Two researchers of the Karlsruhe University of Education (KUE) in the field of “STEM” (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) came to Savannakhet University (SKU) for a teaching and training mobility in March 2020 to collaborate with related departments. The framework for this collaboration is the “Erasmus+ Programme” between KUE and SKU.
Jun.Prof. Dr. Bernhard Standl is Professor of Informatics Education and Dr. Martin Remmele research associate in Biology Education. For Bernhard Standl this was the first visit at Savannakhet University while Martin Remmele came here for the third time. (Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin, who was supposed to join up one week later, had to fly home from Vientiane shortly after her arrival due to a bereavement in the family.)
Our work was characterised by a heterogeneous programme. While Martin Remmele’s main focus was on intensifying existing contacts with the Faculties of Natural Sciences and Food Science, Bernhard Standl got to know his colleagues in the IT Department.
Biology Education and Food Science
Martin Remmele’s working partner at the Faculty of Natural Sciences was again Mr Napha Khothphouthone.
This provided the opportunity to continue the research project started in the past in the field of sustainable development. Up until then, the focus had been on the knowledge and attitudes of students – the decision-makers of tomorrow – about and towards amphibians, which, as the exterminators of rice-eating insects, can be an essential factor in the ecological cultivation of the rice fields along the Mekong. The existing sample of the survey was increased by 75 students to now more than 300. The design of the previous study was adapted and is now to be applied to rice farmers along the Mekong River the following year.
Furthermore, Mr Phonesavard Sibounnavong from the Faculty of Food Science and Martin Remmele prepared an abstract on last year’s research project on the ecology of insects in rice fields. The aim is to integrate knowledge from both research projects into teaching at SKU and thus contribute to sustainable agriculture along the Mekong. In addition, a joint excursion enabled us to get a closer look at Lao biodiversity hot spots in the Mekong region.
Bernhard Standl and Ms Somsanouk Xayyavong from the IT Department at SKU focused on the revision and further development of a course on Linux system administration. The course content, didactics, and course material were discussed in numerous working sessions. The developed adaptations were then jointly applied in teaching in practice. In addition, the course contents were also displayed on a digital learning platform, which was installed and set up jointly on site during the stay. The basis is a Linux web server based on CentOS and Moodle was chosen as the learning platform.
As a final step, a team training for lecturers was organised and the new online learning platform was introduced. In addition to the further specification of joint research in the field of university didactics, the further cooperation also plans to further establish a modern IT infrastructure at the SKU.
Again, our Lao partners were excellent hosts. Ms Somsanouk took Bernhard to some very nice places in Savannakhet, especially to a typical market offering a lot of original Lao products.
Mr Napha Khothphouthone and Mr Thaithanawanh Keokaisone, a colleague from the Linguistics Department, took Martin Remmele on an exciting field trip to the monkey forest and to a Buddhist sanctuary at the countryside. They were also lucky to observe some critically endangered soft shell turtles in a pond by a Buddhist shrine.
At the house of Ms Phetsavanh, our SKU project coordinator, colleagues from Savannakhet University, Bernhard Standl, and Martin Remmele spent a beautiful evening together enjoying a delicious Lao dinner with many dishes.
The whole visit was an excellent milestone for future collaboration.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemy destroyed our Lao partners’ plans for their return visit at KUE this spring. However, the Erasmus board prolonged our project by a year so we can hopefully welcome our partners in Karlsruhe in the summer term of 2021.
Also, our new application for a second Erasmus+ application was granted this summer, so we have a budget for 3 more years. The new project will focus on Academic English and Education for Sustainable Development. Hopefully we can catch up on the last mobilities and start with our new ones next year!
Text by M. Remmele & B. Standl
Photos by M. Remmele, B. Standl, S. Xayyavong & I. Martin