It’s been a whirlwind week at the studyFIT English Learning Support service.
In between fielding registrations for an upcoming bridging course, from 22 to 24 May, we hosted two academics from the Institut Obert de Catalunya, Spain, who were in town on an Erasmus+ funded staff visit.
Núria Vilanova Morató, who teaches courses in Administration and Management at IOC, was eager to garner some ideas on how to set up seamless online examinations, and our man on the ground, Dr Andreas Kempka, did not disappoint. He explained how the Centre for Learning and Innovation (ZLI) goes about organising, hosting and proctoring online assessments. “We are constantly refining the methodology as new software becomes available,” he said. “Whilst all German universities use learning management systems to some extent, at the FernUniversität eLearning has long been the backbone of our teaching and learning and as such we are pioneers in the various domains of online instruction and assessment,” he added.
When students log in to write their examinations – be it via the dedicated Moodle exam portal, in a Zoom-facilitated room or on Dynexite, they are hardly aware of the back-end acrobatics that allow for thousands of individuals to simultaneously take an exam without the system ripping at the seams. “To date, we have not had any disasters (touch wood) because the back-ups have back-ups, and the various constituent parts of the online assessment are put through rigorous testing before being deployed,” Kempka said.
Spanish visitor Sandra Toboso Chavero was also impressed at the information that Kempka imparted. “At the IOC we turned to online exams during the lockdowns, but we have a smaller student body – 19 000 – so the scenario is not as complex as at the FernUni,” she said.
Enthusiastic about the presentation on online proctoring, Vilanova Morató said that she would be heading back to Catalonia armed with know-how she can implement.
On the visitors’ final day in Hagen, they headed to the FernUniversität Logistics Centre in order to see, first hand, how those famous course materials (Studienbriefe) come into being, complete with individualised cover pages, ready for shipment. “Dominik Eversberg kindly showed us around, and the visit was very interesting,” Núria Vilanova Morató commented.
Erasmus+ exchanges, staff visits and job shadowing assignments allow academics across the Continent to learn from their counterparts and to foster ties that reap benefits for both teaching and research. The FernUniversität in Hagen will host an International Staff Week from 12 to 16 June 2023 which more than a dozen visitors are expected to attend.