Learning from 18 years of fostering Teaching and Learning innovation
For more than 18 years, ETH has consistently been fostering Teaching and Learning (T&L) innovation through funding provided by Innovedum*. The funded projects have helped to transform teaching practices sustainably both in individual courses and curricula. But what else have we learned from it?
answers the Innovation management group at LET has reflected on how this
innovation process has evolved. We evaluated 15 years of data and arrived at
two key findings. The first is that community building activities (such as our
lunchtime seminars and the Learning and Teaching Fair) have become the basis
for fostering T&L innovation at ETH. These activities bring together
project leaders, faculty members, educational developers and policymakers and
provide a platform for teaching staff to share information and insights gleaned
from their projects. These events are driven by the concept of Scholarship of
Teaching and Learning (SoTL) which aims for systematic reflections on how
individual teaching interventions and innovation projects improve student
learning. We will continue on this path.
finding is that involving students in the innovation cycle has remained a major
challenge. Innovedum has experimented with different approaches (e.g. Student
Innovedum), but the adoption of students’ ideas within the university has
proven to be difficult. So we have started a new project with the teaching
commission, an advisory body of the Executive Board, looking at ways that
students can be better integrated in the process. First results are expected to
be implemented in the Innovedum project cycle in Spring 2020.
(English below) Lehrende können die Dashboard-Bilder ihrer eigenen Kurse selber ändern. Dies lässt sich einfach umsetzen und hilft Studierenden und Lehrenden, ihre Kurse schneller zu finden. Darüber hinaus wird das Dashboard durch individuelle Bilder visuell ansprechender.
Wählen Sie ein Bild, für welches Sie die Copyright-Rechte besitzen oder eines das frei verfügbar ist. Bitte beachten Sie ausserdem, dass die Bilder auf unterschiedlichen Geräten unterschiedlich dargestellt werden. Wählen Sie also ein passendes Motiv.
Ändern Sie die Dateigrösse des Bildes auf ca. 100 KB. Ideal ist das png-Format.
Stellen Sie sicher, dass die Höhe des Bildes 112 Pixel und die Breite nicht mehr als 350 Pixel betragen.
Laden Sie das Bild hoch, indem Sie beim Zahnradsymbol «Einstellungen» wählen, scrollen Sie runter bis zum Feld «Kursbild». Laden Sie die Bilddatei hoch und speichern Sie danach Ihre Änderungen.
wird nun im Dashboard und in den Kursinfos angezeigt.
Customise dashboard images in Moodle
can change the dashboard pictures of their own Moodle courses. This is quick to
do, helps students as well as teachers find their courses faster and brightens
up the dashboards with individualised images.
Select a picture for which you own
the copyright, or which is publicly available. (Please keep in mind, pictures
are displayed differently on every screen, therefore consider selecting an
Resize the image so that it is roughly
100 KB. Ideally use png format.
Ensure the dimensions of your
picture are 112 px tall by no more than 350 pixels wide.
Upload the picture by selecting the
cogwheel in your course, select “edit settings”, then scroll down until you see
the field for “course image”. Upload your file and save.
It will now be displayed on the dashboard of everyone who is enrolled in this course. Watch the video above to see the steps in action.
While this did increase awareness of the potential of involving students in educational innovation and sparked valuable discussions at ETH, the actual projects and ideas of students did not come to fruition as had originally been hoped. Supporting the students would have required more resources than were available and placed a high burden of work on the (already very busy) students.
Therefore it was decided not to continue Student Innovedum in 2019. Instead, it is our intention to continue the discussion with students, the Teaching Commission and the Rector of ETH in order to decide how to best honour the original request of integrating students in educational innovation.
A working group will be looking at the latest literature and other inspiring examples from around the world to consider ways of engaging students more deeply and in more meaningful ways in funded educational innovation projects at ETH.
We are still at the beginning of this process but would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who helped make Student Innovedum happen. This includes the wonderful staff at the Student Project House, the Rector Prof. Dr. Sarah Springmann, Vice-rector Prof. Dr. Andreas Vaterlaus, the members of the Teaching Commission, staff at LET and of course all the students who participated and poured so much passion into the process. Thank you to all and watch this space!
Flash in all its forms will no longer be supported by Adobe or any internet browsers by the end of 2020. This has prompted a clean-up of any Flash files on our own Moodle system. For years Adobe Flash was considered state-of-the-art for interactive web content. As time goes by new standards like html5 and webGL have been established and the Flash technology was shown to be vulnerable to attacks. Therefore it was not surprising that about two years ago Adobe announced the end of Flash by 2020.
Since this announcement, all the big and important webservices like YouTube and Facebook have updated their websites using html5 and other technologies. Therefore, it is likely that in the coming months the newest browser versions will prohibit using Flash by default and some of them will kick this functionality out completely. (Microsoft announcement, Google announcement,Mozilla announcement)
Just as most other universities did, we at ETH have seen a lot of project developed in recent years. Flash has been used to display movies, present animations or create interactive objects and simulations. Latest by the end of 2020, (but probably earlier) these will no longer work.
In the spring of 2019 we had a look at all ETH Moodle courses and contacted teachers who were still using Flash in its various forms. We have found individual solutions for each case and Flash will vanish on our Moodle server in the next weeks. ETH lecturers who use Moodle who have not been contacted by us, should not have any problem with the end of Flash in your Moodle courses. When in doubt please contact us.
100 Days at ETH. An interview with Dr. Gerd Kortemeyer
The new Director of LET, the unit for Educational Development and Technology at ETH, has been at his post for 100 days. We sat down with Dr. Gerd Kortemeyer to find out more about him as a person and his first impressions of Switzerland, ETH and his new role.
We have read your official profile of course, but what would you like to tell us about yourself that might not have been in the profile? How do you spend your time outside of work?
At the moment: watching too
much TV and communicating with my family back in the States and in Munich. As I
am still starting out here, I am usually exhausted at the end of a work day.
What I would like to do is spend more time in nature and taking photos –
photography has been my hobby ever since the days of darkrooms. I have nice
photo gear (Nikon if anybody cares) which currently just sits around collecting
dust. In the States, I used to volunteer for homeless charities by documenting
fundraising events and doing keepsake portraiture for homeless families. I was also
active in our church, taking care of the audiovisual equipment. Lastly, I
started a collaboration with a Tanzanian university of science and technology,
and I would like to pick that up again when I have more time and energy.
small things make your day better?
Coffee. Good food. Walking. I
am not an athlete, but I like walking long distances in nature or around a
beautiful city like Zurich. I like living within walking distance of my
workplace and enjoy the time walking to and from work for processing my day.
you wish your brain was better at doing?
Sitting in one place and
thinking. I am more of a “migrant worker with a laptop.” When I have a big
project, I often have to walk around while thinking. I camp out at random desks
or coffee shops – I work well on the road traveling, but cannot think well
sitting at my desk.
has been both positive and challenging about your move to Switzerland?
Where do I start with
positive impressions; there have been so many. I love how friendly people are. Zurich
is both very Swiss and internationally colorful, a large city that feels like a
village – just an amazing mixture. And nature is incredible. Even after 100
days in Zurich, every time when I come off Seilbahn Rigiblick and see the
panorama, I still go “wow!”.
My greatest challenge is clearly the language! I am not very good with languages, as failed attempts learning French, Russian, and Hebrew prove. Even in English, after 25 years in the USA, I have such a strong German accent that people recognise where I am from after hearing three words. I hope to be able to understand Swiss German more in the foreseeable future.
about your first impressions of ETH and LET?
Immediate impressions: It’s large
and confusing but my colleagues are very welcoming (thank you!) and are clearly
educators at heart. They immediately took it upon themselves to spend a lot of
time and effort educating me through a whole curriculum of introductions to the
wide spectrum of LET’s activities.
your understanding of LET deepened over the last few months?
My impressions after 100
days: it’s still large and confusing. No, seriously, the thing I most had to
wrap my mind around is the unique “matrix structure” at LET which enables collaboration
across the various teams. Many of my colleagues have told me that they enjoy
the variety of their tasks and the collaborative spirit that exists here to
solve problems. I came to appreciate how people just work together across the
different groups. I also appreciate the level of professionalism and expertise;
it’s humbling, and I can only hope to be a good enabler.
LET good at and you hope will never change?
The work of LET is not easy.
Due to the wide spectrum of activities, it is hard to communicate to the
outside what we do and what expertise we have. Outside stresses could easily
lead to internal problems, but I have the impression that that’s not the case.
I am so glad that we seem to have a genuine collaborative spirit, which I hope never
you see as areas of great potential?
We need to be out there at
ETH and find more ways of working alongside all groups of stakeholders. LET can
walk with different groups of stakeholders and facilitate connections between
I make the assumption that
across the institution all of us deeply care about student learning, or we
would work elsewhere. We might disagree how to best accomplish that, but this is
where systematic research and gathering of evidence come into play. How? We
also deeply care about facts and data, or, again, we would work elsewhere.
Fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning is very high on my agenda as
is working with faculty and other stakeholders across the institution. LET is a
service unit, and this service should include guidance, assistance, and
facilitation of educational research within the departments, including the dissemination
of those results.
In addition to the strong expertise we have in the science of learning, we have a strong IT group with creative people, and we are dedicated to fostering innovation. The synergy among them enables practical and applied initiatives as well as the implementation of evidence-based solutions and products. We have the right people and are at the right institution to be a global leader in the systemic approach to the development of next generation tools for teaching and learning. These initiatives can include collaborators all across ETH, and in its unique position, LET can facilitate collaboration.
observations have you been able to make about the field of educational development
and technology in Switzerland as compared to the USA?
As you know, I come from a
background of physics education research. In the States, Discipline-Based
Educational Research (“DBER”) has turned into a “thing.” This “thing” does not
really exist in Europe, partly due to a fundamentally different understanding
of what university education is about, as well as different understandings of
the roles of students and instructors. A lot of what we teach in our workshops
in terms of teaching strategies thus far has been imported from the States, and
I believe it’s time to develop our own European variety of DBER.
Educational Technology plays in a central role in teaching and learning in the States, as flipped, blended, hybrid, and online teaching venues have become mainstream. Thus, technology platforms have become mission-critical. We are not yet at that point in Europe (online exams being a big exception where we are at the cutting edge), but I would like to work on next-generation platforms to scale our efforts and keep up with the inevitable digitalisation of teaching and learning.
Using Polybook to create interactive lecture notes together
As a depository of digital
lecture notes the Polybook has been popular among ETH teaching staff for some
time. In Polybook instructors can enrich conventional lecture material with
interactive elements such as quizzes and videos, and question students on
particularly important material. This increases student engagement with the
material and improves knowledge uptake.
The very name “Polybook” is an
indication of this tool’s many functions and the large number of books and
lecture notes which are stored there.
Using Polybook it is possible to work together on lecture notes or documents and to give them an ordered structure and presentation. Access to individual books is steered via a Moodle link, ensuring that all students in a course have access to its books.
The Polybook is part of LET’s eCollab Service, and can be used in a number of collaborative scenarios. These include:
Author and publish texts collaboratively: In Polybook students can author texts from group or project work either alone or collaboratively, and then make them accessible to others. These texts can be augmented with images or interactive elements such as quizzes and videos. Polybook can also be deployed for preparation or wrap-up of lectures and seminars.
Peer review / peer assessment: Student or working group texts or projects can be exchanged with other student groups and assessed. The results can be used for revision purposes.
Learning journal: Learning processes can be published by students or student groups for purposes of self-reflection or the evaluation of a group process.
Interactive lecture notes: Polybook can be deployed in place of conventional lecture notes, with additional possibilities: students can use interactive elements, or create them themselves; and they can discuss the material via the comments function.
Do you teach at ETH? Have we sparked your interest? How to Polybook contains comprehensive instructions on how you, as teaching faculty, can set up Polybook in Moodle and take the first steps towards collaborative or interactive lecture notes. We would also be happy to provide personal guidance on implementing a collaborative scenario or using Polybook: please contact Melanie Walter, the person responsible for the eCollaboration service. We look forward to working with you.
On January 8, 2019, the ETH Moodle system will be updated to a newer version as well as receive a fresh new look. It aligns more strongly with the ETH corporate design and offers a modernized framework that better supports current browsers and devices.
Moodle is the Learning Management System (LMS) of ETH. The open source online learning platform supports the development, distribution and administration of webbased learning environments thereby promoting interactive learning.
The most important improvements in a nutshell
Once the Moodle webpage is opened, all users will find themselves on the newly designed login page.
After logging in via AAI all users will land on the page called Site Home. Here people are presented with relevant information that is updated from time to time. Examples of such information are improvements to Moodle, important update or maintenance announcements, and links to various LET-Blog entries.
One click on the new «navigation icon» in the top left corner (framed in red) opens and closes the navigation at any point and any location in Moodle. This will help save space, especially on small screens.
On the Dashboard both students and teachers will see all the courses in which they are currently enrolled. Course teachers are able (and encouraged) to set a picture of choice which is then displayed on the dashboard. Courses without their own unique picture will display the default picture, which currently is the ETH main building. The Dashboard is also where urgent messages (such as maintenance announcements) for all users may be displayed.
Inside courses, people with the role of «teacher» will see a cogwheel icon in the top right corner, just under their own names. Selecting this cogwheel will open all the editing and settings functions for the course, including “turn editing on”. In the navigation on the left, teachers can see their list of enrolled course participants under the newly renamed “participants” instead.
An final important note: The Exam Moodle will likely be updated to the new design in April 2019.
Am 8. Januar 2019 erhält die ETH Moodle Plattform ein frisches und modernisiertes Design. Es orientiert sich am Corporate Design der ETH Zürich und bietet einen modernen «Unterbau», der die Darstellung in allen aktuellen Browsern, Tablets und Smartphones unterstützt.
Moodle ist das Learning Management System der ETH. Die Open Source Lernplattform dient der Komposition, Distribution und Administration von webbasierten Unterrichtsumgebungen und fördert interaktive Lehr-/Lernszenarien.
Die wichtigsten Neuerungen des Designs
Beim Aufruf von Moodle werden alle NutzerInnen auf die neugestaltete Login-Seite geleitet.
Nach dem Login über AAI gelangen die NutzerInnen auf die Startseite von Moodle. Sie verfügt über wechselnde Inhalte. Beispiele sind Neuerungen von Moodle, Ankündigungen von Wartungsarbeiten oder Link zu Blog-Beiträgen der Abteilung LET.
Mit einem Klick auf das «Navigations-Icon» oben links (rot umrandet) kann die Navigation jederzeit und an jedem Ort von Moodle ein- und ausgeblendet werden – dies spart insbesondere auf kleinen Bildschirmen Platz.
Auf dem Dashboard finden die NutzerInnen alle Kurse, in denen sie eingeschrieben sind. Dozierende haben die Möglichkeit, das Symbolbildes ihres Kurses individuell auszuwählen. Wird kein eigenes Bild ausgewählt, erscheint das Standard-Bild (aktuell das Bild des ETH-Hauptgebäudes). Auf dem Dashboard finden sich zudem, wenn nötig, wichtige Informationen zum Betrieb von Moodle (z.B. geplante Wartungsarbeiten / Unterbrüche).
DozentInnen finden im Moodle-Kurs unterhalb Ihres Namens im Header das «Zahnrad-Icon». Mit einem Klick darauf öffnen sich alle Bearbeitungs- und Einstellungsoptionen für den Kurs – hinter dem «Zahnrad-Icon» versteckt sich neu das «Bearbeiten einschalten». Links in der Navigation erscheinen bei «Participants» bzw. «Teilnehmer/innen» die im Kurs eingeschriebenen NutzerInnen.
Ein wichtiger Hinweis zum Schluss: Die für Online-Prüfungen genutzte Moodle-Instanz erhält voraussichtlich im April 2019 das neue Moodle-Design.
Wer mehr über Moodle erfahren möchte kann hier weiterlesen.
For several years, the team in the unit of Educational Development and technology (LET) has been inviting and supporting ETH students to share their ideas for enhancing learning here at our institution. Specifically, this has been orchestrated through the annual Student Innovedum programme, where students can develop the seeds of their own ideas into prototypes and fruitful initiatives. Their projects have contributed to discussion all over ETH. This includes within the Students’ Association (VSETH) and the library.
One observation we have made over the years, is that students are incredibly generous with their energy and are willing to make a contribution to the wider learning environment, if they are given space and time to make themselves heard. Therefore, we ask that lecturers considering raising their students’ awareness of the upcoming kick-off event of Student Innovedum on October 3rd, 2018.
At this year’s Student Innovedum, we are asking students to focus on the very learning spaces where they spend so much of their time. Reimagining learning spaces has shown to be of central importance to students. Therefore, we are inviting them to use their experience, perspectives and ideas to develop concrete projects for enhancing learning spaces. These projects can then be shared with the wider ETH community and internal stakeholders at this year’s inaugural Learning and Teaching Fair.
Engaging students actively within and beyond the classroom is an important topic. In a conversation with Polykum, the ETH student magazine, Prof. Dr. Sarah Springman explicitly stated that students should not be shy about sharing their ideas, that they should contribute actively to the campus dialogue. This means that those of us working with students need to continue to open up opportunities for students to become part of meaning discussion. Student Innovedum is one opportunity for ETH to recognise the potential in their ideas and to value their contributions to our community beyond their role as learners, however there is always room for more such spaces.
ETHZ & WSL announce first MOOC on Landscape Ecology
What is a landscape? How has it evolved? How do we perceive landscapes?
In this MOOC participants learn theory, methods and tools to understand the landscapes we live in and to solve landscape-related environmental problems. Leading landscape ecologists present case studies from around the world, where research in landscape ecology is needed, both to improve our understanding of land-use systems and to guide land managers in their decisions.