Trans-disciplinary online course building: A first meet-up in Erlangen, Germany

From May 16th to 20th, the Germany hub hosted, in Erlangen, Germany, the trans-disciplinary meeting for the DAAD-IVAC project titled “Ethical Global Partnerships, Resources and Sustainability: Virtual Collaboration in an interdisciplinary and intercultural inverted classroom”. Dr Lavinia Hirsu (University of Glasgow), Dr Mia Perry (Online – University of Glasgow), Joseph Watuleke (Makerere University), Dr Sizwe Mabaso (University of Eswatini) & Dr Raihana Ferdous (Oxford-Brookes University) travelled to Erlangen and were warmly welcomed by Prof Daniel Koehn, Dr Anette Regelous, Jakob Machleidt, Daniel Hafermaas & Dr Johannes Wiest, all from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Their participation in and contributions to the event were hugely appreciated and integral to the success of the planned activities.

From left to right – Sizwe Mabaso, Daniel Koehn, Anette Regelous, Lavinia Hirsu, Raihana Ferdous, Daniel Hafermaas, Johannes Wiest & Joseph Watuleke.

During this week, all project partners jointly finalised the trans-disciplinary, interconnected learning modules for the postgraduate course. The final aims are to enhance digital and inter-cultural skills including geologic knowledge about the countries’ resources under the aspect of sustainability and ethical partnerships across the cultures of tutors and students with a global virtual perspective, and to develop a best-practice case for the wider community.

The project partners developing content for the online course

“The activities we developed in Erlangen enabled us to lock in valuable time for focussed collaboration. The in-person work allowed us to align our thinking about how the different parts of the course we are currently developing can work in synergy. The time to also know each other not only as researchers but also as people who come from different backgrounds, lives, and stories added a crucial dimension to the ‘soul’ of our collaborative work.” – Dr Lavinia Hirsu, University of Glasgow

“The week in Erlangen has increased my understanding of the project and my role. It improved my conceptualization of what we need to do and what the expectations are. As a result, it shaped my understanding of my role and built my confidence. I was able to contribute comfortably to the design and development of the trans-disciplinary course.

The week was also relevant for team building. I had met the Germany, Glasgow, and Eswatini teams on zoom but did not know them well. Team building was achieved, and at the end of the week, we knew each other well and committed to building a stronger network. The members of the German hub were so welcoming and caring. They made our stay in Germany interesting. Besides the project work, they provided us with a fascinating tour of the region. Visiting nearby cities such as Nuremberg and Munich helped me to put the European History that I studied in High School into perspective.” – Joseph Watuleke, Makerere University

“It sounds comprehensible to communicate, organize and work solely with virtual tools, if you start an educational project with an international team. Especially with the perspective of teaching it internationally. I stepped into this project as replacement of Dr Theresa Nohl, the project coordinator at FAU. Prior to this week, I had none to small connections to the team members. Meetings before our project week were formal gatherings, with one-dimensional people without personal background and connections. But seeing the team for the first time, not just on my screen, and being able to work together with direct responses and discussions adds so much more to the whole project. For me, meeting the members in person changed this loose group into a team.“ – Daniel Hafermass, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg