Interview: Dr Jurgen Schulte
UTS Faculty of Science
Beijing Institute of Technology Visiting Fellow Program
What was the focus of your research collaboration with Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT)?
The main focus of my research collaboration with BIT was on how authentic learning experiences are developed and implemented in an environment governed by different education policies. We wanted to see how authentic learning can be verified and measured in large classes, and learning analytics can help with this.
What was the benefit of academic exchange?
One of my research interests is in learning analytics and authentic learning experiences, in particular for large classes. BIT offers some courses and subjects that are very similar in structure and content to what we offer here at UTS. The attractive difference from a research point of view is the classes at BIT are much larger, and academics at BIT have started to develop a research interest in these areas.
I was particularly interested in one class which pretty much covers the same content as one of my subjects here at UTS, only it has some 3,000 students enrolled. This is of course a field day for anyone interested in learning analytics.
Apart from this specific interest, the main underlying theme of my visit to BIT was to establish new, strong research collaborations in areas of my interest and plant seeds for future joint grant applications and exchange of PhD students.
What were the outcomes of your trip?
My research has been enriched by the many people I worked with during this academic exchange. It gave me the permission to venture out into cutting edge research areas for which I would normally find limited support and time otherwise. It was pleasing to see that within my short period of time at BIT, we were able to develop three research papers of which two have been submitted already, and we managed to submit two BIT supported grant applications.
Another pleasing outcome of my invitation to BIT was the revival of some research I was involved in some years ago and we are now looking at co-supervising a PhD student under the KTP Dual Doctorate program with BIT to move this to the next stage.
What’s next in your collaboration?
Next on our agenda is the completion of a bilingual textbook which will be trialled at BIT during the second half of this year. And of course, if we are lucky, we’ll be commencing with our grant application projects around mid-year. All in all, what we have started with this exchange is truly touched by a Chinese long-term vision.
The one recurring impression that stays with me every time I visit Beijing is that Beijing city is evolving with a very clear long term vision, so is the work at BIT. This experience helps to develop a view beyond the normal two to three year cycle in our own immediate environment and, of course, our own work.