Overview: Educating Tomorrow’s Digital Leaders in the ‚Medienfaktur‘

The prototype course (the working title is ‚Medienfaktur‘) that I am currently working on with a colleague of mine, is planned to start in October 2019 and it will run over 2 semesters (2 x 14 weeks, Winter Semester 2019 and Summer Semester 2010). The first semester is focussing on developing teachers‘ digital proficiency, which entails media-didactic and media-pedagogical competencies. In the second semester, students get trained in developing Blended Learning curricula as well as how to strategize digital school development. Participants will obtain official credits from Oldenburg University as well as an additional certificate once they complete the second semester. The plan is to foster the first generation of digital entrepreneurs who can transform schools and enjoy working as professional team-players to assist colleagues.

There are some internal best-practice criteria we are looking out for:

  1. Evidence-based pedagogical gain in the use of digital technology
  2. The use of high-quality Blended Learning formats in digital education
  3. Cooperation between students and lecturers
  4. Interdisciplinary connections to related didactic fields and institutions
  5. Application and testing of digital education materials, concepts and programs in local schools and institutions. We aim for a tight cooperation with local Schools around Oldenburg.
  6. Active quality management – from recruiting students to developing their competencies and mindsets as self-directed learners and responsible public servants

Rooms & Spaces

We have sufficient seminar rooms available, luckily with easily movable tables on rollers and projectors in every room, allowing for flexibility in how to use the space (group work, presentations, tutorial groups etc.). Since we are dealing with university students, we will most likely opt for a Flex model. The rooms serve the main purpose (a) to meet every week for concept briefings and (b) to offer one-to-one consultation or small-group support at other times. Posted below are a few photographs for reference.

    

There are ample corners throughout the university to set up breakout-spaces for the Flex model. Below are two photographs of example spaces that still look fairly dull. The spaces need to be more energetic and vibrant; perhaps adding a few cosy old sofas, beanbags, colourful posters, adjustable lights etc. Breakout spaces should also offer creative tools such as pin-boards, flip-chat holders etc. to invite students to play, experiment, conceptualise etc. Since we still have an entire year to plan, we consider renting more inspiring places, such as old factories etc.

Ideally, I would like to work towards multi-functional spaces, that appear more inviting (some examples from the Web here for inspiration):

LMS, Software and Co-Design of Curriculum

I am very familiar with using LMS since I grew up with Moodle (as a student in undergrad courses at Oxford University) and Blackboard (for my Masters at Liverpool University) – with additional experience using Google Classroom for my students as a Program Director for an International College in Thailand. Since I intend to implement Mastery Learning Paths and Learning Analytics for formative assessment, I suggested using the Canvas LMS and I have started setting it up. The detailed sequences with integrated, mutually informing face-to-face and online segments will be designed by our team and (since we create learning experiences) in cooperation with our students. Below a screenshot of setting things up in Canvas.

Curriculum Design and Standards

The Curriculum Design is more complex. In Germany, we do have an official framework that defines the digital competencies for teachers (jointly endorsed by the Ministries of our federal states, the KMK standards). There is also a European Framework called DigCompEdu (Digital Competence Framework for Educators) which explicitly supports learner-centeredness and promotes innovative ways of assessment. The ‚Medienfaktur‘ aims to cover both standards, so we have to map each learning unit to corresponding competencies that students acquire. In the illustration below, you can see the mapping to (a) both overarching competency systems (to the right, in blue colour, the KMK and EU-standards), (b) competencies connected to the specific tasks and activities (middle) and (c) the positioning of activities within the course (left). Visualisation greatly helps during complex mapping exercises.

 

Student Experience and Learning Paths

We are planning to offer Mastery Paths for all learning units, this means that students progress as they demonstrate proficiency in their own time, place and pace. To support social development, activities will be embedded as small-group work or work with partners. Building relationships as a future consultant is a key skill to transform schools. In order to develop a sense of ownership for their learning, students will work from personalized virtual spaces (most likely Blogs) to demonstrate their creative skills in designing high-quality Open Educational Ressources (OER). In addition to the standard Mastery Path-based learning units, we plan to offer professional-level exercises, which are optional (indicated by the dolphin icon). These are voluntary units where students can opt to develop high-end media skills by attending Master Classes, which will be conducted by invited experts (another option besides relying on full-time staff).

Learning Landscape (draft): Entering Terra Incognita

As a result of this more diversified curriculum, students will experience their learning similar to entering an unknown (and hopefully exciting) landscape, or a Terra Incognita they can explore. Beyond their scheduled learning units, students can venture out into professional (’super-deep‘) learning. At each level, they produce media-pedagogical concepts and artefacts, to which there will be a formative assessment. The subsequent concluding mini-projects for the students‘ portfolios (after each sequence of learning units, see graphic below) are indicated in yellow. Some of these mini-projects will be of an interdisciplinary nature (in purple, such as near the little fox), while professional-level (super-deep) dolphin-learning is indicated by blue and green units. Again, these are optional programs and we may require students to choose at least one mandatory professional unit while attending the program. Mastery of skills and social maturity are however not the only overarching educational goals. By offering professional paths, students can experiment with future social roles and occupations (e.g., the digitally competent teacher, the staff trainer, the curriculum developer, the strategic school developer, the media expert, the pedagogical consultant for digital education etc…), supporting personal development.

We will have to experiment and see how this works out – and we need to be open to changing the concept if it doesn’t yield the expected results. Since we develop this program in a scientific, evidence-based manner (as a co-design exercise with students), we anticipate reasonable accuracy in achieving learning outcomes and the development of competencies. The ‚learning landscape‘ should be a bit like the Holodeck on Starship Enterprise, if the comparison makes sense, able to model a great variety of learning experiences and scenarios that encourage creative flow and develop problem-solving skills.

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Budgeting

We anticipate employing at least one additional full-time staff. The course will start as two classes of about 25 students each and is likely to be scaled significantly after the first run. Regarding software, we are still discussing our options; e.g., Adobe is a great professional option, but we may not need the entire Adobe Creative Cloud bundle. We rather let students explore a wide range of software solutions, both free and commercial, to prepare them for greater flexibility once they enter working life where local conditions can differ greatly. For some of the commercial software, we have to factor licenses as running costs. Regarding devices (and since all students own their own laptops) we will adopt a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy. For Masterclasses, we have budgeted high-end workstations, as well as VR- and AR-equipment, such as a set of Oculus Rifts, a multi-source live video-switcher, a large green screen and various digital cameras. The detailed budget will be ready in October when we submit our final proposal.


This page has been created by Joana Stella Kompa, Research Fellow for Digital Education at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany.