New ideas for teaching

26 Feb 2024

After the pandemic, LMU provided start-up funding for teaching concepts. And the university will continue to support the integration of innovative ideas into teaching practice with funding of 500,000 euros per year. We showcase three examples.

Art project goes to big school

The ‘Art Time Goes to School’ project [Kunstpause goes School – Zeit für die Kunst] was such a success that it has spawned a successor. ‘Art Time Goes to Big School’ [Kunstpause goes School – Next Level] is the next stage of a project by the Art Education research and teaching unit at LMU. Running from 2016 to 2019, the first stage took lessons from the book ‘Art Time’ [Kunstpause – Zeit für die Kunst], which contains art material for elementary schoolchildren, and brought it into classrooms.

The next level follows the same principle except that the lessons are designed for high-school children and come from the book ‘Art Time 2’ [Kunstpause 2]. As with the first book, the authors all come from LMU’s Art Education unit. The book features projects involving augmented reality, spray painting, stencil art, graffiti, and selfie videos. “So that ‘Art Time 2’ doesn’t remain just theory, project manager Astrid von Greytz is helping to work up the exercises for art lessons in schools,” explains Professor Anja Mohr, Director of the Institute of Art Education at LMU.

The teaching concept incorporates the two phases of teacher training in art education. Students at the first level develop lesson concepts in conjunction with trainee teachers at the second level. In a project seminar, participants select topics from the book and try them out. Then they develop didactic methods and lesson concepts for their topics in a Zoom meeting and present them in front of the whole group. As the next step, the concepts are jointly implemented in the classes of the trainee teachers. The participants then reflect on and revise the lesson units and publish them as electronic portfolios on the Institute of Art Education website.

Students of art education

In the “Kunstpause goes School – Next Level” project, art education students develop concepts for art lessons together with trainee teachers.


“Having students and trainee teachers work together on the project is a win-win situation. The teachers benefit from our input. And in return, they allow us to present the lesson in their classes,” explains Astrid von Greytz, research fellow at the Institute of Art Education. Moreover, the students are glad to finally experience the world of teaching practice. “The ‘Art Time Goes to School’ project allows us not only to acquire practical experience, but to have fruitful conversations with trainee teachers,” observes art education student Dilara Gül.

The next and final round of the project, at least for the time being, is planned for the 2024/25 winter semester. Already, the project team is working concurrently on the book ‘Art Time 3’ [Kunstpause 3]. The team has plenty of material at hand for the new volume, and if it can obtain funding, they hope to take this initiative into schools again. “Without the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching, we wouldn’t have been able to realize this project,” summarizes Mohr. “Having the funds to fulfill this undertaking is a dream.”

Artificial intelligence in medical teaching

Researchers at LMU’s Institute for Medical Education (DAM) are developing solutions to train student doctors in the use of AI-based teaching and learning opportunities. Their work on systems that give students automatic feedback on seminar papers is already quite far advanced. “The big advantage is that we can give students adequate automated feedback on their written papers with minimum investment of staff time,” says Professor Matthias Stadler, who develops AI solutions for teaching at DAM.

What is still lacking, however, is a way of systematically introducing students to AI-based solutions. To address this gap, the team has launched a project, which is being supported by the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching.

“We know that many students already use large language models in study prep – to generate test questions, for example, or to help them draft texts,” says Stadler. But not everybody has the same access to such possibilities, he explains.

“Our goal is for all medical students to systematically learn what language programs are out there, what the differences are between them, how they were trained and with what data, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.” To this end, the team plans to invite subject-matter experts from the domains of medicine and technology, who will explore the systems together with the students. Moreover, students will be taught to give effective prompts and, even more importantly, how to work collaboratively with the systems – for example, to improve texts that the students have written.

The team plans to further expand the scope of topics and applications in the near future. They are currently testing MediTutor, for instance, an AI tool that allows students to select a specific medical area and receive a suitable exercise in the form of a patient case to diagnose. The algorithm then evaluates the answer and offers various possible diagnoses. “This is much better than the multiple-choice tests traditionally used in medical education, because the AI provides quality feedback for any number of problems. Staff just wouldn’t be able to manage that kind of volume,” emphasizes Matthias Stadler.

The team will also tackle the subject of AI and ethics in medicine and explore ways of expanding the possibilities of AI in medical education. Matthias Stadler: “We need to give medical students plenty of experience with AI, as it will massively impact the everyday working lives of doctors in the future.”

Virtual practice pharmacy for student pharmacists

In a seminar room at LMU’s Department of Pharmacy, there is a mock pharmacy. With stacks of medicine packages and a real-life inventory control system, it is done up to look like a real pharmacy – but with dummy drugs and without actual customers. The goal of the mock-up is to present a realistic simulation of the most common occupational situations to student pharmacists.

Now the practice pharmacy, which regularly hosts peer-to-peer practice sessions, is being supplemented by a virtual counterpart. The virtual model allows students to practice alone in the first instance and gain self-confidence in giving medication advice, as Professor Oliver Scherf-Clavel from the Department of Pharmacy explains. “Many students initially feel intimidated when it comes to acting out a dialog in the practice pharmacy with their fellow students. They worry about making a fool of themselves in front of their peers.”

The virtual practice pharmacy MyDispense is just the ticket for such students, as it simulates consultations with patients. Pharmacy student Katharina Miller finds MyDispense a relaxed yet effective way of practicing consultation discussions, “because there isn’t the same pressure to perform and time pressure as there is with a real person, and the pre-selection of possible questions provides a reliable framework.”

MyDispense: Virtual practice pharmacy.

© Monash University

The project team, which is led by Dr. Karin Bartel, Dr. Yvonne Pudritz, and Professor Oliver Scherf-Clavel, is currently testing online exercises for 6th semester students. “With MyDispense, we can practice therapy situations without the risk of harm to patients,” explains Scherf-Clavel. Moreover, the virtual pharmacy facilitates situations of a certain complexity.

Developed at Monash University in Melbourne and adapted for the German pharmacy market by the University of Greifswald, the online simulation program is web-based. Accordingly, pharmacy students can practice whenever it suits them – during their commute to campus, say. At the end of a MyDispense unit, students receive a feedback sheet with information about how they solved the case and what would have been the ideal solution from the lecturers’ point of view. In this way, students can see for themselves what they need to revise.

The LMU pharmacists are using the money from the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching to create new cases for other semesters. Ultimately, the plan is to have suitable cases for the entire advanced pharmacy program, so that MyDispense can be incorporated into the Clinical Pharmacy curriculum.

Interview with Professor Oliver Jahraus: Mining and highlighting the potential of teaching

Porträt von Professor Doktor Oliver Jahraus

Professor Oliver Jahraus

Vice President for Teaching and Studies | © LMU

LMU is committed to fostering advances in teaching practice. Professor Oliver Jahraus, Vice President for Teaching and Studies, explains how teaching at LMU is benefiting from the continuation of the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching.

How did the idea for the fund come about?

Professor Oliver Jahraus: Born out of exceptional circumstances, the original idea was to get individual initiatives up and running very rapidly. These initiatives were aimed first and foremost at improving virtual teaching in the faculties. During the pandemic, this was vital in order to give students the very best support we could muster. We made one million euros in funding available for this purpose. Over time, we noticed that all kinds of wonderful initiatives were sprouting up in the faculties.

What will be the focus of the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching going forward in light of changing background circumstances?

Oliver Jahraus: We felt it was important not to hark back to pandemic times, but to look to the future and continue to systematically promote teaching at LMU. We want to bring out the potential of LMU in teaching and further increase its visibility. It’s important that LMU is known not only as a leading research university, but also one that offers excellent and innovative teaching.We’re delighted that we can furnish the funds from LMU’s own budget. This is possible thanks to the new higher education contract concluded between the ministry and LMU.

Will teaching and research become more intertwined as a result?

Oliver Jahraus: This is already happening anyway. Teaching is research-based, not to mention research-oriented. We want to let students get involved in research as early as possible. The increasing linkages between individual subjects is also playing an important role. When young people come to LMU, they don’t just study one ‘subject,’ which they could do at any other university. They additionally benefit from scientific cooperation across disciplines, which is a strong feature of academic life at LMU. In this way, we increase the appeal of our university and of Munich as a center of learning. Above all, we want to highlight the variety and richness of teaching at LMU.

In addition to the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching, we continue to recognize projects that have already established themselves at the faculties through the LMU Teaching Innovation Prize, whether this be virtual solutions for working up lecture notes, AI applications in teaching, or video content for language learning. In issuing another call for applications for the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching, we’re looking ahead to the Teaching Innovation Prizes of the future, you might say.

When researchers and lecturers have an idea for a new teaching concept, what criteria must they fulfill to receive funding?

Oliver Jahraus: There are three criteria, and these serve as selection criteria for the University Teaching Committee, which assesses the projects as a jury. The most important of these criteria is the capacity of the projects to serve as models. They should have the potential to be transferable to other courses and programs and thus become an integral part of teaching – even without funding extensions. What we don’t want are projects that catch flame and then burn out just as quickly. Secondly, projects should reach a significant number of students – that is to say, the broadest possible range of students should benefit from the teaching innovation – naturally, in relation to the size of the respective subject.And thirdly, there is the concurrent evaluation of the projects by the students themselves.

How has the initiative gone down with teachers in particular?

Oliver Jahraus: It’s been very well received. A most welcome side effect has been the community building. This was something we actively promoted from the outset by inviting all applicants to meetings that facilitated intensive dialog and for which we received great feedback. This networking has positive knock-on effects inside the university. Naturally, we can fund only so many projects, but these set an example in departments and faculties which can motivate others to launch their own initiatives. The message we’ve received has been loud and clear: Continue the program! So that’s exactly what we’re doing. And now we’re encouraging our colleagues to contribute their ideas. The more, the better!

Where can academic staff access further information and seek advice?

Oliver Jahraus: The program is supervised by Unit VIII.1. The highly experienced staff there knows all about these projects and how to implement them. It’s important for potential applicants to receive personalized support when it comes to issues around funding etc. They will always find an open door at the Unit VIII.1 office.

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