Category: Projects

Pilot am D-INFK: Blended Learning Kurs “Didactic Basics for Student Teaching Assistants”

Als wichtiger Bestandteil von innovativer Lehre an der ETH Zürich, haben sich Online-Lernangebote in den letzten Jahren stetig weiterentwickelt. Vor allem der Ansatz des Blended Learning sowie das Konzept des Flipped Classroom, mit der Verknüpfung von Online-Selbstlernphasen und kooperativem Präsenzlernen gewinnen immer mehr an Bedeutung. 

Die didaktische Ausbildung für studentische Lehrassistierende an der ETH Zürich nimmt diesen Trend auf und setzt ihn zielgruppenorientiert um: Daher befindet sich das Kursangebot derzeit im Wandel – aus einer klassischen Präsenzveranstaltung soll zukünftig ein Blended Learning Kursangebot für alle Hilfsassistierenden mit Lehraufgaben entstehen. 

Zur didaktischen Ausbildung von Hilfsassistierenden bietet das LET seit vielen Jahren entsprechende Kurse an, bei denen das Lernen zu ca. 80% in Präsenz und ca. 20% des Lernens online stattfindet. Da die didaktischen Kurse für Lehrassistierenden immer besser besucht werden und die Skalierung der Präsenzkurse eine natürliche Grenze hat, wurde vor einiger Zeit mit der Konzeptplanung eines Blended Formats begonnen. Nach eigenen Videoproduktionen und mehrmaligen Feedbackschleifen mit ehemaligen Lehrassistierenden konnte ein erster Pilot im Sommer 2019 fertiggestellt und im HS 2019 für die Hilfsassistierenden am D-INFK angeboten werden. Für die erste Durchführung entschieden wir uns, Präsenzkurs und Onlinekurs parallel anzubieten und die Studierenden selbst aussuchen zu lassen, welches Format sie bevorzugen: Für den neuen Blended Learning Kurs am D-INFK registrierten sich 88 Teilnehmende, während am “klassischen” Präsenzkurs lediglich 16 Studierende teilnahmen. Bereits an dieser Verteilung beim Pilotkurs wird deutlich, dass die Lehrassistierenden ein flexibles Format bevorzugen, wie wir dies mit dem neuen Blended Learning Kurs “Didactic Basics for Student Teaching Assistants” anbieten. Bei dem neuen Kurskonzept ist das Verhältnis zwischen Online- und Präsenzlernen genau umgekehrt zum bisherigen Konzept: ca. 80% des Lernens findet nun online anhand von Lernvideos und anderen Online-Lernmaterialien statt, während der Transfer des Gelernten in einem Präsenztermin umgesetzt wird und weiterhin Peer Hospitationen (gegenseitige Unterrichtsbesuche) stattfinden, die zusammen ca. 20% des Gesamtaufwands für die Teilnehmenden ausmachen.

Die Online-Lernumgebung in Moodle stand den angemeldeten Teilnehmenden zum Beginn des Herbstsemester 2019 zur Verfügung und begann mit einer dreiwöchigen Startphase, um den unterschiedlichen Anstellungszeitpunkten von Hilfsassistierenden gerecht werden zu können. Nach dieser Ankunftsphase wurden dann im wöchentlichen Rhythmus die vier Kapitel des Online-Kurses veröffentlicht.

Die vier Kapitel des Onlinekurses beinhalten die folgenden didaktischen Themengebiete: 

  • Getting started with your course planning
  • Presentation and communication in class 
  • Activating students in class
  • Feedback & Assessment 

Im ersten Teil des Kurses reflektierten die Teilnehmenden ihre Rolle als Hilfsassistierende und erstellten einen Plan für eine Übungsstunde mit den dazugehörenden Lernzielen. Die Basis für die Erreichung der jeweilige Kompetenzstufe in den Kapiteln wurde durch vom LET produzierte Videos und mit den Videos verknüpften Aufgabenstellungen geschaffen.  Mit Ausnahme vom dritten Kapitel enthält jedes Kapitel 1-3 Videos, welche wichtige Inputs zu den jeweiligen Hauptthemen geben. Am Ende von jedem Kapitel gab es zudem eine Reflexionsaufgabe, die eine individuelle Rückschau der Hilfsassistierenden auf Ihre wichtigsten Erkenntnisse ermöglicht und mit der eine Konsolidierung des Wissens erreicht werden soll.  

Nach Abschluss der vierwöchigen Onlinephase fanden mehrere Transferworkshops in Form von Mittagsveranstaltungen in Kleingruppen mit jeweils 20-23 Personen statt. An diesen Präsenzterminen hatten die Hilfsassistierenden die Möglichkeit, die Lerninhalte aus der Onlinephase zu vertiefen und mit Peers sowie den Kursleitenden zu diskutieren. Zudem wurden am Präsenztermin Tandems für die Peer-Hospitation gebildet, deren Ergebnisse wiederum online präsentiert und diskutiert werden.

Bei den Transferworkshops wurden die Lerninhalte aus dem Onlinekurs mit eigenen Erfahrungen in der Lehre verglichen und gegenseitiges Feedback zu individuellen Lösungsansätzen der Aufgabenstellungen, wie z.B. dem Lesson Plan für eine Übungsstunde gegeben. Zum Abschluss des Onlinekurses wurde eine finale Reflexionsaufgabe gestellt, um den Hilfsassistierenden die Möglichkeit zu geben, ihre neue Sicht auf das Lehren und Lernen in Übungen in eigene Worte zu fassen, diese mit der vorhergehenden Sichtweise zu vergleichen und den Kurs in seiner Gesamtheit nochmals Revue passieren zu lassen. 

Insgesamt beinhaltet der Onlinekurs zehn schriftliche Leistungsnachweise, welche von den Teilnehmenden arbeitet und eingereicht werden müssen. Zusätzlich gehören die beiden Onlinebefragungen am Anfang und am Ende der Kurses, die Teilnahme am Transferevent und die Peer-Hospitation ebenfalls zu den Pflichtaufgaben des Kurses. Die Deadline für die Abgabe aller Leistungsnachweise steht noch bevor. Aus diesem Grund ist noch keine Aussage darüber möglich, über wie viele Lehrassistierenden den Onlinekurs erfolgreich bestanden haben. 

Die grosse Herausforderung bei der Erstellung eines Onlinekurses ist die Vorausplanung. Der gesamte Kurs sowie sämtliche Materialien und Abläufe müssen vor Kursbeginn vollständig feststehen. Aufgaben und Leistungsnachweise sollten von Anfang an klar definiert sein, damit die Teilnehmenden den Arbeitsaufwand einschätzen können. Eine weitere wichtige Überlegung ist die der Kommunikation zwischen Kursleitenden und Teilnehmenden: Wie soll die Kommunikation erfolgen? Innerhalb von welchem Zeitraum können die Teilnehmenden mit einer Rückmeldung rechnen? Wie bewerkstelligen wir die Rückmeldungen bei einer Vielzahl an Teilnehmenden? Klar festgesetzte Regelungen sind notwendig, um den reibungslosen Ablauf des Blended Learning Kurses zu gewährleisten. Zusammengefasst muss eine klare Struktur, vordefinierte Prozesse und eine sorgfältige Vorausplanung gegeben sein, um einen Onlinekurs erfolgreich durchführen zu können. 

Anhand des positiven Feedbacks der Teilnehmenden sehen wir in Blended Learning Kursen eine neue Perspektive für didaktische Kursangebote an der ETH Zürich. Zudem haben wir festgestellt, dass der Onlinekurs hinsichtlich Ablauf und Struktur noch weiterentwickelt und ausgebaut werden muss. Beispielsweise haben sich die teilnehmenden Studierenden gewünscht, dass gewisse Inhalte des Kurses bereits zu einem früheren Zeitpunkt freigeschaltet werden sollen, damit die Teilnehmenden diese bereits für ihre erste Übungsstunde als Lehrassistierenden einsetzen können. Die stärkere Orientierung an der Lehrpraxis der Teilnehmenden steht daher ganz oben auf unserer Agenda für die Weiterentwicklung des hybriden (Verknüpfung von Online- und Präsenzlernen) Kursangebots.

Ausblick

Für das Frühjahrssemester 2020 ist geplant, den Blended Learning Kurs für Hilfsassistierende aus anderen Departementen anzubieten. Inhaltlich soll die Transferveranstaltung verlängert werden, um ein Microteaching (Simulation von Unterrichtssituationen) einbauen zu können und den Kurs damit noch praxis- und transferorientierter gestalten zu können. Ein weiterer wichtiger Bestandteil der Weiterentwicklung des Onlinekurses ist die Produktion von weiteren Videos zu verschiedenen Themen der Hochschullehre. Dabei setzen wir den Akzent auf realitätsnahe Inhalte, in denen didaktische Themen anhand von realen Unterrichtssituationen erklärt werden. Didaktische Themen sollen daher auch zukünftig weder durch Animationsvideos noch durch idealisierte oder nachgespielte Unterrichtssequenzen thematisiert werden, sondern anhand von realen Situationen aus unterschiedlichen Übungen und Lehrveranstaltungen. Diese realitätsnahe Form von Lernvideos findet sich bislang eher selten, da es nicht einfach ist, die komplexen sozialen Interaktionen im Unterricht zu extrahieren und aufzuzeigen. Unserer Erfahrung nach haben jedoch die realen Unterrichtssituationen einen stärkeren Lerneffekt als nachgespielte Szenen. Und die Rückmeldungen der Studierenden bestätigen diese Überlegung, weshalb wir überzeugt sind, dass sich der Aufwand für diese Art von selbstproduzierten Videos aus pädagogisch-didaktischen Gründen langfristig auszahlen wird.


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“Less content might result in more learning.” Recent didactic course graduates reflect.

Twice a year the programme “Teaching at ETH: Committed and skilled” helps Assistant Professors to implement evidence-based teaching ideas in their classroom teaching. We asked the most recent group to reflect on the most important thing they learned.

Newly appointed Assistant Professors are quickly faced with a range of new tasks they are expected to master. Often without significant introduction, they are expected to develop budgets, plan and teach courses, manage financial acquisitions and hire and train staff in various skills – all the while conducting research and writing publications. The pressure is high as they keep their eye on the prize, namely tenure.

“Teaching at ETH: Committed and skilled” gives Assistant Professors the opportunity to invest some rare time in developing their teaching skills, which for many is a new area of expertise. During the programme’s classroom phase they are introduced to key pedagogical concepts and encouraged to put these into practice in their own teaching environments. They then meet in small groups to discuss their teaching goals and challenges, where they have a chance to give and receive feedback on their ideas and teaching practice.

Over time, not only do their teaching skills develop; many of their previously held beliefs about teaching and learning also change. This was reflected in the latest group’s answers when we asked: “What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to the next course participants?”

Assistenzprofessorin am Departement Gesundheitswissenschaften und Technologie

Prof. Dr Simone Schürle-Finke responded with this gem: 

“Less content might result in more learning. I feel it is one of the hardest aspects of teaching – and I’m still learning, since as passionate scientists we want to tell and teach the students everything. But instead we should shift focus to enable them and give them the tools to learn by themselves, to feel ownership of their knowledge, to critically think and be motivated for self-learning.” 

Interested? The next “Teaching at ETH” programme starts in January 2020. Read more.

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Does anything ever happen after those teaching evaluation surveys?

Maybe you know the problem. You want feedback on your teaching from your students. You want to know what they think went well, and what didn’t. Maybe you need their evaluations for future job applications. In whatever case, in your evaluation a more or less representative amount of feedback and number of ratings would come in handy. But your students are sick of evaluations! They wonder why they have to fill something out which will be of no use to them, and nothing ever comes of evaluations anyway… .

So the muttering of students. However, something actually does happen with student evaluations – even if most students aren’t aware of it. It is rare that someone attends a course twice, and there is little opportunity to find out whether lecturers have implemented their students’ wishes. Therefore, to let students and others know what happens after a questionnaire is submitted and why evaluations are important to teaching quality, we have created a 3-minute video with the help of Youknow (specialists in explainer videos). Please show this video to your students and motivate them to take part in the survey! This is especially useful if you have the opportunity to conduct the evaluation in class.[1]

The challenge for us was to explain the entire comprehensive, stringent evaluation process from survey via publication of findings to deduction of appropriate measures briefly and appealingly. A bigger challenge was to be responsive to students and take their criticisms seriously, while also dignifying the engagement of most lecturers. Whether and how well we have achieved this in three minutes of moving images is yours to decide!


[1] By in class evaluation we mean that you programmed the time your evaluation survey will be send out to students, and you ask them during your lecture time to fill in the survey, via their laptop or smartphone.

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ICED 2020 @ ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is to host a global conversation about how higher education will look in the future, and how universities should prepare.

In June 2020 the biennial conference of the International Consortium of Educational Developers (ICED) will take place at ETH Zurich. The theme of the conference, “The Future-Ready Graduate”, was chosen to inspire higher educational institutions, their faculty and educational developers to reflect on emerging global trends and to consider the changes needed to adjust higher education to new realities as they develop.

What does the future hold? This question has fascinated humans for eons. Many of our questions about the future are unanswerable. However, we can make some educated predictions. Industry leaders are asking themselves how global trends will affect their domains – and so is the education sector.

We live in a permanently changing society which requires new didactic approaches and innovative education concepts. How can teaching staff prepare students for this uncertain future? How will universities adjust to new realities in higher education? What do faculty members need if they are to offer suitable learning experiences that prepare students for changing scenarios?

These topics and more will be addressed at the ICED 2020 conference. The First Call for submissions is now open. It invites potential presenters to share their experiences and to explore the deep and searching questions in the conference sub-themes.

In order to enhance this conversation, students are explicitly invited to participate. ETH is sponsoring 4-6 students from around the world to attend and speak at the conference and student voices will be included in the form of a video at the beginning of the conference. The process for submitting a video or for nominating a student ambassador is described on the ICED 2020 website.

We hope that ICED 2020 conference contributions will provide both inspiration and practical pathways for faculty, administrators and educational developers as they seek to respond to changing future scenarios.

ETH teaching staff can contact LET staff members if they would like to discuss a potential contribution.

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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?

To find 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.

The second 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.

For a closer look, please check out the paper which was presented at the EdMedia conference in Amsterdam in July 2019.

Also, if you are an ETH faculty member, we invite you to the Refresh Teaching series, one of the community building activities mentioned above.

*Innovedum is a brand established by the Rector including project funding and community building activities open to all stakeholders of T&L. www.innovedum.ethz.ch

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Dashboard-Bilder in Moodle anpassen

(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.

Vorgehen

  1. 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.
  2. Ändern Sie die Dateigrösse des Bildes auf ca. 100 KB. Ideal ist das png-Format.
  3. Stellen Sie sicher, dass die Höhe des Bildes 112 Pixel und die Breite nicht mehr als 350 Pixel betragen.
  4. 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.

Das Bild wird nun im Dashboard und in den Kursinfos angezeigt.

Demo video

Customise dashboard images in Moodle

Teachers 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.

Steps

  1. 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 abstract picture).
  2. Resize the image so that it is roughly 100 KB. Ideally use png format.
  3. Ensure the dimensions of your picture are 112 px tall by no more than 350 pixels wide.  
  4. 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.

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Student Innovedum inspires deeper student engagement

It was some years ago, that the Teaching Commission asked LET (the unit for Educational Development and Technology at ETH) to consider ways to involve student in teaching and learning innovation.

In response, the programme “Student Innovedum” was specifically developed. Students were invited to develop prototypes of their own ideas over the duration of a semester. It ran for three years and the results of the student projects were presented each year at the annual Innovedum event and the Learning and Teaching Fair.

A group of students stand facing the camera.
2019 Participants. Photo by Heidi Hofstettler

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! 

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Flash apocalypse

(image credit: http://catayst.net.nz/flashapocalypse)

Flash

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)

Apocalypse?

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.

If you are using flash in other websites, we recommend following the “three f”-model presented by Nikki Sinclair from Catalyst: https://catalyst.net.nz/blog/3fs-surviving-flash-apocalypse

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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.

Gerd looks into the camera smiling, pointing to his coffee cup. On his cup are the words "without coffee, without me" in German.

What 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.

What do 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.

What 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.

Tell us 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.

How has 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.

What is 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 changes.

What do 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 them.

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.

What 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.

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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.

From Data Collection to finished Excursion Report

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.

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