the technical and administrative framework for e-exams must first be created and the legal aspects clarified. Another task is to prepare the content in several languages for the many international students at RWU. According to Martin Preußentanz of the Didactics Team, there is still no fully developed concept for laboratory and practical courses.
Digital teaching and learning scenarios are unlikely to replace classroom teaching in the long term. But in the current situation, they are a valuable alternative and will certainly find their application in a period after the corona crisis.