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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.
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.