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Three questions to Professor Insa Melle on the pos­si­bi­lities of online teaching

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Portrait photo of Insa Melle © Lutz Kampert
Professor Insa Melle has been Prorector Academic Affairs since 2016.

In view of the current co­ro­na­virus crisis, for the moment courses will be offered exclusively online when the lecture period begins on 20 April. Whether, when and how attendance courses can be offered in the course of the summer semester is not yet foreseeable. That’s why a working group at TU Dort­mund University led by Professor Insa Melle, Prorector Academic Affairs, is working at full speed to expand existing offers as far as possible. In this interview, she reports on the options already available and what further digital teaching and learning tools are currently in the planning.

Professor Melle, what pos­si­bi­lities for online teaching and learning are already in place at TU Dort­mund University?

Many lecturers at TU Dort­mund University have already been using online teaching and learning platforms for years and lots of students are already familiar with them. Especially Moodle offers a wide variety of pos­si­bi­lities and can also be used from home without a VPN connection. Here, lecturers can set up virtual classrooms for a specific group of students and upload documents there such as lecture notes or video and audio files of recorded lectures, for example. But interactive formats such as webinars, forums, peer reviews, group work and surveys are also possible with Moodle and other digital tools. To use this service, you simply need a normal computer, a notebook or a smartphone. For lecturers we recommend the free OBS Studio software for recording videos and the free Audacity software for audio recordings.

What other tools are already in the planning?

We want to expand the pos­si­bi­lities to broadcast courses live and make them interactive. To do so, we’re currently upgrading our pos­si­bi­lities for web con­feren­cing, event streaming and webinars by a massive degree and will make first tools available at the beginning of April. A streaming server has been in operation at the IT and Media Center (ITMC) since last autumn, via which it’s possible to stream audios and videos for up to 1,000 participants at the same time. In addition, we’ve asked all faculties to tell us their individual requirements so that we can provide the necessary software and, if required, hardware too as quickly as possible.

Where do the challenges lie right now and where might there be opportunities?

Digital formats are definitely not possible in all areas, for example, lab work or certain artistic or creative activities. We’re currently working very hard on expanding our IT infra­structure capacities and testing and introducing new tools. The individual faculties’ experience to date in the use of digital formats varies considerably. Right now, we’re collecting best practice examples so that especially newcomers to digital teaching can see what’s possible. The ITMC has also already put together in­for­mation about how to get started with digital teaching that is being constantly expanded. I believe that the current situation can also be an opportunity in the long term to try out and gradually optimize new teaching formats and use them permanently to supplement face-to-face teaching.


Further in­for­mation:
Moodle course Short-term Transition to Online Teaching
 

About Insa Melle:
Insa Melle has been Professor for Chemistry and Didactics of Chemistry at TU Dort­mund University since 1999. In 2012 she was elected as Vice-Dean and in 2014 as Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. On 1 September 2016 she took office as Prorector Academic Affairs. Her responsibilities in this role include all cross-faculty matters concerning studies and teaching.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

Dort­mund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dort­mund Airport to TU Dort­mund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dort­mund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more in­for­mation). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dort­mund Airport.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.