“The students are very supportive with their communication”

Digitalisation at the Institute of Ship Design and Safety

Die Umstellung von Präsenzveranstaltungen auf Online-Lehre ist das Thema der Stunde an der TUHH. Vor welchen Herausforderungen stehen die Institute aktuell und welche Lösungen sind bereits erprobt? Im siebten Teil unserer kleinen Interview-Serie berichtet Larissa Jannsen über ihre Erfahrungen und Herausforderungen am Institut für Entwerfen von Schiffen und Schiffssicherheit der TUHH.

Which courses do you have to change now and what challenges does this present you with?

Our institute is in charge of two Bachelor’s and two Master’s courses this semester. The subjects are each attended by about 10-20 students and should be continued as best as possible despite online teaching. I myself supervise the exercise on hydrostatics and line outline. It was clear to us relatively quickly that the exercises should be carried out in real time, as they thrive on interactivity. For me personally, an online exercise is unusual because I like to have direct contact with people and can get better feedback that way. Despite the various possibilities in Zoom, it is more difficult for me to estimate when the participants are finished with the calculation tasks.

But the students support me a lot with their communication and sometimes also by sharing their camera. Another challenge is digitalisation – I worked a lot with the blackboard and now have to create PowerPoint slides. By working with the blackboard, the students naturally always had the time to think along, copy and take further notes.

It’s quite different with the slides now: you can’t switch to the next one too quickly. Since I think you learn a lot while taking notes, I don’t give out my slide sets. Particularly in hydrostatics, you learn a lot by making your own sketches and drawings. The exact examination of a drawing is lost when it is published directly and is already available as a form of learning through lecture notes and textbooks.

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

In teaching, we use Zoom, which is provided by the TU, for all exercises and communicate outside of the exercises in the classic way via email. The students always dialled in to Zoom on time and had no problems either. For the lectures, my colleague prepared everything for our professor for the recording (webcam, post-processing, uploading via Mediasite), the lectures are then always online for at least a week. Communication here is also via tried and tested methods – website and email. Almost every week, the students are asked a question during the lecture, which they are supposed to answer by email and whose answer will be dealt with in the next lecture. This is also used, but unfortunately still too little. I would be pleased if more students would submit their reflections here. It does not in any way influence the grading of the exam, but it can help to maintain communication between lecturers and participants, even if records are kept. Furthermore, students are encouraged to contact me by email if any issues seem unclear.

For internal communication, we have set up a digital workspace on Slack. There you can write about different topics (channels) with everyone, exchange direct messages and make quick video calls. It works very well for us, our weekly meetings always take place at the same time and for questions in between we write – someone always answers – or use the phone.

We have also set up a workspace for our students who are employed by us as assistants or who are writing a thesis, and we can easily communicate with them there. Via video call and screen sharing, this works almost as well as on site. We are working on a terminal server solution so that the students can use our internal ship design programme. It works very well on a small scale, and in future we will be supported by a ZLL-funded assistant for further development, instructions and improvements.

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

In my opinion, one plus point is that students can watch the lectures at any time of the day or night and also pause them. Otherwise, my impression so far is that although all the central components of teaching can also be carried out in digital form, there are no significant additional possibilities.

Thank you very much for answering our questions.

Read more articles in the series here

Bildquelle: Institut für Entwerfen von Schiffen und Schiffssicherheit, TUHH

Leave a Reply

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