Teamcher Lennart Osterhus: ‘I never expected this of challenge-based learning’

At the invitation of colleague Andrea Brose, Lennart Osterhus embarked on the challenge-based learning adventure. Looking back, he is only too glad that he was the Teamcher of an international group of motivated students.

As a Research Associate at Hamburg University of Technology, Lennart works mainly with bachelor students. ‘I work with prospective students who do not yet know exactly what they want to study. They are introduced to various projects during two semesters. And I am one of the supervisors. In this new CBL project, I was introduced to master’s students for the first time. That seemed interesting.’

Ten students signed up for the challenge. ‘I organised a teambuilding activity as a kick-off. I can recommend that to everyone. We had a six-hour session. Including a lunch break and a game. We introduced ourselves and asked for expectations and what they wanted to learn. But also a bit of fun in it. Take something from your desk and what does that tell you about yourself? Accessible and fun. It is also important to get to know each other a little.’

Then it was a matter of arriving at the ultimate question. The challenge was provided by the ITS World Congress, the world’s largest and most prominent event focused on smart mobility and the digitalisation of transportation. The students were asked to make public space more usable again.

Population and production growth have resulted in a demand for higher capacities of urban transportation systems. Today, traffic is the number one occupier of public space in Hamburg. That has led to unsatisfactory conditions in regards to traffic flow and traffic jams. Making more public space usable again for the residents therefore calls for innovation and creative approaches. Develop a concept for making more public space usable by interlinking sustainable transportation systems. Bear in mind the urban residents’ wants for cultural and social offers in public spaces.

Osterhus: ‘We had five weeks to work on the challenge. To structure the work somewhat, we held milestone meetings, or interim sessions, to catch up and discuss the results. For mutual communication, the students chose a mobile communication platform.’

The teamcher says they agreed on agendas, moderating the meetings and setting goals. ‘The students were great. Very active and motivated. Eventually, they split into two groups and we made them each contribute to the challenge. The first group dealt with the question of how to realise a car-free zone and the other students dealt with the question of how to reuse that space.’

And the result? ‘One group wanted to involve the locals more and came up with a QR code to scan and pitch ideas. The others made a website with possibilities for using the space. At the end both teams found together again and worked as one big team on both questions. I had never expected this and I am very happy with the result.’

Text: ECIU University (https://www.eciu.org/news/teamcher-lennart-osterhus-i-never-expected-this-of-challenge-based-learning)