Erasmus+ project INSYSTED provides impetus for digitally supported teaching
How can the quality of education and teaching in industrial engineering be improved in a European context? What contribution can digital learning tools make here and how can the skills and competences of teachers in the use of these tools be improved? Finding answers to these questions was the aim of the Erasmus+ project INSYSTED.
INSYSTED stands for "Integrated System for European Digital Learning" and is the name of a three-year collaborative project between the partner institutions in the Alliance4Tech network. In addition to TU Berlin, the universities of Politecnico di Milano, CentraleSupèlec Paris and University College London were involved. The TU Berlin project team consisted of staff from the Department of International Affairs, the Chair of Industrial Production and Operations Management (POM), the Centre for Scientific Continuing Education and Cooperation (ZEWK) and innoCampus.
The result is a ready-to-use toolbox with teaching and learning methods, tools and adapted content for digitally supported teaching. Embedded in a holistic didactic concept for blended digital learning, this toolbox combines the knowledge and experience of subject experts, e-learning competence centres and the International Offices of the four universities and makes it available for the general public. Central results of the project are the learning game ProTUce and a guide for digitally supported teaching.
The fun way to digital competence
ProTUce is a web-based application for teaching and consolidating theories, methods and instruments of operations management. The focus is on the practical experience and the learning experience of the students. In various game levels, students are confronted with typical challenges of everyday production and practice analysis, designing and optimising value-added processes. The level of difficulty can be successively adapted to the learning progress of the students. ProTUce is more than just an educational game. At the heart of the app is a design module with which different game levels can be (further) developed according to individual needs and interests and shared with each other. This not only gives teachers a powerful tool to specifically develop their own teaching, but also makes it possible to involve students in the creative design process. In this way, ProTUce creates the framework for a whole new learning experience. The handling of the game and the
inclusion of subject-specific software tools in the game promote digital competences. ProTUce can be fully integrated into common learning management systems via standardised interfaces but is also sufficiently flexible to realise collaborative learning in national and international groups of students from different universities. A selection of MOOCs is available for in-depth study of subject content. As an Open Educational Resource (OER), the game is provided under an open-source licence for free use and adaptation but can also be easily tested on a test server of the POM department.
A holistic learning concept as a framework
The learning game is embedded into a pedagogical framework for digitally supported learning scenarios. The result is an instructional booklet for promoting the development of subject-specific, interdisciplinary and digital competences in higher education. The aim is to put students in an active position in their own learning process. To this end, the booklet contains a compilation of concrete recommendations for action for the conception and implementation of broad-based teaching offers with a mix of digital and non-digital forms of teaching and examination. Numerous examples illustrate the use of innovative tools such as learning games, MOOCs and online learning communities to enhance the learning experience. The booklet covers the entire spectrum of digitally supported teaching, starting with the specification of intended learning outcomes, through the mix of teaching and learning activities used, to the differentiated assessment of learning success. The guide is available as a free download on the project website. In addition, there is a manual to the learning game and there are three webinar videos in which the basic ideas of the booklet are presented.
Promising test results
ProTUce, the manual and the booklet were tested in numerous learning events with teachers and students at different universities in Germany and abroad with a total of well over 500 participants. Special highlights were game events in which teams from different German and European universities competed against each other in friendly competition. In this way, the students were also able to benefit directly from the European university network Alliance4Tech. In the various test applications, the game impressively demonstrated its practicality and usefulness. In addition to the entertaining game experience, gaining knowledge of the complex interrelationships in the supply
chain was repeatedly praised. Similar cross-university formats and the use of digital learning games were also strongly desired for other courses. The feedback from the professional audience was also very positive to the presentation of the game at conferences, including in London and Helsinki, as well as at various digital events across Europe.
The project also offered a lot to learn for the members of the consortium. In particular, it became clear in concrete terms how challenging close transnational cooperation in teaching can be - especially under corona conditions. Asynchronised semester dates, complementary focal points in terms of content, difficulties in coordinating and implementing data protection-compliant solutions, as well as the high additional workload due to the re-organisation of teaching in corona times - there were stumbling blocks of this kind aplenty. Of the larger-scale face-to-face events with students and teaching staff from the partner universities, not a single one could be implemented as planned. In the end, however, the project was very successful in finding answers to the various challenges. In particular, the focus on digital formats and content envisaged from the outset, as well as the trusting cooperation in the Alliance4Tech network proved to be very helpful. At the end of the project, it is clear to those involved that digital technology can support internationalisation processes in higher education very effectively.
Prof. Thomas Volling and Dr. Lissy Langer
Prof. Thomas Volling
Chair of Production and Operations Management