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Summary

Through the project "The Incas go digital" the traditional frontal teaching technique was supposed to be replaced by an "exchange forum" with the students. The goal was to learn how to deal with the Internet in a conscious manner, writing up easily understandable but also scientifically based texts, to learn about copyright and plagiarism and more. The wide array of tasks on offer offered the students, who came from various different disciplines, more chances of developing themselves and supported their independent learning and research capabilities. The course was made up of a combination of face-to-face sessions in which general content and experiences made were discussed in the plenary meetings and of group meetups that took place outside of the in-class seminars. Practical work with web 2.0 applications that the students were easily able to deal with and handle increased their willingness to learn and made it easier for them to understand and comprehend the academic content taught.   

The students were able to actively participate in the creation of material for the FU website "Caminos - Journey through the history of Latin America". Work was undertaken in thematic groups that partially communicated using web 2.0 tools as well as in the face-to-face sessions. The work processes were documented in a blog in order to strengthen social competence and the ability to reflect. The processes and the content produced therein were discussed in the weekly face-to-face sessions.   

The resulting texts were then posted within a wiki and were edited by the respective group members which also resulted in a promotion of the participants' writing competence as well as editorial skills. 

Course

Course title"The Incas go digital" – in the wake of the website "Caminos - Journey through the history of Latin America"
Course typeTutorial/project seminar
Department/InstituteInstitute for Latin American Studies
Degree programCultural Anthropology
LecturerPeggy Goede Montalván
No. of participants5 - 30
PhaseDuring the academic lecture period
Duration

1 – 2 semester(s)

New topics can be integrated into the already existing wiki in subsequent semesters 

Tools

Realization

Didactics: In order to introduce the students to various web 2.0 tools that are suitable for both group work as well as one's own research activities, various different tools were used by the lecturer during the face-to-face sessions. 

Step 1

  • Project presentation by the lecturer using a Prezi presentation
  • Stipulating what the main topic is by the lecturer (in this case 'Inca society'). Students were able to name specific topics that they would like to work on depending on what suited them and what their study focus was. The superordinate topics for the workgroups that crystallized from this were 'economics', 'religion', 'society' and 'modernism'
  • Assignment of the individual topics to the superordinated fields by the students and splitting up into workgroups. Both of this was undertaken with bubble.us (an online mind mapping tool)

Illustration 1: E-learning in Ancient American Studies


Step 2

  • Introduction to working with and in a blog which serves the purpose of self-reflection. For this, every seminar participant brought their own notebook with them in order to practically try out the various steps needed. The blog was not available to the general public so that the participants could exchange ideas and thoughts in peace and quiet as well as being able to post photos and videos without having to worry about legal problems or the topic of copyright. 
  • First internal meetups of the groups and task assignment. The collaboration of the various diverse groups took place in many different facets: in real meetups, via Skype, Facebook, Google tools etc. The work processes and the respective results were recorded within the seminar blog. 
  • Two joint museum visits. Hereby the seminar topics were gone into in-depth based on the museum objects. In addition, the comprehensibility, length and usefulness of the text panels used in the museum were discussed and these insights were applied for the participants' own work. The experiences made in the museum were once again reflected in the blog. 

Step 3

  • Weekly face-to-face phases (2h/week):
    • Students presented in short presentations their respective topic 
    • Groups reported on experiences made and about possible difficulties regarding collaboration
    • The lecturer presented a new and easy-to-use web 2.0 tool every respective session
  • After approx. half of the seminar (in order to first practice working with the blog):
    • Introduction to working with a wiki. The seminar participants implemented the work steps once again in their own notebooks.
    • The groups were assigned the task of posting their respective thematic texts in the wiki and asked to edit the texts amongst themselves. 
    • Seminar participants that did not require a course certificate did join in with the group work, reflecting within the blog etc. However, they did not draft any thematic texts but rather created a wiki glossary instead.  

Step 4

  • In the last few sessions the work groups presented the wiki results.

Step 5

  • Final evaluation of the project

During the project CeDiS supported the lecturer when it came to technical questions. Parallel to the seminar the lecturer took part in the further training course "Web 2.0 in teaching and research" in which the seminar was reflected on with other educators. The experiences made by other participants who were supervising projects that were running at the same time and the very constructive exchange was very helpful for the lecturer's own project.    

Experiences made by the lecturer

The various different tasks of the project led to an increased active participation of the students. The participants were able to include their strengths such as, for example, special organizational talent, computer affinity, knowledge about AV media etc. In addition, those students that are usually not as active or as participatory in face-to-face seminars were able to engage in a more active manner. The simultaneous learning of how to edit and use blogs as well as wikis within the course of one semester was just too much for most of the students. The blog was the tool of choice as it was visually seen more appealing, the language being used less formal and therefore reminded the students more of how they usually implemented social media platforms. The task of a weekly reflection within the blog was taken up on a very positive note.

The wiki, the much more academic tool, was used less. In addition, the constructive editing and re-editing of fellow students' texts was hard work for most of the participants. 

Finally, the project was positively accepted by the students as they learned a lot of practical things which they are able to use for their (future) studies as well as when they start their working careers.  

Further information

Support offered by CeDiS

  • Consulting services for the implementation of digital solutions in teaching: The Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) has extensive experience of many years when it comes to the implementation of digital media and systems within the fields of teaching, learning and research. We offer a wide variety of consulting services on the implementation of these tools and systems within the entire academic scope and especially at Freie Universität Berlin. 
  • Training courses and workshops: For lecturers at Freie Universität Berlin (professors, employees, tutors) as well as lecturers of other universities CeDiS offers training courses and workshops on the topic of teaching and learning with digital media. These course enable participants to implement online elements within their own sphere of teaching.
  • The Executive Board of the Freie Universität supports e-learning initiatives: With the e-learning funding program financial resources are provided to lecturers that enrich and improve their courses quality-wise by implementing technological and media-related support. All of the academic staff teaching, the lecturers or even the institutions of the Freie Universität - without the Charité-Universitätsmedizin - can be supported within this program.
  • Training courses on web 2.0 and social media at the Freie Universität:

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