The IT 4 Forest team members are involved in teaching and learning at the University of Sustainable Development in Eberswalde. Our philosophy:
We see the use of digital technologies and media as an innovation and obligation for our future-oriented university teaching. Since digital technologies are a natural part of (young) people’s lives, we want to introduce students to the reflected and professional use of new media and forms of communication for education and science. Digitalisation is both an opportunity and a challenge for teaching and studying forest related and environmental sciences.
Members of the IT4Forest team have been actively involved in several international Curriculum Development projects. In the framework of Erasmus+ projects GEOS4S and BioEcoN new multidisciplinary learning materials were developed, tested and delivered. Intensive learning period or so-called summer school enable a direct feedback from student to new didactic materials. By learning in a multicultural environment, students during the summer school acquire frames of reference, forms and communicative practices to cooperate, negotiate and collaborate both in specific cultures and intercultural situations. Besides modernizing curricula, involved students’ benefit as their intercultural awareness is strengthen by the complementary activities of the Erasmus+ action.
Since 2016, the HNEE is experimenting with didactic methods using augmented reality, digital twins and virtual 3D learning sites . The so-called 3D interactive “immersive learning space” bridges the barriers of space and time for learners and, through the use of Augmented Reality, it is also possible to focus on invisible or non-analogue parameters in ecosystems. Immersive Learning Spaces and virtual 3D excursions are designed to enable learners at virtual visit of real-world objects by means of virtual 3D worlds. These virtual excursions and immersive 3D learning locations of the HNEE will be supplemented by scientifically enriched simulations and individual and individual learning activities, which are part of the cognitive constructivism and of experiential learning in real laboratories.
Co-creating learning materials
Co-creation originally stemming from product innovation can benefit academic teaching as the students actively participate in the learning process, constructing understanding and resources in the process. An example of co-creating is the production of virtual tours by students. Where students use their geo-informatics and their forestry knowledge to produce a virtual tour that enables further generation of students to learn about the location in focus. In other courses, students collect data that they will continue analysing in different modules. They create their own data base and learning materials.
Service Learning with involvement
Service learning combines academic learning with civic engagement in the form of service to communities or institutions. Service learning embraces learning by doing through students which thereby acquire and improve social competences and soft skills. By applying knowledge in practice and linking academic content with life experience, students more easily recognise the relevance of the subject which facilitates anchoring skills and knowledge more deeply. Examples of service learning – encouraged by the IT 4 Forest – are a virtual tour for the Grumsin national park, mapping of allotment gardens in Eberswalde or detecting forest threats for a forest estate – to name only a few.