Between February 15-17, 2018, eleven Kiron students from our Business & Economics, Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering study tracks, as well as two very dedicated tutors from our INTEGRAL+ partner RWTH Aachen, came to Berlin from all over Germany for a study weekend organized through Kiron’s Direct Academics (DA) team. The purpose of the weekend was to prepare students for an offline exam in “Introduction to Business Administration” (Einführung in die Betriebswirtschaftslehre) that, if successfully passed, will provide students with ECTS recognizable at German universities.
The invited students were all German learners currently studying the RWTH Aachen “Einführung in die Betriebswirtschaftslehre (EBWL)” Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on edX that culminates in an offline exam on March 9 of this year. The course is made up of six units, covering basic concepts and terms in business and economics.
During each session of the weekend, instructors from RWTH Aachen tutored in an interactive, student-centered, and outcome-based way, primarily covering unit content through activities as well as providing test-taking strategies. The ability to get direct feedback from instructors and peers is a key component of Direct Academics tutorials, whether online or offline, as this is often missing from large MOOCs. “The teaching method was perfect,” one of our students responded in the follow-up questionnaire. A big focus on the weekend was also writing in German, the main language of the exam, which for many of our students is their second or third foreign language. We also organized focus groups for students to creatively provide feedback on their experience taking the MOOC, which is beneficial both for the learners to reflect on their learning process as well as for us and our partners to learn new strategies for better supporting them in their studies.
Study weekends – as well as student weekends more broadly – have become an increasingly important part of Kiron student life in Germany as we hone in on students’ preparation for transfer to offline universities with recognizable academic qualifications. Though our curriculum remains primarily online, research overwhelmingly indicates that blended learning incorporating offline elements is the most successful in retaining students, increasing study motivation, and building learning communities.
As always, study weekends also provide an ideal opportunity for students to socialize and get to know one another as well as members of the Kiron family, with whom they are usually only in virtual contact. Social events for this weekend included a kick-off bowling event, where some of the students experienced bowling for the first time, one of whom even won the game!
Students also had a session on university transfer with Ronny Roewert of Kiron’s transfer team, who supports our students in their goals to reach offline university, meet admissions criteria, and win scholarships. Moataz Ghannam, one of Kiron’s first transfer students who successfully passed the EBWL exam last year, was also on hand to give students personal advice from his perspective as a successful Kiron alumnus.
The weekend was made possible through our INTEGRAL+ project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with support from our partners at RWTH Aachen University, as well as the BLESS project with H&M Foundation.