eLene4Life held its 4th multiplier event online on 21st April 2021 as a panel entitled “Digital skills for the job market – Active learning & soft skills – practical experience and recommendations”. The event was held as part of the DiGi-Talk event series of the Virtual Campus Rheinland-Pfalz (VCRP), the e-learning coordinating institute of the state of Rheinland-Pfalz.

The speakers were:

  • Dr. Yildiray Ogurol, Managing Director ZMML, University of Bremen – Germany
  • Till Rümenapp, Lecturer/Researcher University of Bremen – Germany

Dr. Konrad Faber (Head of VCRP) moderated the event.

The panelists targeted their interventions around some guiding questions:

  • What is the current importance of soft skills in higher education in Germany?
  • How do the skills developed in university studies relate to the needs in the job market? Is it actually the job of universities to provide them for the corporate sector?
  • Inside out – outside in: How was the interplay between university and company perspectives in the project?
  • Employability – a colorful term: How can higher education contribute to this?
  • Digitization – digital transformation in science, business and society (before – during – after Corona), What contribution can eLene4Life or the above-mentioned subjects and areas of knowledge make?

Dr. Yildiray Ogurol presented the eLene4Life project and its findings. He focused on lessons learned from eLene4Life project, especially LLK#2 which draws together the Dynamic Toolkit (DT) and results from its use by HE teachers in Pilot Projects. Till Rümenapp presented the methodology and implementation of active learning in higher education, the Dynamic Toolkit (DT) and his experience gathered within his own pilot project as lecturer.

The results for LLK#2 were gathered from 15 pilots with 9 different methods from the DT with more than 830 students. The majority of pilots (67%) took place in bachelor courses involving first year students (45%). Due to the pandemic situation all courses had to be set up purely online, but without changing their learning goals. All teachers declared to be satisfied or very satisfied with the pilot experience and found the attention of the students to be high or very high. Overall, the students perceived many benefits from active learning ranging from fun to the capacity to look at problems from a different perspective. The lessons learned from these practical experiences are:

  • Carefully plan active learning to make it as effective as possible
  • Prepare the room of the learning environment in advance, even it’s online
  • The introductory lecture should explain how this method of teaching is different from traditional classes and let the students know the benefits. Training in soft skills is useful for their future and directly linked to their employability

The final discussion focused on the methodology of active learning and its effectiveness in supporting to train soft skills as well as the current developments in Germany in the field of education regarding key competencies, e.g. the activities of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) and University Forum on Digitization (HFD).

With regard to the above mentioned guiding questions, the following statements can be summarized:

  • At several German universities, a “Studium generale” is included in the study promoting comprehensive general education. Here, soft skills in the sense of eLene4Life are rather implicit.
  • Training for the corporate sector does not correspond to the self-image of universities in Germany: education vs. training.
  • Most universities contribute to employability with their career centers.
  • During the pandemic situation, digital soft skills are the basis for developing other soft skills. Agility and flexibility are more necessary than ever. Participation in education is hardly possible without digital skills. eLene4Life offers spaces for networking (CoP, MOOC) and offers the possibility to transfer classical teaching and learning methods to digital based on the DT.
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