Shaping digital education together

The University of Bayreuth and the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv are advancing the digitalisation of studying and teaching through mutual exchange. German-Ukrainian project tandems are supporting the setting up of innovative teaching and learning processes.

Nicolai Teufel (second from left), head of the project Learnopolis at the University of Bayreuth, in an exchange with partners from the project “Entrepreneurship4All”

Global challenges can only be overcome by combining forces. That is why the United Nations relies on international cooperation: partnerships for solving global problems are explicitly supported as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17. Learnopolis, the German-Ukrainian university partnership, demonstrates how joint structures can be created at the academic level in a swift, effective and practice-oriented manner.

The universities in Bayreuth and Lviv are collaborating closely in this project, which was launched at the end of 2019, to increase capacities for the internationalisation and digitalisation of knowledge transfer. “This cooperation is especially important under corona conditions,” says Alla Paslawska, professor and project staff member at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. The DAAD-funded project uses tutorials and training courses to pass on know-how and offer guidance on the processes and possibilities of deploying digital tools.

A mature partnership

Nicolai Teufel, project manager at the University of Bayreuth, is convinced that flexible interconnected knowledge will be essential in the future. “Digital formats cannot replace direct interchange,” says the research associate at the Centre for Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (FBZHL). “However, they enable close and productive cooperation between higher education partners – even across frontiers.” Teufel sees challenges above all in the interaction of analogue and digital offerings. “E-learning must also satisfy didactic and pedagogical requirements,” he emphasises.  The project teams in Bayreuth and Lviv see themselves as catalysts that support all forms of German-Ukrainian cooperation in teaching and research. They consider it important to orient ideas and methods towards the individual needs of users and universities.

Prof. Dr. Alla Paslawska  producing a video tutorial

The partnership between the two universities has grown organically. Beginning with collaboration between the respective geography departments, Learnopolis has given the universities the opportunity to broaden their cooperation to all levels. “The special thing about this project is the fact that the participants first learn something new themselves, engage in training and then pass on their knowledge,” says Alla Paslawska. The joint training of so-called departmental ambassadors anchors competences and methods directly in the partner universities’ departments and libraries.

Always focus on concrete needs

The training courses focus on concrete aspects of internationalisation: how can I find a partner for an international project, how do I design it and what do I need to consider in articles about it for international periodicals? The partnership’s latest results and advances are regularly published on university and Learnopolis websites. “That’s how we arouse interest and attract more and more new participants,” explains the linguist Paslawska. Knowledge transfer does not only benefit teaching. Organisational tasks, such as the digital planning and evaluation of courses or the coordination of meetings and examinations, can also be brought up-to-date with the latest digital technology. Four German-Ukrainian project tandems are testing potential subject-related applications of digital tools, for example, in the areas of Libraries and Open Access as well as Language, Translation and Digitalisation.

Meeting in Bayreuth with visitors from Lviv

Learnopolis is relying on innovative methods, very much as envisaged by the United Nations: quality education is a central element of the 2030 Agenda as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Tangible advances have been made at the University of Lviv in the wake of the joint digitalisation project. At the beginning of 2020 a new interpreting room was made available and equipped with software for computer-assisted translation at the Chair for Intercultural Communication and Translation Studies. The university library is continuously digitising its valuable old collection and historical periodicals and organised a bilateral exchange of experience for the staff of the libraries in Bayreuth and Lviv. Joint training courses on the subject of e-learning are demonstrating, among other things, how to produce training videos and develop digital exercises for teaching purposes.

The EU has also acknowledged the advances made by the German-Ukrainian partnership: from January 2021 the University of Lviv will receive funding from the Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education programme. It supports innovations in higher education and the exchange of proven procedures. The partner for the project, which would like to set up centres for good higher education teaching at eight Ukrainian universities, is the University of Bayreuth. The decision to take this direction was made at a meeting between the university administrations in December 2019. Alla Paslawska says: “The best thing about Learnopolis is that we have so many plans.”


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DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service