On(e) course towards a semester entirely online
The eScout Academy is a Moodle course for students and other TUM staff to acquire online teaching skills. It is offered by ProLehre which supports educators and students to improve their teaching and learning. The idea: participants become eScouts.
Currently three modules
First, they obtain technical skills, and then, they use them to support instructors in running their courses online. ‘For example, many of the over 3,200 student assistants at TUM cannot work right now because they cannot enter the university building. They can take the course at home to help their professors in creating online learning material’, illustrates Michael Folgmann who is the head of the Educational Technology team at ProLehre.
Participants can currently explore three modules, consisting of German and English material, in any order and in their own time. A fourth module will be added soon. ‘Each of the modules has a task that can be fulfilled by working through the respective content’, says Leah Sharp, the head instructor of the eScout Academy.
For example, a video has to be created to complete the module about video production. Additionally, weekly Zoom meetings take place to pose questions to the course instructors. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate by ProLehre.
Disseminators of digital learning practices
Interestingly, the course is the online content of a larger programme – but the corona crisis shifted the purpose of this project drastically. ‘The initial idea was that each TUM faculty could send a student to us, so that he or she could acquire online teaching skills and learn about didactics’, explains Leah Sharp.
Essentially, the students were meant to become disseminators of digital learning practices at their faculties to enhance the courses. Now, due to the current situation, the purpose is not enhancement anymore, but crucial support for the pure online teaching that is happening this semester.
Investment will pay off
Before the corona pandemic, teaching at TUM was mainly done on campus, so putting all on-site courses online is a great challenge – for ProLehre and the rest of the TUM community.
But despite these challenges, Leah Sharp and Michael Folgmann are optimistic that the investment in preparing online teaching material during this semester will pay off. ‘Although online teaching requires educators to invest much time upfront for which they are not currently rewarded, I hope that some will recognise the benefits of online teaching, especially when it comes time to return rerun the courses next year’, says Leah.
(Author: Annika Eßmann)