Bonjour au Luxembourg! Wëllkomm zu Lëtzebuerg! Willkommen in Luxemburg!


When we arrived in Luxembourg it was snowing, and it felt like a real winter wonderland. We used the public transport system to move around the city and later visit the different campuses of the University of Luxembourg. Our first impression was, that it is a very simple and clever system, which is understandable for every visitor coming to the city. It is very progressive that the government has decided that the public transport system is going to be free for everyone as of 2020. Already today a certain group of citizens (e.g. children, students or elderly people) do not have to pay to use it.

The main campus of the University of Luxembourg is located at Campus Belval near the French boarder and 30 minutes by train away from Luxembourg city. However, older campuses also still exist in Luxemburg city as for example the Campus Kirchberg or Campus Limpertsberg. It is the aim to move them all to the Belval Campus. The first three days of our exchange, we worked at the “Luxembourg Learning Centre“ at the Belval Campus. It is an impressive building, which was opened in September 2018. The workspace was created and designed for different learning settings (e.g. individual, small or bigger groups, working together on a screen). Even if you need to make a call or take a nap there are special places to go to. The building is very stimulating, modern and forward looking, which we find missing at our university at home.

20181120_100816 20181120_101110

Learning Center indoor 1  Learning Center work space 1 Learning Center Arbeitsflächen 2  Learning Center relax areaLearning Center phone box

In the middle of the week, we were lucky to meet our CETE-partner and supervisor Prof. Dr. Charles Max. He had organized our stay at the university, helped us to get our “external staff“ patches from the security and showed us our office in the „Maison du Nombre“ building on campus. Due to one of our patches only opening the buildings entry and the other patch only the door to the office, we had to stick together and were always known as the “scholar twins“. Fun fact: some of the walls in the building are to write on with a washable marker and were used by the staff as well as the students.

Our office at Campus Belval

20181122_172705  20181122_172655

Discovering Luxemburg City

After the first week had gone by so fast, we were starting to discover our new home. Luxembourg is a multicultural and multilingual city with a monarchy. The city counts 114,303 inhabitants. In addition, thousands of people commute on a daily base from France, Germany or Belgium to Luxembourg, which makes the streets and public transportsystem very crowded.

For such a small capital city it has a lot to offer. In the old city center we visited the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Luxembourg from the 17th century. Next to it is the National Library and one of the many Christmas Markets of the city. Especially when it gets dark it looks magical due to the city’s Winterlights Festival. And even the faculty was decorated.


20181201_190409 Christmas spirit at Camus Belval

The museums of Luxembourg are free for students. We used this opportunity and visited the Musée national d’histoire et d’art and a special photography exhibition by the New York Times called „Hard Truth“ in the city’s town house.

Discovering the old city center Bank in the city center    Old City Philharmonics Walk around the old city

Besides all the sightseeing we still focused on our academic work. We were able to reach our first mile stones of this exchange. These included finishing an article on the attributional explanations of primary-school pupils for individual success and failure on technological tasks  as well as developing a coding system on technological problem-solving. We also had the opportunity to present our Ph.D. thesis in a private four-hour colloquium with Prof. Dr. Charles Max. It was a very productive consultation with new ideas and reflections on our work.

Work, work, work…

As noted before, the university is still divided in different campuses. We also wanted to have a look at the Campus Kirchberg and Campus Limpertsberg. While the Faculties Engineering Sciences are located at the Campus Kirchberg, the Campus Limpertsberg focuses on a Physics and Materials Science Research Unit. These two campuses were older and greener but did not offer any work space or libraries for students.

University Campus Limpertsberg

During this time, we wanted to reach our next milestones to write about the primary-school pupils concept of abilities in technology and test the developed code system on sample videos. To survive the amount of work, we tried many different coffee places and cafeterias. Charles Max recommended the Brasserie des Sciences Humaines. Tip for the next visitors: The best coffee place is in the Belval Shopping Centre right next to the University.

When we were discovering the city and its district Kirchberg a little bit more, we visited the Philharmonie and the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. From the Ascenseur Elevator at the Plateau St. Esprit at the city centre you could reach the district “Grund“ next to the river Alzette. There you can find the Musée National d’histoire naturelle, which is a great place for families. On our way home, we discovered the many different chocolate stores in Luxembourg, with delicious chocolate from Luxembourg, Belgium as well as France. With the end of the third week, we thought it was time to greet our colleagues and family at home and bought some postcards.

Academic talks and exchanges before saying au revoir

At the beginning of our final week, we started preparing a talk to present and discuss our research projects and first results with several members of the faculty. It was a great and intense exchange with people from different academic backgrounds. For this reason, we would like to thank Charles Max, Melissa, Haythem, Sammah and Zohreh. After hearing a presentation on a project that uses a robot to guide visitors around the Luxemburg City Museum, we were very curious about it and visited this museum as well.

However, after four weeks on campus, we had to say au revior and give back our “external staff“ patches and leave our office on campus behind. At the end of our time in Luxemburg we can say, that it is still not clear to us which language to use on a daily basis. We always switched between French, English and German. However, we could improve our French language skills and now understand a little bit more Luxembourgian (Lëtzebuergisch).

Text by Annika and Victoria


Posted in Luxembuorg 2018 | Leave a comment

How my exchange supported me in not only becoming an English teacher, but also a culture teacher

From May 2017 I knew that I’d be back in the UK only seven months later. I only moved abroad for a longer time once before, so I felt like I needed to prepare everything neatly. I organised my other jobs and my flat from Germany, I bought a whole lot of travel guides, I watched British TV (more than I probably should have) and I read about 1000 blog posts all called something like “How to: England”. So, when I finally arrived in London in December I already ticked all the boxes of my England-to-prepare-/to-know-list, and felt well prepared. It only took four days for me to lose my first flat and have to begin from scratch once again. Little did I know at this time that I’d move about 5 times in the next seven months. Usually I like to prepare everything accurately in advance, but thanks to this exchange, I became more flexible and spontaneous, because there was no other way to make it through it without those abilities. In addition to this, I learnt a lot about the housing crises in metropoles, as well as the local economics and privatising of property, which belongs to an experience abroad like local food and everything else. Talking about food, living in London has more to offer than only Mac ’n Cheese (which I by the way adore). There is great cuisine at every corner especially at places like the Brick Lane and a whole lot of fantastic restaurants, hosted among others by famous chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, so I treated myself more often than I probably should have with eating out in a city full of amazing opportunities. Especially on food markets for example in my favourite part of London: Shoreditch.

Bubble Waffle Tea Time

Also, I thought studying English for several years at University level would have prepared me for working in an English classroom, but working with young children in my second language was far more challenging than I ever thought. Transcribing their dialogs on tape was a task with a whole lot of obstacles, like mumbling, unclear speech, shy and very quiet students as well as special terminology, running outside the microphone reaching room and child slang. I can proudly say that I leant new vocabulary every day. But the language barrier was not as high as you might assume right now, there are always ways to communicate, one way or another.

As the research study took place at a school in Shephard’s Bush, London, I occasionally had to commute from London to Cambridge. The train rides with Elizabeth McGregor were always great fun, talking about the syllabus for next week and discussing interesting papers. I really appreciated the contrast from the multicultural, crazy, colourful London to the precious and calm Cambridgeshire, which felt more like home to me.

Brick lane mathematical bridge

But to be honest, having such a great colleague like Elizabeth McGregor makes every meeting fun, not only the train rides. Having only met once in May 2017 once and then a few months later working together with her every day, I was afraid that it could have turned out as a tense work relationship. But the opposite happened and instead we also met up privately for events like the Burns Night Dinner in Emmanuel College, excursions to the Royal Observatory or to watch the Royal Wedding together and I now count her as a friend of mine.

burns night royal observatory

She also suggested a lot of nice cultural afternoon activities to me like theatre plays with great reputations and her favourite museum exhibitions, from with I built an even more solid understanding of British culture. When I first came over I had an TO-DO-LIST that was quite long, and I tried to tick of one item of the list per day, even if it was just a nice coffee corner shop, that somebody recommended to me. So, I did and I soon found that the list wasn’t becoming any shorter. This is what London means to me, a city without limitations. Uncountable opportunities and one event after another. For example, it took me only like 10 minutes by tube to visit the Kensington Palace at the day after Baby Prince Louis was born, to see a few Britons bringing flowers and toys to the palace gate.

National Portrait gallery Kensington Palace Tag nach Louis geburt

I can’t wait to go back and tick a few more boxes off my list.

Helena Spyrou

Posted in Cambrisge 2018 | Leave a comment

How serendipity led me to Cambridge, again!

As Prof. Ehrmann from my University of Duisburg-Essen says, I believe that “luck” is a resource that you can collect and build up , if you’re willing to. Doing exactly this, I found myself back in the UK in December 2017, staying there until July 2018, but it was not only a lucky accident that led me there.

In May 2017 I went to Cambridge for the first time in my life (you can read about my experience here: and at the Ph.D. Colloquium I met Elizabeth McGregor, who does research on the tinkering experience. I listened to her talk with great interest, because I’ve never heard about the concept of tinkering before, but I immediately connected to it. Later that day at lunch, I couldn’t hold back my questions. Ms McGregor humoured me by answering them all, which in turn sparked my interest further. She recommended literature and we remained in touch even after I returned to Germany. As part of my studies as a budding English teacher, I’m expected to go abroad for a few months to gain experience. Prof. Winterbottom suggested I could support Ms McGregor in her work, a proposition I happily accepted. How could I have turned down an opportunity to work at Cambridge? CETE network supported me with an exchange scholarship and I still can’t believe how lucky I am to work as their research assistant. Everything fell perfectly in to place as it counted as my semester abroad, gave me practical experience in a school and gave me the deepest insight into working in academia that a BA-Student could possibly get. Which was eye-opening in more than one aspect, but I’ll come back to that later.

Newtons Appletree

I, being what I think is a typical Bachelors student in her early 20s, tend to select too many tasks all at once, just to make sure to not waste any time or potential. So I decided not only to work 5 days a week for Ms McGregor’s study, but also got myself an internship in the Natural History Museum in London, took over an afterschool project at the St. Stephens Primary School, were the study took place and continued to work for Prof. Mammes’ workgroup in Essen via working from home. My first weeks were Monday and Wednesday working from Ms McGregor’s home, coding the data we’ve gathered the week before and discussing educational concepts, Tuesday I worked in the NHM London in the Life Sciences Department and Thursday and Friday, gathering data and doing the afterschool project in the primary school. Each day when I came home, I also worked for my workgroup back home in Germany. It didn’t take too long for me to notice that this amount of work is too much for me, not to mention the additional stress of moving abroad, so I had to shift my time management to a more appropriate amount of tasks to finish each week, and that helped me a lot to regulate my working from home, which also was a new working system for me.

Diving into what I did all day long, starting, as it was my main focus, with Ms McGregor’s project about the facilitation of Tinkering. Our work-week started on Thursday, doing a marble machine Workshop, every week other students worked with us, and I facilitated and documented them and their work. Being a facilitator is different than being a teacher, so I prepared by reading a lot about this topic and being facilitated myself by Ms McGregor. On Fridays we returned to the school and invited a few students from the prior Workshop to a focus group, where we got an inner view of their thinking while they were tinkering. The following week from Monday to Wednesday we re-watched all the material we had collected from the workshop and focus group, began coding and also discussed specific situations and their labelling, as well as we developed our coding scheme from time to time.

NHML Ausweis

For the first ten weeks of my stay I participated in the “Banksian 21” Project of the Natural History Museum London, where 7 volunteers helped to digitise old herbarium specimens. We worked with pressed plants (some were hundreds of years old!), this includes cleaning them, fixing them, re-labelling them and entering their information onto a huge database. According to plan, this database will be used by botanical researchers all over the world starting in 2020. It was fascinating to work “behind the scenes” of my all-time favourite museum. I’m especially interested in botany, since I’m going to be a biology and English teacher, so this part of my exchange covered both subjects completely. Overall, the crossover effect of my exchange was particularly high, allowing me to combine my educational studies with practical classroom experience, the English language and culture, biology and working in academia.


On Thursday afternoons I took over the Science Club with Ms Kelly for the first term I went there. We worked with year 1, year 2, and two students of reception. Having tinkering on my mind we structured our Afternoon Science Club like a tinkering workshop and we worked with tasks like building automata, little LED-flashlights, linkages, and more activities rooted in STEM.  For the second term we offered the “Little Inventors Club” that focused more on problem solving without instructions from the teacher through design, make and play.

Throughout the 7+ months I stayed in the UK I didn’t stop being a research assistant in Prof. Mammes’ workgroup and helped with everything I could, only from about 550 km away.

(Additional for the German speaking blog reader, here is a newspaper-article about my exchange:



Text by Helena Spyrou

Posted in Cambrisge 2018 | Leave a comment

Greetings from Columbia

Hi there, at University of Duisburg-Essen (and in the rest of Europe):

Columbia University is great – in every sense: The so called “Mizzou” (University of Missouri) comprises about 35.000 students. And that is just a part of a whole system of several universities around Missouri (comparable with our UAMR). This so called “University of Missouri System“ comprises about 75.000 students and a staff of 17.000 people, as well as roundabout 6.000 professors teaching and doing research within about 25 different faculties. Furthermore, the University of Missouri System comprises a network with a strategic healthcare system, multiple research parks and incubators, agricultural research stations and a guest Network of small business and technology development centers, extension centers, telehealth network sites and so on.


The best aspect about “Mizzou” however are the “Mizzou-Tigers”, which play in the highest division of collegiate American Football. I was able to see them play on their opening game of the new season.

Americans are (somehow) crazy: Obviously they cannot play soccer, and even worse: they cannot brew beer at all. American students receive in comparison to Germany quite a lot, but however, they also have to pay about 20.000 dollars tuition fees a year. Although they get a lot for it in return, it is quite a lot of money for a German observer.

The faculty of education at Mizzou consists of six departments, one of them is occupied with STEM and lead by our famous networker professor Johannes Strobel (see picture taken in the library of the department).

IMG_0395  IMG_0397

Meanwhile, I had the time and the possibility to make some bibliographies and I found out, that in the whole USA there are roundabout 60 departments (e.g.: professors) who are focused upon STEM. In comparison to Germany, this is quite a lot. This is due to the fact that in every federal state of the US STEM is an integrated part of the curriculum, at least at the primary and secondary I level. Here, Germany can learn quite a lot from that. Although I have learned, that the overwhelming part of the American scientific literature is only to find within the university itself. That means, you need an account to get the Information you want. But if you have an account, most of the literature you have found is immediately online to receive – which is great. Here are the United States much more progressive than our German system, which is clearly stronger focused on printed scientific literature.

By doing some bibliography, I also found out, why it was that difficult to find some literature concerning VET and CVET in Germany: Whereas in international standards VET and CVET (Vocational Education and Training and Continuing vocational education and Training) is quite usual, since 2009 they have been referring to the term CTE (Career Training and Education). This however comprises within a completely new educational concept not only VET and CVET, but also academic pathways, which they try to include systematically within the vocational career pathways. This bridge between vocational and academic career pathways seems to be somehow comparable with those courses of study; we call “Duale Studiengänge” in Germany. This is very interesting, because the reasons for this educational reform were the same as in Germany: First permeability within the education system and second equal opportunities for all, especially for those, who belong in any way or for any reasons to the disadvantaged students. Seen from this point of view, the main problem of CTE/VET in the USA is caused by the same reason: The social prestige of CTE/VET is much lower than the social prestige of – for example – an academic education career. Thus, they try to strengthen the CTE sector to give the socially disadvantaged students a chance for (even higher) education.

To put it in a nutshell: It is possible to make very interesting research, to find new partners for doing research projects, but the basic problems within the education system and within the social stratification among the USA as a State are comparable to those in Europe and especially to those in Germany.

Something however, is not comparable, and that is the weather: We are having (at the beginning of September) nearly 35 degree celsius and a humidity of 80%; and that is the main reason, why I am finishing this blog now.

Happy to see You all again in Essen and to see you all next month in October during our next meeting.

Blog by Prof. Dr. Dieter Münk

Posted in Missouri 2017, USA | Leave a comment

Living in Delft

Yes, folks. This will be a blog post with no citations or other scientific stuff. It´s just about living in Delft! For those of the colleagues, who will stay at TU Delft in the future, I would like to share some experiences.

Depending on the duration of your stay, you can choose between staying in a hotel and renting a flat. In the past I made quite good experiences with or The following websites might be a good starting point to search for alternatives, especially to find an apartment for sub tenancy:

Döner Box

After your arrival there might come up questions like “Where to eat?”, “Where to shop?” or “Where to go out?”.

Let us start at the Delft campus. You will find there the Döner Company. It is located directly at the beginning of Mekeleweg near to the TU Delft Aula (location in google maps). There you can get fries, salad, pide, döner etc. and all for an affordable price. I chose the big döner box (extra spicy!) for less than 5 Euro and I was never disappointed. Interesting is the fact, that you find the name “Döner Company” with “ö” but also Doner Company with “o”. The students name it with “o” and I guess it is because in the Dutch language there is no “ö”. Language can be very interesting, can it not?

OK, let us go from the campus to the city of Deft. There, I recommend to plan a stay in the Bierfabriek in Delft (location in google.maps). Not only are the home-brewed beers, but also their grilled chicken good reasons to visit this place.

Bike lane
Bike lane in Delft

Another nice place was Umai, japans grill & sushi restaurant in Delft (location in google maps). From the outside it seems to be small and unimpressive but if you are inside of it, it is bigger than you might expect. Important advice: The All You Can Eat Menu can take about 1,5 – 2,0 hours. So, be there latest as two hours before they close! There are also many other alternatives, but in the case you do not want to eat every day in a restaurant, you can also buy your food in one of the local supermarkets. There are several and you can find nearly every company there (open this view in Google maps for a map with supermarkets around TU Delft).

As I already wrote, it makes sense to have a bike in Delft. Either you bring your own or you rent one. Another alternative is to buy a used bike. But this is only meaningful if you are there for more than two or three months. Calculate the break even between renting and buying depending on the time you stay. The bike paths are quite good in general.

The network of bike paths is exceptional, compared to Essen for instance. But be aware, at this bike paths there are also “bromfietsen” (mopeds) allowed. And they ride them quite fast. Additionally you have to share the lane with scooters for disabled and also with cargo bikes. To sum up, there is quite lot traffic on such a bike lane and you have to ride your “fietsen” (bike) carefully between the others. Advice: Always use a bicycle lock! The rate of bicycle theft is relatively high. So, enjoy your stay.


Blog by Dr. Christian Karl

Posted in The Netherlands, TU Delft | Leave a comment

CETE Enhanced Progress for Online Auction Game

Some of you may know my paper “Investigating the Winner’s Curse Based on Decision Making in an Auction Environment” (in: Simulation & Gaming Issue 47 (2016) No. 3, p. 324 – 345 ISSN: 1552-826X; 1046-8781). If not, have a look and of course cite it as often as you can :-). So, why do I mention this paper and what is the connection to my CETE-Exchange at TU Delft? First, I have to talk about the basics of this research. The majority of  bidding models focuses on the mark-up decision. Despite a large body of literature, particularly related to the construction industry, these bidding models largely ignore human behavior. The aim of this research was two folded. Firstly, I wanted to contribute to the potential use of business games to study the results of auction behavior in a construction business environment (games as a research tool). Results of this can be employed in industry context as well as in educational context. The second aim was to investigate the winner’s curse and its effects on individual companies and the market at all. The methodology for this study was rooted in game theory. The reasoning which leads to the winner’s curse is explored through a behavioral multi-actor experiment. For this, I developed a database-driven, online multiplayer auction game which served as a laboratory experiment (for details refer to this web page).

My workspace at TU Delft

Due to the fact, that the used auction environment is based on the common bidding method for construction projects; the ‘reverse’ auction low-bid method, I wanted to investigate bidding behavior in different auction settings. It could be the second-price sealed-bid auction (Vickrey auction) or the descending price auction (Dutch auction). During the use of the online simulation I realized, that if I would like to focus solely on studying the auction behavior and to address this in educational contexts, the rest of the game would be unnecessary, e.g. the components that are needed to manage the company in a competitive environment as well as to manage different construction projects. Therefore, a reduction is strongly recommended.

Since 2015/16 I was not able to invest further efforts in this direction. Nevertheless, I developed a basic concept of an auction game together with Prof. Dick Teach in 2012 during my stay at the Georgia Tech Center for International Business Education & Research, which has been a really good exercise for further developments in my construction simulation game (Dick mainly inspired me to conduct research on auctions and decision making processes). And now the circle closes. The discussions with colleagues during my CETE-exchange and the pleasing coincidence that Dick also participated in the ISAGA 2017 has encouraged me to work further on this concept.

Now comes the nerdy part of the story 🙂 During two nights I worked further on the existing parts of the online trading game in that far, that it is possible to place bids for several goods. Additionally, traders have a stock and they have stock costs for each good (nothing fancy, but functional). Why so fast? I had to be quick, because I wanted to discuss this first rough version with Dick in any case while he is attending the conference. And I can tell you, the discussion was splendid. We talked about additional implementations and how we could use different auction types. The game play will be very fast and thrilling for the participants. Within one study group we will be able to conduct a variety of games with different auction types. Further, because of the simplicity of the game, it will be possible to use it on different educational levels, professional, academic as well as in vocational education and training. Honestly, the game is not ready yet to be played with students, but without the support of the CETE-network this concept would have been most likely still in my drawer.

Besides other things, I also worked on this project during my stay at TU Delft. So, I hope to find enough time to work on this project and to bring it into classes of several vocational schools in the future and also to work on a joint publication with Dick. Let´s see what happens. By the way, a day has 24 hours plus the night. 🙂


Blog by Dr. Christian Karl

Posted in The Netherlands, TU Delft | Leave a comment

ISAGA 2017 – Design Workshop for inclusive Simulation Games

During my CETE-Exchange I was invited to the ISAGA 2017 conference in Delft. There, I conducted a design workshop for inclusive simulation games which is also a critical topic in technological education. To give you a quick introduction: Inclusion in educational environments is an approach to educate students with special needs. Latest since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls on to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels, inclusion became an emerging field in schools, universities as well as in vocational education and training.

Design Thinking Process
Design thinking process

Inclusion, in contrast to other approaches like integration, rejects the use of special schools or classrooms to separate students with disabilities from students without disabilities. Hence, students with special needs spend most or all their time with non-special needs students.

Within my research I already investigated the status of inclusion especially in the field of construction (ref. Inclusion in Apprenticeship (IncluAp) and held a presentation at the conference Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung 2017). Due to the fact, that students should work and learn together in a common, joint community, it would be meaningful, to combine inclusion with games as experiential learning activities in an innovative instructional practice in inclusive classrooms. This should lead to multiple benefits:

  • Encouraging the insight for the needs of the classmates.
  • Building a benevolent community that supports collaboration within the class.
  • Promoting positive behavior support mechanisms.
  • Improving peer-relationships by structuring learning around cooperative activities.
  • Motivating students with and without special needs.
  • Increasing engagement and practice to review and to demonstrate their learning results.

Depending on the purpose, the action orientation of a game can also address different learning styles of the students within a variety of instructional activities.

I rember that
“I remember that …”-exercise

During the workshop the participants worked interactively on the design of a concept for an inclusion game which could be implemented as a card game, a board game, a classroom game etc. within their own professional setting (the workshop took 180 minutes). The overall concept of the workshop was embedded in a 6-step (rapid) design thinking process:

  1. Empathize (developing an understanding about inclusion and the involved parties),
  2. Define (summarizing own experiences and expectations),
  3. Ideate (generation of a range of creative ideas),
  4. Prototype (building a conceptional model of an inclusion game),
  5. Test (prototypical application),
  6. Implementation (full use in own teaching/ learning context).

During the conference we worked on the first 4 steps.

In phase 1, the beginning of the workshop, I gave a brief introduction about inclusion and gaming. After this in phase 2, the participants had to use the beginning of the sentence “I remember that …” as a basis to talk about their own experiences and expectations as a fundamental basis for the following interaction in phase 3.

3-12-3 method

To support the generation of ideas, I introduced in general some creativity techniques (e.g. brain storming, lateral thinking, six thinking hats, 5 Whys). To achieve a fast creativity process we used the 3-12-3 method to generate a pool of aspects (3 min. individual action), develop basic concepts (12 min. group action) and to present responses to discuss those (3 min. with the whole group).

During phase 4, we worked all together interactively on a joint concept. I introduced different aspects like the purpose of the game (new learning, practice, behavior, review or assessment), addressee of the game (students, teachers), learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic), instructional activity (whole group activities, partner or small group activities or individual activities) etc.

Furthermore, technology is becoming an additional factor which is currently in discussion within inclusive education. Especially, for learners with special needs technology can provide further access to the curriculum through computer, tablet, audio/visual equipment or assistive devices. Therefore, technology can play various roles in inclusive classrooms, too. Nevertheless, the group decided to develop a card based game which will be easy to use and to reproduce. Addresses are 10-12 year old pupils. Interesting was the fact, that the participants decided to use the topic of “foods” as a substitute and first point of contact with cultural differences. The card game should be an opener for further discussion with the aim of not forgetting the variation in understanding immigrants.

The game process was defined that way, that every child should draw a card with a specific food on it and sort it to one of the following three stacks: a) I like it, b) I don´t like it, c) I don´t know. Afterwards they have to explain and to discuss their decision. After some rounds the facilitator should transfer in the debriefing of the game, the food related discussion to the cultural level. At the end of the interaction in phase 4 the concept was presented and discussed. After the workshop I invited the participants to customize the concept to their needs and to test it in their profession as a prototypical application (phase 5).

game concept
Game concept

Based on experiences in my own studies and also on discussions with professionals from the field and other experts (e.g. had the chance to work in a workshop with Frederik Pferdt, Chief Innovation  Evangelist from Google who visited our university) I have seen, that there is (still!) a strong need for increasing creativity especially in engineering education. This is something, that is quite often a more or less “soft” topic and educators are not willing to invest time in this. They are mostly focused on professional/ technical issues. This is in most of the cases, hopefully due to time restrictions (?). To close this gap, I decided to design an interactive and experiential course aimed to increase creativity in technical education focused on construction content. Parts of the catalog of methods that I collected, I am testing in my game design workshops. And it is just amazing how enthusiastic and dynamic the participants – especially those who had obviously reservations at the beginning – work on new concepts and what results we get after workshops that last only 90 or 180 minutes.


Blog by Dr. Christian Karl

Posted in Allgemein | Leave a comment

Visiting TU Delft – The Arrival

Thanks to the CETE network, I was able to realize a short stay visit for two weeks at Delft University of Technology ideas and to get valuable advice. Due to my fields of research I chose the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) as my host. But before going in some details, here are some interesting facts about the University. TU Delft was founded by King William II of the Netherlands in 1842. It started as the Royal Academy for the education of civilian engineers.

TPM entrance
TPM entrance

This is quite similar to the campus of the University of Duisburg-Essen which was build on the former State Engineering School of Construction Essen (Staatliche Ingenieurschule für Bauwesen Essen, more information here). TU Delft´s motto is “Challenge the Future” and this is obvious in many ways on the campus.

Faculty and students (rd. 20.000) are working in a strong relationship with the industry as well as with ministries and authorities. TU Delft has also three Nobel Laureates. From this perspective, my expectations of  this visit and also the demands on myself were very high.

After a drive of round about two and a half hours I arrived at my new work space for the next two weeks, the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM). The research of TPM focuses on large scale socio-technical systems, such as infrastructures for transport, energy and telecommunication by combining insights from the engineering sciences with insights from the humanities and the social sciences.

Especially the topics of modeling, simulation and gaming are very interesting for me and my research in the cross-section of technology and education. For this purpose, TPM has the game lab in which they develop board as well as digital games for research and education.

gamelab @ TU Delft

TPM has a worldwide known and recognized expertise in this field of research. Due to this, TPM hosted the 48th International Simulation and Gaming Association’s conference (ISAGA 2017) from 10th to 14th July 2017 in which I participated with a design workshop for inclusive games .  After my arrival I was introduced to the team and participated directly in the ISAGA conference. Besides getting to know new interesting contacts I also met highly known people. The atmosphere was professional as well as collegial as it would be at a class reunion.

At the end of my first day I checked into the Hampshire Hotel. And here comes an important advice: If you book a hotel and it says they have parking lots available, be sure, that the car can stand there all (!) the time. Due to the close distance I came by car and took my bike with me. Hey, what did you expect? I am traveling to the Netherlands 🙂 My plan was to leave the car at the parking lot of the hotel during my stay and to use my bike to get around. But here comes the BUT! At the hotel, which was a good choice at all, it is not allowed to leave the car parked the entire day. It is fine to park the car at night and up to approximately 8:30, but after that tourist buses are using the parking lot. Because of that, all the other cars have to leave.

Now, what are the alternatives?

1. Come by plane or train.

What? That is not for me.

2. Come by car and leave it in the garage across of the hotel.

This might be an alternative. Why not? I tell you why not … for each full day you have to pay 15 Euro. So, paying more than 200 Euro just for leaving the car there is way too much for me.

3. Come by car and leave it at the campus

Yes! That is a real alternative. Compared to other universities I visited, TU Delft has parking lots for free. At Berkeley for instance every parking lot, in the garage or at the street must be paid for.

So, what to do now? Check in, leave the bike in the trunk of the car, drive in the morning by car to TPM, leave the car there and take the bike out of the trunk. There you go!! It could not have been cheaper.

By the way, ask at the Hotel if they have a “fietsen huis” or “fietsenstalling” (bike shed). In my case, I had to ask for a key and was able to put my bike over night in such a shed. Way better than leaving it outside.


Blog by Dr. Christian Karl

Posted in The Netherlands, TU Delft | Leave a comment

Ph.D. Colloquium University of Cambridge & University of Duisburg-Essen

The Colloquium

We arrived on the 18th of May in Cambridge. “We” in this context means the two Ph.D. students of the University of Duisburg- Essen Victoria Adenstedt and Annika Gooss and myself, Helena Spyrou, the student assistant of Professor Mammes study group, who was invited to protocol the trip.

Ph.D Colloquium 1        H. Spyrou

The purpose of our short business trip was the CETE Ph.D. Colloquium at the University of Cambridge, to be more specific in the Faculty of Education, which is located next to Homerton College. It took place on the 19th of May. It is an important part of CETE to support the research of the young academics, since they are the future of Technology Education.
In the morning, we walked along the Hillsroad untill we stood in front of a modern building with a curved architecture but still having a traditional touch, because its face is covered in wood.

20160308_090852 (1)

Bill Nicholl welcomed us and showed us the conference room in which we met Professor Mark Winterbottom and his Ph.D. student Beth McGregor. The atmosphere was friendly and cooperative and as the colloquium begun Professor Ingelore Mammes, who could not attend, was called via skype to take part in the meeting.
The three Ph.Ds. begun to hold their lectures, Annika Gooss was the first. Her lecture was titled “Intergruppenverhalten von Jungen und Mädchen beim technischen Problemlösen”, Beth McGregor followed with hers “Thinkering- Science Lessons” and Victoria Adensted lectured about “The technological self-concept of primary-pupils”. Mr Nicholl, Prof. Mammes and Prof. Winterbottom made notes during the lectures to give constructive critique in the following discussion. I protocolled the whole meeting.
After the meeting was over we went to have a late lunch with Ms McGregor. In the relaxed ambience of the Homerton cafeteria we spoke about the different systems of receiving a doctor´s degree, holding lectures and doing research. It was refreshing to get a look on the educational system in different universities from another perspective.

Homerton College

Experiencing Cambridge

It was Ms Gooss´s first time in Cambridge as well as mine, so we were lucky to have Ms Adenstedt with us who had done a Ph.D. exchange to Cambridge before. She showed us around the colleges and the city, which basically only consists of colleges. It was inspiring to see historic places like the Eagles Pub in which Watson and Crick discussed about the structure of the DNA, to have a look on Darwin’s notebook in the natural history museum, to stand in front of Newton´s apple tree or walk by the building in which Stephen Hawking’s office rooms are placed. With a look on the Royal Family it was interesting to see the Trinity Hall College from which Prince Charles earned his bachelor degree. On the 20th we booked a guided tour through the city which was beautiful. We were lucky, on this Sunday were the disputations of the doctoral theses and we got to see all the Ph.Ds. in their traditional robes with their proud parents by their sides. We visited the chapel of King´s College, but missed the world famous choir before we head off to the airport.

It was very helpful for the Ph.D. students to meet with other CETE members for suggestions to their researches and for me it was a pure motivation to see the beauty of an old university city and also to do a bit of networking.

By Helena Spyrou

Posted in Ph.D. Colloquium Cambridge | Leave a comment

Living and working in Cambridge

It is unbelievable but my exchange to Cambridge is almost finished and I will already leave in a couple of days. Time flew fast and I gathered a lot of experiences and got insights into the University of Cambridge, the people living here and also into the surroundings!

I spend my working hours at the Faculty of Education in Hillsroad, North-West from the city centre. It is a nice building with lots of windows and open spaces. Bridges are linking the right and left side office floors. Thus, you are not only getting the feeling of freedom physically, but it literally helps you to get an open mind. The office where I spent most of my time is on the third floor on top of the building – a worthy place for technology education.

Very often I have also been sitting in the beautiful library of the Faculty of Education. It is no dark and dusty place stuffed with old books like one could imagine thinking of such an old and famous university. No, it is bright and spacious and invites you to let your thoughts wander as well as to focus on intensive literature research. Both very important aspects to foster the quality of your research!

But the best thing about this library is the library expert team. They always help you with nearly every question you have (questions concerning the IT support could of course be better answered from the equally friendly IT team next door).

Living in Cambridge means not only living with all the tourists visiting Cambridge every day being impressed by the city and its sights as I have been during my exchange; it also means living with lots of students populating the streets and pathways of the city riding their bikes and consulting Google maps to find the right way to their seminars.

During my weekends I travelled around the near surroundings to get to know the country, its residents and their customs. London was an attractive destination with all the sights and monuments! But also Audley End is one of the nicest towns in England and definitely worth visiting. Between March and October you can visit its interesting manor house and get impressions about life in past centuries. Absolutely worth doing!

So I will enjoy my last days staying in Cambridge before going back home to Germany to the routines of daily university life.

Posted in Cambridge 2016 | Leave a comment