ILIAS – asynchronous and synchronous teaching

You have gained valuable experience in Zoom? At the same time, do you have the feeling that you would like to – try out or exploit further possibilities of activating good teaching? Then try combining it with the numerous activating possibilities in ILIAS.

At TUHH, ILIAS is based on the same user administration as Stud.IP, which forms the standard learning management system here as described here. You can access ILIAS directly after logging into Stud.IP with just two clicks (on “tools” and then on “ILIAS”).

ILIAS offers similar functions to stud.IP (e.g. wiki, forum, chat), but more elaborate in detail. However, a whole range of additional functions can be used to structure and support student learning processes in the technical sciences even better. The platform’s repertoire includes numerous objects, e.g. Mediacast, Media Pool, H5P, Blog, Test and Evaluation Tool, Surveys (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. objects in Ilias

Calculation-based exercises and tests with ILIAS

Especially in large courses with subject-related calculation methods, it is challenging to promote continuous learning and to give students regular feedback on their learning status. In ILIAS, for example, question pools can be created for tests accompanying the course, which can be accessed by several teachers at the same time (click: “Course in Ilias”; “Add new object”; test or question pool for test). This video explains how to create a question pool.

Fig. 2: Question types in ILIAS

In the question pool, a question text, the number of points, possible answers, processing times, etc. can be assigned to each question. Nine different question types are possible, e.g. “multiple choice questions”, “numerical answer formats” or the “formula question” (see fig. 2).

The questions in a pool can be assigned to different taxonomy levels, for example, by structuring them according to different levels of difficulty. This allows the tasks to be targeted to the specific learning objectives of an event.

For complex calculation tasks, for example, the “Formula question” and the “Stack” plug-in are interesting. The task type of the formula question asks for the calculation of a certain value. The solution is predefined by a formula, but the learners receive different values to complete the task, which are automatically given as random numbers by ILIAS. This means that different results are correct and the learners can practise the calculation path individually. With the help of the plug-in Stack in ILIAS, automatic, individual feedback can be given on parameterised calculation tasks, so that feedback is given as to whether one’s own concrete result is correct or not.

A practical example from the TUHH is the solid construction modules in the bachelor’s degree programme in civil and environmental engineering, where ILIAS tasks also serve as tests for formative assessment.

Experimentation with ILIAS

Laboratory practicals are an important part of a study programme in the engineering sciences. Currently, laboratory practicals take place, for example, as:

  • “@home-lab”: Students work with hardware (such as circuit boards) individually at home.
  • “24/7 Remote Labs”: Students control an experimental set-up from home and directly follow their experiments due to a continuously recording camera.

Laboratory practicals serve to illustrate theoretical knowledge on the basis of selected problems and to practise concrete scientific working methods. This may include, in particular, experimental design, record keeping, data analysis and data interpretation. The implementation can be effectively supported in all phases by digital tools in ILIAS. In general, it should be considered in advance which rough didactic framework should be used as a basis for the experiments.

Since experiments are often worked on in groups, the ILIAS booking pool is helpful for forming groups. Teachers can set the maximum group size here. In the next step, students can then independently select a group according to their preference for a topic or a date. In the group rooms, students can prepare their experiments together, exchange material on them or interpret the collected data with each other via the forum or blog function. The ILIAS Etherpad can also be used for planning or discussing results. Overarching contexts and terminology can in turn be developed and documented with the wiki or the glossary. The groups can also give each other feedback on the experimental design, procedure or results in ILIAS. This can be easily implemented both in the wiki and within the ILIAS learning module via the comment function.

Such didactic concepts for independent group work in Ilias can be used more broadly, i.e. in addition to laboratory practicals, they can also be used in other types of courses such as problem-based courses, seminars and exercises.

ILIAS is an object-based learning management system, i.e. there is a multi-level nesting of content, which can be confusing at the beginning, but after a few tries in the sandbox it is very clear. Just try it yourself! Feel free to get inspired by good practices of ILIAS use. Teachers described in the Welcome Space (simply log in with Kerberos ID) how they use ILIAS wikis, H5P videos and screencasts in flipped classroom concepts.

ILIAS from a student’s point of view

“ILIAS is a good extension to Stud.IP. Tests can be offered, which give us the opportunity to put the contents we have learned into practice. After the test, you get direct feedback on your performance. In some tests, there was the possibility to take the test up to three times, for example, to get bonus points. All in all, ILIAS is underused in my opinion. The possibilities that arise are great and should be used especially in fully digital teaching.” (Joseph Rüffert)

Authors: Katrin Billerbeck, Ulrike Bulmann, Joseph Rüffert, Klaus Vosgerau

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