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Dahlem Center for Academic Teaching – DCAT

Freie Universität’s new center kicks off with a winter school – and a very special opening ceremony

№ 022/2021 from Feb 08, 2021

Freie Universität Berlin has a new professional training center – the Dahlem Center for Academic Teaching, DCAT. The center has been set up with two main tasks: to promote innovative developments in academic teaching and to be a central point of contact offering training, advice, and support for teaching staff at the university. The official opening ceremony will take place on March 10, 2021, following a very special event about communication in teaching that asks how a “culture of failure” – where experimentation and learning from mistakes is not only tolerated, but encouraged – can actually lead to greater success?

The idea of learning from mistakes at work and being more open about failure first emerged in start-up companies. In a culture of failure, people are able to talk about where they messed up in a respectful environment, and it’s okay to laugh about things that haven’t gone to plan. The key is to focus on what lessons can be learned from the mistakes. DCAT believes that this is a concept that can be hugely beneficial for the university environment. Just like people who are busy running their own companies, teachers often don’t have enough opportunities to talk to each other openly about the challenges they face and the underlying causes of common difficulties. But a failure-friendly culture and an atmosphere of trust can promote success and innovation in academic teaching.

Following the opening event, DCAT will be focusing on its winter school, which will offer workshops to help instructors find new ideas and motivation in a world where the pandemic, and the resulting drive towards greater digitalization, continue to dominate the teaching environment. German and international experts will present examples of best practice, looking at what works in the pandemic and what kind of teaching is likely to draw the best responses from students.

Join us! Be part of the opening ceremony

Would you like to tell us your story of when digital teaching didn’t go quite as planned? We’re looking for more people who are willing to share their stories as part of the opening event. If you’d like to help, please contact Katja Reinecke: katja.reinecke@fu-berlin.de.

The event is free and open to the public. We ask that you please register in advance. Please note that this event will be held in German, but other events and workshops organized by DCAT are in English.

Following the event, we invite all participants to attend the official opening celebration.

To register, please go to https://www.fu-berlin.de/sites/lehrqualifizierung/winter-school/fu-night/index.html.


Further Information

Registration for Winter School 2021 Workshops

The workshops are open to university instructors who would like to reflect on their experiences during the last two semesters of digital teaching and exchange ideas about how things might change in the future.

Some of the Planned Workshops

Practice Makes Perfect: Student-Generated Questions for Learning

Making Sustainability and Responsibility an Everyday Part of Teaching

Online Learning Assessments: Authenticity, Integrity, and Practicality

Winter School Workshops


Courses at the Dahlem Center for Academic Teaching



Dr. Katja Reinecke, Tel.: +49 (0) 30 838 63635, Email: katja.reinecke@fu-berlin.de