Events - 23.03.2016 - 00:00 

Learning, teaching and life 2.0

Digital technologies generate completely new forms of learning and teaching. How can teachers and students put them to sensible use? Dr. Kurt Fendt, Director of the Hyper Studio – Digital Humanities at MIT, is exploring this question with a degree of intensity. In his keynote speech on “Digital Learning: Rethinking Student Engagement” on the Day of Teaching, he presented his insights into the matter.

21 March 2016. Bulimic learning is not part of this concept; what is in great demand instead is creativity! When students take the subject matter into their own hands and configure it themselves, they learn best – Kurt Fendt is convinced of this. What was important, he said, was their exchange with fellow students, i.e. asking other people questions and listening to other people’s ideas.

Digital technologies are excellently suited to such cooperation, says Fendt. Thus many programmes and platforms enable users to exchange ideas anywhere at any time, services for joint text processing in the cloud being a case in point. Here, users share contents, comment on them, see who has changed what, and continue to develop their thoughts. Or social media, where students nimbly input and extract important information, too.

Playing with content

For Fendt, learning means more than knowledge and typing words on keyboards, and so he also brings other media into play for learning purposes – for instance cameras, with which students are able to record content and insights. Primarily, however, this is about experimenting with this complex information, to synthesise it by playing with it, to place it in a context and thus to generate meaning.

Enriching studies with extracurricular activities

Such a learning experience is hardly possible in a seminar or a lecture. Extended forms of learning had also found a champion in Sahra Pohl, who represented the interest of the Student Union in her address. Degree courses, social matters and work were in flux in any case, and students thus also learnt things outside the classic forms of teaching. Following the same lines, Fendt also advocated extracurricular activities and project-related learning. It was in application that knowledge became firmly established; students learnt a lot in an informal way. In particular, they were able to make use of the whole range of their skills. Fendt is convinced that outside university rooms, learning and living become one.

Classic studies still important

However, Fendt does not want to see intramural curricula complete abolished – quite the contrary. Rather, he regards classic studies consisting of reading books, ploughing through and reading texts in depth as fundamental. This basic knowledge – also theoretical knowledge – was absolutely important for creative, informal learning.

Fendt develops learning programmes along these lines himself

Fendt also develops programmes and projects aiming to enable students to experience knowledge with a degree of intensity. He regards faculty members’ function as similar: primarily, they have to provide students with the prerequisites for creative and profound learning.

The author, Dana Sindermann, is a Research Assistant at the Institute for Business Ethics.

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