The first cohort of 18 Durban University of Technology (DUT) academics took place from 9 to 13 March 2020 in an intensive training style on Project Based Learning.
The cohort forms part of the strategic initiatives DUT has embarked on ensuring its teaching staff apply creative and innovative methods that would have a direct impact on teaching, learning and research. The training was conducted by Professor Christoph Maurer from the Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany, who is currently based at DUT as the Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an interim initiative driven through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement.
Prof Maurer has developed a “Train the Trainer for Project Based Learning” format over the past years which strongly emphasizes the activation and personal involvement of the trainees in small interdisciplinary teams of three.
“The idea behind the training is to enable the participants to teach their courses in the Project Based Learned format by treating them during the training partially as students and partially on eye-level as colleagues,” said Prof Maurer. After a general introduction and team building sessions the six teams defined their individual project for the week. During the five days of the training the teams went through a systematic standard process consisting of four steps: Discover – Define – Develop – Deliver. They were introduced to special tools and methods for each step. The teams were able to apply the methods and tools directly on their projects and were finally able to find the ideal solution for their problems.
“The training took place off campus for the duration of the programme. The teams were fully active from mornings to evenings. There were many team activities that included practicing different creativity methods, homework tasks that needed to be presented the next day etc. The five days were filled with many personal experiences, with new impressions on how teaching can happen in a completely different setting, with humour and creativity while teaming with colleagues from different faculties. The participants now are prepared to apply PBL in their courses. As part of the feedback, a number of them expressed excitement over the training and the inter-disciplinary networking,” added Prof Maurer.
When asked to comment, the DVC for Research, Innovation and Engagement, Prof Sibusiso Moyo, said: “We are glad that we have managed to kickstart this programme with 18 participants. We realise we can do more to reach at least 50% of our academics from 2020 to 2021. However, we will need to focus on getting at least two internal staff trained on the methodology to co-train, an aspect which Prof Maurer is working on,” she said.
Pictured: DUT academics at the Project Based Learning event.
Professor Christoph Maurer