Project Based Learning digital!

Digitization at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Pollution Control

Am Institut für Abwasserwirtschaft und Gewässerschutz wurde im Sommersemester eine PBL-Veranstaltung auf digitale Lehre umgestellt. Vor welchen Herausforderungen stellte das die Lehrenden? Im siebten Teil unserer kleinen Interview-Serie berichtet Lukas Huhn über seine Erfahrungen und Herausforderungen. 

What courses did you have to change and what challenges did you face?

I was busy this semester with the conversion of the module ‘Nexus Engineering – Water Soil, Food and Energy’, which is offered as a PBL in various Master’s programs as a WP in the 2nd semester and was chosen by 70 – 90 students per semester in the last 3 years. This semester again, more than 90 students initially registered in StudIP, of which 75 still kept the ball rolling.

In addition to the preparation for the production of lecture videos, which in the sense of asynchronous learning, are regularly made available on a course-internal WordPress blog, it is a great challenge to conduct a project-based course completely online. Initially, we planned to limit the number of participants to 40 to allow for online supervision of the project groups over several weeks. After the demand for the course was so high again, we decided to cover a part of the exam with a written exam and only conduct smaller group projects in the last third of the semester.

Lukas Huhn, Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection

So we have now implemented the lectures, discussion and query facilities, exercises and an area for group work bundled on an in-course WordPress blog

What tools do you use to stay in touch with your students and what is your experience with these tools so far?

As mentioned earlier, we use a WordPress blog in our PBL course. Furthermore, our institute currently works with ILIAS courses, PowerPoint videos, OpenBoard, StudIP forums and Zoom in teaching (possibly more). Communication is primarily via email and phone, as well as video conferencing now and then – I also know of occasional use of Mattermost and SharePoint.

Are there any positive things you can take away from the current switch to digital teaching?

On the one hand, some important things, such as direct contact and individual support, are lost in such a complete change of teaching. In addition, some sacrifices had to be made, as in our PBL. On the other hand, many things can be conveyed much better this way than in a classic “frontal lecture”. In the 21st century, the possibilities of digital offerings should be a fixed part of the program of universities, also in order to do justice to the many different life situations of students. Basically, we are far below the rate of digital courses predicted 20 years ago throughout Germany. I believe that this has also helped many lecturers to (finally) get to grips with the possibilities for digital teaching and hope that some offerings will continue to exist and be expanded in the future.

Thank you for the exciting report on the implementation of a PBL event in digital teaching. We wish you continued pioneering spirit and success for this digital semester!

Read previous articles in this series here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *