News from Sep 11, 2016
For the first time, Freie Universität Berlin organized a transnational e-lecture course with a university in Mexico. The cooperating partners were the Institute of Computer Science (Freie Universität) and the University of Guadalajara. The course, entitled "Machine Learning," held by Prof. Dr. Raúl Rojas, a professor of artificial intelligence at Freie Universität and the initiator of the project, was transmitted by video conference, including images, sound, and the writing on the chalkboard. For students who complete the course, the two universities award internationally recognized credits that are valid in both countries. "The goal is to inspire students in Mexico to study in Germany," says Rojas, who aims to organize more bilateral e-seminars and e-lectures with more than ten Mexican universities beginning in the fall of 2016. The lecture course was held as part of the Germany-Mexico Year.
"This lecture course was a positive example of what is possible with e-learning today," says Raúl Rojas. Unlike courses offered on North American platforms such as Coursera or edX, this course was transmitted live. The quality of the signal transmission was excellent at all lectures and hence the quality of data the students received with the information on the chalkboards.
Apart from the technical challenges, there were also logistical problems to solve: The time difference of seven hours meant that students in Mexico had to be at the university very early. According to Rojas, the main challenge was "not being able to look students in the eyes. In Berlin I can tell by looking at the faces of the students, whether they understood or not, so I can adjust the tempo. By asking specific questions, I can speed up or slow down the pace of the lecture." In a video conference this type of interaction is much more difficult.
At the end of July, the Mexican students were issued European Transfer Credits from Freie Universität Berlin.