Teaching: from analogue to digital

Have fun as you learn instead of a lecturer's monologue - digital elements can loosen things up. But the switch from paper lecture notes to multimedia teaching demands new media literacy from lecturers and students alike.

Marcel Schmidt would rather not bother with printers and copiers. "My aim is to complete my studies without using paper. So far it's going very well." He is in his third semester of a degree in Business Computing and Information Systems at Landshut University of Applied Sciences. His fellow students work with laptops or pen and paper during lectures; there's a wide variety of preferences. "In classes I write on my Surface," says Melanie Wanzke, an Electrical Engineering and Information Technology student. But when she is studying for exams, she prefers to write on paper.??

What does a course look like that caters equally to digital all-rounders and traditional library learners? It's known as "blended learning". "The idea is to combine traditional face-to-face teaching such as lectures and seminars with interactive online-courses," explains Professor Dr. Petra Tippmann-Krayer, Vice President Academic Affairs at Landshut University of Applied Sciences. "Our teaching has to be interesting and grab our students' attention, but the content should not be reduced in the process." What teaching should look like in future was discussed by every lecturer at Landshut University of Applied Sciences during the "Teaching Day" on 6th December. ?

Brain adapts to information tsunami

?The technical requirements for digital teaching are already in place, for example in the form of the online learning platform, Moodle. Lecturers can use it to make lecture notes and assignments available. "But it is also possible to offer tests with which the students can check for themselves if they have understood the content of a lecture," explains Dorothee Huth, who oversees the platform. On the Teaching Day, lecturers also presented other approaches, for example from the Faculty of Electrical and Industrial Engineering. Students pursuing studies in Software Engineering also deal with information technology. But learning a programming language through lecture-style instruction is difficult. For this reason their lecturers have developed an online quiz that looks at the details and pitfalls of a language. It is intended to help the students to monitor their own progress. The experience gained is gathered together in a best practice pool and tutors can further develop the concept - including from other Bavarian universities.??

The members of so-called Generations Y and Z, in other words those born after 1980, are faced with a wide variety of media every day. With quick fingers they switch between WhatsApp, Instagram and news sites on their smart phones and tablets. "Their brains have become used to dealing with this tsunami of information," said Dr. Thomas Schutz. In his lecture, the educational therapist at Munich University of Applied Sciences presented possible ways in which lecturers could make learning easier for their students. Traditional lectures, for example, quickly become boring if you are attuned to quickly processing lots of different stimuli. Variety is the key. Examples of how this can be achieved include fun elements such as a quick quiz, survey or simulation game - preferably digitally via smart phone. To ensure that lectures offer a good blend of digital and analogue, the media literacy needs to go two ways: "Lecturers have to familiarise themselves with digital media and use it proficiently - and in return students also need to learn to get to grips with paper and other conventional teaching methods," said Schutz.

More media literacy for lecturers and students

?Whilst smart phones can be very useful for looking up terms and viewing explanatory video clips, they can also quickly distract from the original task. According to Schutz, "Students have to understand which media will distract them from learning. They need help to do this. In Tippmann-Krayer's view "Media literacy, methodological competence and learning skills should be fostered during classes".?

?She summed up by saying: "At Landshut University of Applied Sciences we do make use of many blended learning elements. This is well received by the students, who would like more." Teaching therefore needs to constantly evolve, and a specially established working group is looking at ways of continuing to improve quality. "For us it is important that the personal and intensive support from lecturers does not in any way suffer in the process."