International Courses Across Borders
German Academic Exchange Service supports project "Advanced Functional Materials international" (AFMint)
At Chemnitz University of Technology, the project "Advanced Functional Materials international" (AFMint), funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with about 100,000 Euros, starts as a joint project of the International Office, the Chair of Semiconductor Physics (Prof. Dr. Dietrich R.T. Zahn), and the Chair of Coordination Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Michael Mehring). It pursues the goal of developing two international master modules together with Prof. Dr. Romulus Tetean (Physics) and Prof. Dr. Cristian Silvestru (Chemistry) from the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In the international modules, lecturers and students from both universities will participate in the same courses from the summer semester 2021 onwards.
For example, lectures will take place simultaneously at both universities and will be streamed live into the lecture hall of the partner university, or two seminar rooms will be connected via video conference systems to form a joint seminar room. In practical exercises, students from both universities work on joint projects in international learning groups and use joint digital teaching and learning rooms and other digital tools. It is planned to integrate the newly developed modules into the Master's programme Advanced Functional Materials at Chemnitz University of Technology – at Babeș-Bolyai University students can obtain credits for the modules in several Master's programmes. The project partners at the Babeș-Bolyai University are looking forward to the joint project with great anticipation. "I am particularly pleased that the long-standing cooperation between the Chemistry and Physics departments of our universities now also finds its way into university teaching," says Prof. Dr. Daniel David, Rector of Babeș-Bolyai University.
New Digital Formats for International Higher Education
The AFMint project is part of the call for proposals "International Virtual Academic Collaboration" (IVAC), through which the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is responding to the challenges of the corona crisis for the internationalisation of higher education. The aim is to link the capacities developed at German universities for digital teaching and learning with internationalisation measures (internationalization@home). "These so-called virtual mobilities are a valuable complement to semesters abroad, enabling students to gain international experience during regular semesters in Chemnitz or Cluj-Napoca", says Dr. Benny Liebold, project manager and head of the International Office. The DAAD received an unexpectedly high number of project applications for the programme, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with around 5.5 million euros. The AFMint project at Chemnitz University of Technology is one of almost 50 selected projects in which international modules are now being developed.
Innovative Concepts for Teaching Required
International modules present universities and lecturers with completely new challenges – not only must it be ensured that the achieved credits are recognised – but solutions need to be identified for bringing together lecturers and students from two universities in a single group. The AFMint project therefore focuses on a wide range of formats – particularly challenging in this context are practical courses that are usually carried out in the laboratory. "We want to transform the students' desks into a shared virtual laboratory," says Prof. Zahn, who wants to set up remote access to laboratory experiments in his courses. Prof. Mehring would also like to give students the opportunity to experience the practical work in a chemistry laboratory as closely as possible: "We will demonstrate the experiments with the help of instructional videos – each international learning group will receive its own real laboratory data set for analysis". At the end of the project, the developed didactic concepts and experiences will be prepared for other lecturers at Chemnitz University of Technology and beyond to support them in implementing their own international modules.
(Author: Dr. Benny Liebold)