BIP „Digital Competence“
New state-of-the-art teaching formats are taking hold at FHWS: From April to May, 15 students of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences of the FHWS are participating in a so-called 'Blended Intensive Program', short BIP. This program combines online teaching with short-term mobility while students, as well as lecturers, have the chance to gain transnational insights into different learning cultures and spend time abroad without having to do a lot of planning. During this lecture, which is conducted in cooperation with the FH Kärnten in Austria, the VID in Norway and the DIAK in Finland, teaching and learning takes place online in transnational teams for four weeks before all participants meet together for an 'Intensive Week' - a week of intensive joint work - in Helsinki. 15 students from each Germany, Austria, and Finland will participate in this event, as well as lecturers from all involved universities. For the kick-off event on April 19, 2022 the students were divided into seven teams with participants from each of the three universities. The program is supported by staff from the University of VID in Norway and Coordination and the FHWS 3IN project.
What is a BIP?
A blended intensive program, short BIP, is an innovative, new teaching format where university courses are organised by lecturers of several universities. Students of all participating universities study together within the digital space as well as intensively during one week of presence teaching at one of the partner universities. This is financed through Erasmus funds, thus by the European Union. The low student contribution creates low-threshold access. As the language of teaching is English, a certain level of language proficiency is required, however experience has shown that students fulfil this with ease if they studied English in school for some years. A BIP gives easy access to transnational teaching and short-term mobility for all students. Students can get the course credited for their own respective study programs at their own universities and will also receive a certificate of participation by the partner university DIAK. Additionally, a BIP provides the opportunity for students to experience time abroad during their studies without having to go abroad for an entire semester. Thus, it is also a great opportunity for students, who cannot spend an entire semester abroad for various reasons, to still gain some international study experiences.
Digital competence in the international course
The BIP ‘Digital Competence’ shall enable students to enhance their skills in digital competence and virtual studying, but at the same time also learn more about digitalisation within social services, access to digital spaces, artificial intelligence, virtual realities and design thinking. Apart from gaining knowledge about technologies, ethical principles of digital work as well as possibilities that digital competence offers social workers, the students will also learn to apply the principles of design thinking and work in transnational teams.
Kick-Off Event for the BIP ‘Digital Competence’
The kick-off event on April 19th, 2022, officially gave the go-ahead for the program. Here, not only the contents were presented, but also all organisational matters clarified: During the next four weeks the students will work together in transnational teams and receive new assignments weekly. During the Kick-Off event the lecturing team who organised and realise the course together introduced themselves as well as other members of the organising team. After an introduction into organisational matters, clarification on the procedure and the possibilities to ask questions, the students were put into their groups for the course of the program and were able to start working on the first task that deals with virtual team building.
How does the program work?
Teaching takes place digitally and asynchronous during the course period to provide access to the course to all students. As there are students of three different universities, as well as of different years studying together in this course, asynchronous teaching fits best as it is a flexible possibility of knowledge dissemination. Teaching and the tasks will be taken over by lecturers of a different university each week: Thus, students began to work on assignments provided by Olli Vesterinen (DIAK) and Marvin Hoffland (FH Kärnten), in the second week Daniela Ströckl (FH Kärnten) will be responsible for the contents and Ulrich Gartzke (FHWS) will take over the teaching in the third week. Everything is organised on the platform ‘Howspace’, which is available for use as a digital cloud-platform for this format and through which all contents can be communicated with the students, discussions on questions about content and organisational matters can be solved, but also assignments handed in and direct contact to the lecturers can be sought. The fourth week of the program is planned as a so called ‘intensive week’. Then all students and lecturers will meet in presence in Helsinki and will do a Hackathon in intensive units.
Ulrich Gartzke, responsible lecturer at FHWS, has already carried out Hackathons before and also is the responsible person for the method during this program. The term Hackathon comes from IT and is a word construction deriving from ‘to hack’ and ‘marathon’. During such an event, groups intensively work on a project and try to find solutions for current problems that will then presented to judges. The Hackathon in Helsinki will take five days and deal with real challenges in the fields of social work and healthcare. Exactly which task is to be completed remains a secret. This, the teams will find out in Helsinki.
During the current summer semester another BIP is taking place in the bachelor studies of ‘Social Work’ at FHWS, the responsible lecturer here is Vera Taube. More of these BIPs are planned in the upcoming semesters at FAS to give students and lecturers more flexible options of going abroad. BIPs give lecturers the opportunity to teach transnationally, involve short-term mobility into their semester and carry out their courses within an international team. For students, this format provides the unique opportunity to learn transnationally during the courses at their home university and also to travel during periods of short-term mobility. This course teaches not only valuable content but also necessary competencies, expands the horizon and certainly holds a memorable time in store.