April 2021
University of Oldenburg Faculty Newsletter

Current developments in teaching at the University of Oldenburg

Interview with Prof. Dr. Verena Pietzner, Vice President for Instruction and International Affairs

This is the first issue of the University of Oldenburg Faculty Newsletter that you initiated. Who is the audience and what can they expect to read?

The newsletter is addressed to all faculty and instructors at the University of Oldenburg. We would like to support them in their teaching practice by regularly providing information about various offerings from the Department for Study Affairs, such as workshops and professional development courses organized by Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Hochschuldidaktik) and e-Didactics. We will also report about university-wide strategic projects for academic development and inform about current calls for proposals for instructional projects. We will also provide information about grant opportunities for student projects that instructors can pass on to their students. And last but not least, the newsletter will regularly present and inform about relevant projects or area of work at the Department for Study Affairs. We will start with Ayla Satilmis, who works at Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Her work is primarily concerned with gender and diversity in academic education and she offers guidance related to these issues.

In your opinion, will the experiences with remote teaching during the Corona pandemic prove to have a long-term impact on teaching and learning?

Definitely. We have seen that presenting the material in classes can also be done remotely. We can use this opportunity to reflect on how we can make better use of in-person class time. I believe that we should experiment with new formats whose focus lies more on cooperation and collaboration rather than on the mere presentation and reproduction of knowledge. Asynchronous courses could help students to reconcile their academic, family and work lives. And we can use virtual formats to prepare international students for their stay in Oldenburg.

Overall, online teaching will play a greater role in the future than before the pandemic. There will be no complete return to the old structures and formats. Many instructors are already considering how to supplement their teaching with digital technology. Our teaching will inevitably evolve and we will also have to adapt the content: teaching must reflect society’s digital transformation, if we are to offer our students academic programs that are appropriate for this day and age.

What are some developments and initiatives pertaining to academic affairs that the University of Oldenburg will pursue in the future?

With our grant application to Foundation for Innovation in Higher Education [Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre], we hope to develop academic offerings that can provide various forms of support to our students, especially in the initial stages of their programs. Digital formats play a major role here. In addition, we will set up teaching and learning labs where teachers and students can experiment with new tools.

Furthermore, we are continually improving teacher education at the University through two of our projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). These projects are OLE+ (Biographieorientierte und phasenübergreifende Lehrerbildung in Oldenburg)  and DiOLL (Digitalisierung in der Oldenburger Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerbildung). They both started as part of the Quality Initiative for Teacher Education (Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung). These projects work on improving curricula in teacher training programs by creating courses on digital education and profession-specific approaches to topics such as inclusion and diversity, as well as by expanding research-based learning in teacher training.

Three questions for... Ayla Satilmis

Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Hochschuldidaktik), Gender & Diversity

What do you do at the Department for Study Affairs

As part of the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education team, I am responsible for matters related to gender and diversity. I primarily advise about curriculum planning and offer professional development workshops for teachers at the University of Oldenburg. My focus lies on equal opportunities and anti-discrimination, i.e., how to design teaching and learning formats that do not discriminate and encourage all students to participate.

My goal is to encourage and remind instructors to think about the social dimension of teaching and learning, since chances for studying and successfully obtaining a degree are still closely related to social inequality. This is unfortunately still a problem and requires more attention, especially in how it relates to educational (in)equity.

What are you currently working on?

Accessibility and accessible education are currently pressing issues, which are multifaceted and complex, with significant legal requirements, long to-do lists and many challenges in the implementation. Incorporating technical expertise and developing specific resources for support is not only useful, but I also see it as indispensable and forward-looking. Accessibility should not be a matter a "good will." There are clear legal requirements for accessibility, which implies a pressure to act.

For us at Teaching and Learning in Higher Education this means that we have to develop within a short period of time concrete ideas and designs that are practical and easy to integrate with present forms of teaching and learning. Our aim is to provide impetus for instructors to think about inclusion in their teaching and learning environments and to prepare their class materials with accessibility in mind. But at the same time, we have to bear in mind not to overburden faculty and instructors, because they already have enough to do with the current "digital turn".

Through a lively collegial exchange supported by expertise of my colleagues from e-Didactics, we approach the topic from various angles. With our different backgrounds, the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education team offers not only a variety of perspectives, but also a plurality of competences. This enables us to support and assist faculty and instructors at the University of Oldenburg with question related to teaching and learning and to provide concrete and solution-oriented guidance.

I also believe it is important to discuss and reflect on ethical aspects of technology, especially when used in virtual teaching and learning environments.

How do you see your work in twenty years?

The University of Oldenburg is treading new ground with its focus on gender and diversity in teaching and learning. What speaks to this is the fact that there is no equivalent of my position and job profile across Germany. One reason is that major academic institutions are reluctant to explore such issues, so these topics rarely find their way onto the universities agenda. Additionally, the challenge of obtaining financing for such positions is significant in times when budgets for academia keep getting tighter.

So I expect it will take a while for issues of gender and diversity to find their place as a central topic and become an integral part of teaching and learning. As institutions of higher education open up and the student body diversifies, I hope that gradually everyone will realize that incorporating perspectives that address gender and diversity into teaching can be beneficial on many levels for both students and instructors. And it will contribute to the development of teaching in higher education.

For more information, please refer to the Gender & Diversity website (currently only in German, but we offer support in English upon request)

Teaching and Learning in Higher Education & e-Didactics

Course Design Collection: Inspiration for your teaching

At end of 2020, the Department for Study Affairs has launched the Course Design Collection (Lehrkonzepte-Sammlung) where the instructors at the University of Oldenburg can present their course designs. Browse through the collection and get inspired!  The blog is currently available only in German.

You would like to present your own course? Then email us at . English contributions are welcome.

Technology Decision Tool: Find the right fit for your course

Do you need help in deciding what technology is the best fit for your online course? E-Didactics has created a decision tool to make the selection easier: Click through a few questions about your course to get suggestions about suitable Stud.IP extensions and other software offered by the University that can help you implement your teaching and learning activities in an online classroom (currently available only in German).

Technology Decision Tool

Lunchtime Meetings Special: Flipped classroom

Even after two online semesters, the questions about course design for remote teaching abound. With three Lunchtime Meetings in June and July we will present and explore the flipped classroom model. The session on 17 June will provide a general introduction to the flipped classroom approach. On 30 June, instructors from School I, II, and V will present a few examples from their own practice; they will discuss how they flip the classroom and combine different types of learning – in-person and remote, synchronous and asynchronous, individual and in a group. On 13 July, we will present some of the digital tools that can help you in flipping the classroom. The Lunchtime Meetings Special will be held in German.

  • Thursday, 17 June 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: The Flipped Classroom Concept
  • Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 12:30-2:00pm: UOL Instructors Present Their Flipped-Classroom Designs
  • Tuesday, 13 July 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: Tools for the Flipped Classroom

Lunchtime Meetings currently take place remotely on BBB. For further dates and detailed information, please refer to the events page on the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education website or to the e-Didactics blog.

Tips for interactive teaching in online courses and workshops

Perhaps you have already encountered some of these problems as an instructor: students do not turn on their microphones or cameras, it is difficult for them to get to know each other or talk to the instructors. The Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (HFD) has created a collection of activities that can help you and your students get to know each other and create a sense of community in your online courses and workshops.  Digitale Vertrauens- und Take-A-Break-Karten (available only in German).


Research-Based Learning grants awarded

In February, a selection committee consisting of representatives from all schools as well as two student representatives and acting under the auspices of the Vice President for Instruction and International Affairs, Prof. Dr. Verena Pietzner has made a decision. Six student projects researching the topic Future and six instructional projects employing research-based learning practices will receive funding and will be carried out in the summer semester. The student research projects will present their results at the Day of Teaching and Learning (25 November 2021). Instructional projects will be published at the end of the semester in the University of Oldenburg’s Course Designs Collection.

For an overview of funded student and instructional projects, please visit the forschen@studium website.

Call for proposals: Grants for Research-Based Learning instructional projects in Winter Semester 2021/22 (deadline: 14 June)

The Research-Based Learning Grant Program aims to assist faculty and instructors at the University of Oldenburg in implementing research-based learning methods in their courses. For the Winter Semester 2021/22, instructors can apply for grants for courses or other activities supporting research-based learning (for instance, funding for student assistants or material resources). The deadline for proposals is 14 June 2021.

Follow this link for the call for proposals and the application form.

Internal Surveys

The Faculty Survey of the Presidential Board for the Winter Semester 2020/21: Results are online!

The Faculty Survey for the Winter Semester 2020/21 provides the University of Oldenburg’s Presidential Board with valuable information about how the past remotely taught semester went, what challenges instructors faced, what worked better than in the previous semester, and what suggestions for improvement for the Summer Semester 2021 instructors might have. This data helps the Presidential Board in finding appropriate measures for the future.

The following link will take you to the Internal Surveys website where you can find the complete evaluation report, results sorted by school, and a short summary. If you are interested in seeing students’ assessment of the online semester, the link above will also take you to the results of the First-Year Student Survey and Student Survey for the Winter Semester 2020/21. All results are in German.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the office of Internal Surveys at .

Digital Teaching Analysis Poll (digiTAP): Qualitative, mid-semester review for instructors

Starting in the Summer Semester 2021, the Department for Study Affairs (Internal Surveys and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) will offer instructors a qualitative, mid-semester review of remotely taught courses. The Digital Teaching Analysis Poll (digiTAP) is intended for faculty and instructors who want to hear more from their students' perspective about learning in the current semester, in order to be able to make appropriate changes to their course design if necessary. Our trained facilitators carry out the digiTAP and evaluate the results. This feedback method has already been used successfully in recent years for in-person course evaluation at the University of Oldenburg.

As part of the digiTAP, the instructor briefly leaves the online meeting while students reflect on the learning in the course. The TAP team moderates the discussion and asks students specific questions: What in this class assists your learning most?  What hinders your learning in this class? What suggestions might you have for improving this class? The answers are then reviewed and discussed with all students in class. For instance, the digiTAP team uses the polling function in BigBlueButton to determine what the majority of students think contributes to or hinders their learning in the course.

Shortly thereafter, the instructor is informed about the results in a confidential follow-up meeting. In the following class, the instructor can discuss the results with the students.

To learn more or sign up, please visit the TAP website. Please note that the number of spots is limited and that we are unable to accept any more registrations for the Summer Semester 2021. If you are interested, you can consider the digiTAP when planning your course(s) for the Winter Semester 2021/22 .

Quality assurance in teaching and learning

Institutional Accreditation (Systemakkreditierung)

The University of Oldenburg is in in the process of transitioning to Institutional Accreditation (Systemakkreditierung), whose prerequisite was the development of a quality management system (QMS) for teaching and learning. The QMS for the University of Oldenburg has been developed over the past year and a half and the testing phase has started at the beginning of this year. The first pilot accreditations are currently in process. Furthermore, degree program conferences will be introduced at all schools in 2021 as the core element of the QMS. At the degree program conferences, participating teachers and students will discuss study and degree program related questions using standardized report sheets. This will provide data, which will subsequently be analyzed and serve as the foundation for future measures for the degree program development. The conferences will be organized once a year by the degree program director. The conference report sheet will be submitted to the relevant academic commission and, if necessary, forwarded to other departments. It will also available as the basis for the following accreditation.

For more information, please refer to the Institutional Accreditation (Systemakkreditierung) website.


INSTEP has been launched: International Study Entry Phase

The INSTEP program has been launched in the summer semester 2021 with the goal of supporting international students in their transition to university life. INSTEP provides assistance to international students during initial stages of their program and to prospective students in preparing for their studies. International and prospective international students can take advantage of various offerings designed to meet their needs, such as language courses, workshops for developing academic and intercultural skills, mentoring services and much more. We also support instructors in advising international students and help them establish new offerings when necessary, so we look forward to hearing your ideas. For more information, please refer to the INSTEP page or email us at  

New teaching development grants

Funding program Innovation Plus: Six new projects at the University of Oldenburg

As part of the funding program Innovative Teaching and Learning Concepts: Innovation Plus by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science (MWK), six new projects at the University of Oldenburg have received grants. Over the next two semesters, the six instructional projects will receive around €285.000 in order to stimulate sustainable teaching development. The funded projects are in the following departments: pedagogy, economics, astrophysics, music, mathematics and psychology.

As part of the Innovation Plus funding program, the State of Lower Saxony awards grants for projects that develop innovative teaching and learning designs. The main objective of this line of funding is to promote development of modules (or parts thereof).

To learn more about the funded projects at the University of Oldenburg and for details about the call for proposals, please visit the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education website.


A European Network for Digital Undergraduate Research (digiUR): Strategic partnership (Erasmus+)

This Strategic Partnership (Erasmus+) includes five European universities and two associated organizations. With the focus on both innovative practices in the digital era and the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic, the common goal is to advance digital undergraduate research in Europe. In the long term, we aim to strengthen the undergraduate research network in Europe and improve its global integration. At the University of Oldenburg, we will develop an online course module with training materials for developing digital competences and skills among university educators for undergraduate research.

To lean more, visit the digiUR website.

Project partners

  • University of Oldenburg, coordinated by the the Department for Study Affairs, online course development at the Center for Lifelong Learning (C3L)
  • Université de Paris, with the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
  • Universität Wien, with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
  • LCC International University (Klaipéda, Litauen)
  • University of Warwick (UK) 

Associated Organizations

  • PH Luzern  
  • US Council on Undergraduate Research

For your students

E-Didactics Tutorial: BigBlueButton for students

A video introduction to BigBlueButton (BBB) videoconferencing system used at the University of Oldenburg (video available only in German).

Note: To access and copy the direct YouTube link click on the three dots (top right) in the video.

Grant program Research-Based Learning

The grant program Research-Based Learning offers funding all year round for students at the University of Oldenburg. Students can apply for travel grants when presenting at conferences and congresses as well as for funding for material and other costs in research projects done as part of curricular university courses (excluding final theses).

For more information, please refer to the forschen@studium website.

Self-paced WordPress course for students

For students interested in learning more about WordPress blogs, a WordPress tutorial is available on Stud.IP. Designed as a self-paced course, this tutorial helps students to learn the basics of WordPress, such as how to create posts and pages and structure them by categories and keywords. Students will also learn how to embed images, videos, or interactive learning modules in WordPress. The course is in German.

This link will take students directly to the course:

Upcoming events and dates

Planning, implementing and developing teaching: Professional development for faculty and instructors

Workshops, short presentations or exchange with other teachers: With a wide range of offerings, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education provides resources and support to faculty and instructors in their teaching. For our current program, please refer to the events page on the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education website. Our workshops and courses are mostly in German, but they can be offered in English upon request.

In addition, you can complete the Certificate Program Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, which is recognized as the State of Lower Saxony University Teaching Certificate.

E-Didactics Lunchtime Meetings

Roughly once a month, e-Didactics organizes Lunchtime Meetings, in which instructors can learn more about teaching with digital technology. Upcoming events:

  • Thursday, 29 April 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: Organization and Communication in Large Courses
  • Wednesday, 05 May 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: Interactive Online Classes on BigBlueButton (in German)
  • Tuesday, 11 May 2021m, 12:30-1:30pm Interactive Online Classes on BigBlueButton (in English)
  • Thursday, 17 June 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: The Flipped Classroom Concept
  • Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 12:30-2:00pm: UOL Instructors Present Their Flipped-Classroom Designs
  • Tuesday, 13 July 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: Tools for the Flipped Classroom
  • Tuesday, 03 August 2021, 12:30-1:30pm: More than reference management: Organizing knowledge with Citavi and working in teams (in cooperation with the Library and Information System (BIS)).

Lunchtime Meetings currently take place remotely on BBB. For further dates and detailed information, please refer to the courses and events page on the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education website or to the e-Didactics blog.

Save the Date: Day of Teaching and Learning, 25 November 2021

The fifth Day of Teaching and Learning (Tag des Lehrens und Lernens, TdLL) wil take place on 25 November 2021 and will explore exams in the academic education.

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