Education 4.0 - Learning with Ipodia

Students during an Ipodia Class Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

This semester the CoE together with the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) offered an innovative course under the lead of its head of the chair, Professor GŁnther Schuh and Professor Stephen Lu of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Stephen Lu, the initiator of this Ipodia course, is staying in Aachen as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Industrie 4.0 in the context of the Cluster of Excellence “Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries” to investigate the approach of Industrie 4.0. Professor Stephen Lu believes that every industrial revolution requires an educational revolution: To support the cyber-physical integration of Industrie 4.0, Lu has developed a new education 4.0 program where campus-classrooms in the physical world are interconnected by the Internet to support peer-interactions in the virtual world by students around the world. He developed the Ipodia pedagogy to enable peer interactions across physical, institutional and cultural boundaries, and established the Ipodia Alliance in 2009. The iPodia pedagogy focuses on “learning from differences” so that remote students with diverse backgrounds can engage in direct interactions to co-construct contextual understanding of study subjects while developing mutual understanding of each other to become global innovators and leaders. Due to Stephen Lu’s connection with Professor Schuh, RWTH Aachen was one of the six founding members of the iPodia Alliance, which now consists of 12 global universities in four continents, enabling over 450,000 students worldwide to learn together as local classmates around the clock and throughout the season. RWTH Aachen has continuously participated in iPodia classes over the past several years.

Professor Stephen Lu Stephen Lu

This semester, Professor Lu assisted the Aachen team, which hosted a three-way iPodia course on “Principles and Practices of Global Innovation” with a focus on electromobility. Aachen engineers studied together with students from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa (Israel) and the University of Patras (Greece) weekly. The course comprehended a practically oriented case study with a combination of lectures and self-organized intercultural group assignments. Students from the master programs of Production Engineering and Industrial Engineering participated in the course and learned about market analysis on product requirements in different countries, innovation management and new product development processes for technological products, but also made profound experiences in how to work in multicultural teams. The research assistants Sven Cremer and Thomas Hempel managed the course together. They are convinced that all students learned a great deal, not only about international project management, but also about how the notion of innovation differs in various countries. According to Sven Cremer, “in Aachen, innovation is often related to product lifecycles. Innovation, however, may be differently understood in other countries since market and customer requirements vary. The students had to keep this in mind, while coming up with ideas for possible varieties of products for the global market.” In this Ipodia course, the learning process happened on different communication channels: The seminars in Aachen, Patras and Haifa were interconnected via screens so that German, Greek or Israelian lecturers taught course contents. Also, the students had to work in international teams and communicate across borders by using digital communication possibilities like Skype, for instance.

Students in Jerusalem Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

The highlight of the course was a group travel to Israel. The course participants were able to finally meet each other in the ‘real world’ after learning together for quite some time and were able to exchange views in personal conversations. In addition, the students got a glimpse of the high-tech nation Israel during an excursion to Haifa, as well as getting to know the Israelian culture and visiting the Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem. The travel to Israel, which was sponsored by the Hans Hermann Voss-Stiftung, contributed to a more profound understanding between the German, Greek and Israeli students. Sven Cremer, who has participated in an Ipodia course himself during his studies, holds Ipodia in high esteem: “It allows universities of similar values and visions to come together to teach students across physical borders as well as bringing young people together to broaden their horizons and overcome stereotypes – these are learning outcomes that exceed imparting textbook knowledge.”