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Six square meters and a green screen

Instructors can augment their courses with e-learning elements using two new recording studios

Freiburg, Feb 05, 2020

In November 2019, the University of Freiburg set up two new recording studios. Within a space of six square meters each, teachers can create e-learning materials for their lectures and seminars. Students can also use the technology, for example, to record videos or set clips to music. For the time being, the mini-studios are only located in two faculties.

Better quality thanks to the new equipment: Anne Liefländer likes to prepare her lessons in the new video lab. Photo: Thomas Kunz

“The equipment is not the most professional, but you can achieve a lot with just a green screen, a camera, lighting and a microphone,” says Alex Giurca. The staff member at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for the mini-studio. For the past three months his colleagues have been able to spice up their teaching materials there with digital elements. Giurca shows them how the technology works and also designs e-learning material himself in the small studio. At the heart of the studio is a tablet, which can be used to film the screen and the teacher and to edit the video. The screen is also suitable for drawing. “We can now use our own graphics and no longer have to spend hours searching for royalty-free files, thereby saving us a lot of time,” says Giurca.

Small studio, great advantage

The second mini-studio is located at the Faculty of Biology. Dr. Anne Liefländer is the contact person there. Initially, the recording studios will only be tested at the two faculties, explains Marko Glaubitz from the University IT Services e-learning department. The team promotes the expansion of digital teaching at the University. But it is not enough to simply provide the equipment, emphasizes Glaubitz. “We also need on-site personnel who can handle the technology and instruct others.” Giurca and Liefländer are two teachers with a lot of prior experience.

Mike on: The studio is well-outfitted with audio equipment. Photo: Thomas Kunz

The great advantage of the small studios is the short distances, emphasizes Glaubitz. Up to now, teachers and students had to visit the media center of the university library to set PowerPoint presentations to music. Now the technology is available in-house: “The aim is not to produce perfect videos, which are not necessary for everyday lectures,” says Glaubitz. “The video studios were also created with the purpose of offering students the opportunity to process knowledge digitally and thus gain a key qualification for their later professional life,” Liefländer adds. She uses e-learning regularly herself. In 2019 the biologist was awarded the E-Learning Sponsorship Award by the University of Freiburg for her teaching concept, which she uses to introduce prospective teachers to human biology topics.

International circuit

In addition, e-learning offers even more opportunities for modern teaching. The Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources teaches topics that are of global interest such as continuing education in forest policy. In order to meet the great international demand, the idea arose to prepare the teaching units digitally. Doctoral students or professionals from African or South American countries can now also benefit from Freiburg’s expertise without having to get on a plane. The mobile green screen and the camera also offer the possibility to record teachers from other countries and integrate their expertise into Freiburg’s teaching.

Recording before a green screen: Students can follow a PowerPoint presentation while being able to see the instructor simultaneously. Source: Alex Giurca

Two studios have already been set up, but what is the plan for the remaining nine faculties? “If we see that teachers and students are accepting the offer well, we will gradually install further mini-studios,” says Glaubitz. The equipment costs about 7,000 euros per faculty, a rather manageable sum. Alex Giurca and Anne Liefländer promise the technology is also easy to handle. After two or three attempts, the green screen, microphone and tablet will be ready to shoot - and if not, they will be there to help.

Franziska Heinzler