eTeach Network Thuringia: New contact person at TU Ilmenau

In the course of digitalization, Thuringia's universities have continuously developed technologies and tools for media-enriched teaching and learning, advancing this process in a variety of ways since the beginning of the pandemic: Existing technical infrastructure has been expanded, teaching methods questioned, and new formats tested and established. These activities are bundled in the “eTeach Network Thuringia”, a coalition of all universities and universities of applied sciences in the state to cooperatively develop and refine digitally enriched university teaching. At the TU Ilmenau, Martin Backhaus has now started his work as the new contact person of the eTeach Network, building a bridge between the university and the network, thereby directly supporting lecturers at TU Ilmenau.

Frau sitzt vor zwei Bildschirmen Bauhaus-Universität Weimar/Matthias Eckert

The immense added value of innovative digital tools and formats for teaching at universities is beyond all question. Especially since spring 2020, e-learning and e-teaching have become an indispensable part of everyday life for students and lecturers in a way that no one would have expected just a few years ago. In order to take advantage of opportunities of this rapid development and to efficiently master accompanying challenges, the eTeach Network Thuringia was launched in 2021, funded by the Thuringian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society.

Controlled by the project management at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, the network sees itself as an innovation-driving force for university teaching in Thuringia. A department of specialists located in Weimar uses its expertise to promote the development of abilities and skills at the universities, for example by gathering experiences from Covid-affected semesters to create a “Best Practice Platform”, as well as providing insights into short-term projects of the network, so called impulse projects. In addition, lecturers are supported with further training for digital applications, how to prepare them didactically and how to successfully integrate them into teaching.

In order to anchor this work, there is a, so called, contact person at each participating university – since April 2022 also at the Central Institute for Continuing Education (Zentralinstitut für Bildung – ZIB) at the TU Ilmenau under direction of the Vice President for Learning and Teaching. The new eTeach contact person is Martin Backhaus. For this task, the 33-year-old brings relevant experience in university teaching from his previous work as an academic staff member at the Department of Telematics and Computer Networks at TU Ilmenau and has already been intensively involved with digitally supported teaching – video production, content maintenance in Moodle courses, as well as online seminars and hybrid teaching formats.

Knowledge transfer and consulting in all aspects of digital university teaching

The scientist is looking forward to promote knowledge transfer between the network and TU Ilmenau, thereby contributing to the digitalization of learning, teaching and examinations:

Rarely, lecturers at universities are in the position to deal exclusively with tools for digital teaching and digital teaching concepts. After all, research, organization, and management activities are at least as important and take up a significant part of their daily work. It is therefore all the more important that lecturers now have a contact person at the interface to the expertise of the entire network in order to obtain valuable advice if needed.

He is setting up a consultation hour at our university in the near future, enabling lecturers to discuss all questions and topics related to digitally supported teaching. In addition, they can direct their inquiries to the new contact person at Martin Backhaus:

This way, we create a forum to both gather our lecturers' needs and to make the expertise of the network available in a suitable manner.

At the same time, Backhaus says, efficient processes for digital teaching and the use of appropriate tools are to be established, for example, in order to maintain high-quality hybrid teaching with reasonable effort – on a par with teaching in physical presence:

Pursuing these goals to the benefit of all participants and in reconciliation with indispensable constraints such as protection of data privacy and accessibility are special challenges, for which the exchange in the network is extremely valuable.

News from the network

With the projects "Immersive Learning Platform Thuringia" and "Virtual Product Development", two impulse projects of the eTeach network are already based at the TU Ilmenau. Teachers at Thuringia's universities are invited to submit further ideas for innovative digital tools that will didactically enrich learning, teaching and testing as part of the call for proposals for the winter semester.

On May 20, 2022, the network also launched a new round of free training for student eTutors on topics such as Moodle, video production, and eExams. Students receive a certificate for the training courses and are then expected to make the knowledge they have acquired available to the departments, for example as student assistants. To the registration



Martin Backhaus

eTeach-Kontaktstelle am Zentralinstitut für Bildung der TU Ilmenau