Vancouver calling: International exchange on teaching and learning with the Montgelas Program

Global South, TUM Global, News |

In today's globalized world, knowledge exchange between educational institutions from different parts of the world is becoming increasingly important. Universities attach great importance to strengthening their international networks and exchanging innovative ideas. What better way to establish international contacts than to go abroad and get to know the country and its people up close? Cornelia Entner and Thekla Truebenbach, employees of ProLehre, thought so, too. They took advantage of the opportunity offered by the Maximilian Graf Montgelas program and spent two weeks at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.

"When we heard about the exchange opportunity through Montgelas, we became curious. Exchange and networking between educational systems are enormously important, especially given the opportunities and challenges that the last few years have brought in the field of higher education didactics," Cornelia Entner describes her motivation to apply for funding through the Montgelas Program. 

Their supervisor, Andreas Fleischmann, Director of ProLehre | Media and Didactics, strongly supported his two employees in their endeavors. They also received help from Daniel Holl, Program Manager of the Montgelas Program, who provided advice and support to the two candidates for the grant, not only during the application process. In August 2023, Entner and Truebenbach set off for Canada's West Coast to the UBC – carrying a great deal of thirst for knowledge as well as reports about their work at ProLehre.

German-Canadian exchange on online teaching and artificial intelligence

The great hospitality of the Canadian colleagues from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), whom the two ProLehre employees met, was remarkable. Similar to ProLehre at TUM, CTLT at UBC is dedicated to the professional development of teachers. "We were thrilled by how much time the staff from various CTLT teams took to get to know us and report on their work," says Thekla Truebenbach. 

Higher education didactic topics have been undergoing a major change, especially since the pandemic and the rise of online teaching, but also since the emergence of AI tools such as ChatGPT. How are colleagues in Canada dealing with this? Do they face the same challenges, but also the same opportunities for development as we do at TUM? What strategies do they use and what experiences have they had? 

To test new technologies, the UBC colleagues use their Emerging Media Lab. Similar to the Innovation Lab at ProLehre, lecturers are given the space to test innovative teaching technologies. One project of the Canadian Emerging Media Lab, for example, was dedicated to testing an artificial intelligence that was applied in the field of medical education: It simplified diagnostic procedures in the field of radiology.

Learning about Canadian culture in everyday working life

The reports offered a lot of substance to enter into dialogue. The subsequent reflection on one's own work was greatly facilitated by the fact that the Montgelas program made it possible for both ProLehre employees to be sent to Canada.

Of course, exploring the new surroundings is also more fun when you are traveling with someone. Cornelia Entner and Thekla Truebenbach used their time in Vancouver for this purpose as well. "The cultural exchange was just as enriching as the professional one. Vancouver is a very diverse and lively city and because we weren't there as tourists, but were involved in everyday work in Canada and our local supervisor even took time for us on weekends, we were able to experience first-hand what makes the country and its people tick." 

Whale watching, hiking in the rainforest, or sunbathing on the city beach – all of these experiences not only made the trip to Canada's West Coast a tremendous professional opportunity but also personally enriched the ProLehre employees and made lasting memories. 

After two intensive weeks, the two returned to TUM – this time in their luggage: a thirst for knowledge that has been somewhat quenched, a lot of motivation to bring new perspectives to the work at ProLehre, exciting stories that might also motivate colleagues to take the step abroad, and above all: great gratitude for the opportunities that TUM offers its employees with its Montgelas Program.

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