Tenth AIM student poster research conference on “Data – The new oil?”

On Wednesday, 18 December 2019, the „Tenth AIM student poster research conference“ took place at HAW Hamburg. 48 junior researchers enrolled in the degree programme Foreign Trade/International Management (B. Sc.) presented their research work.

The posters were developed in the context of the course “Academic research and writing“. The coursework was organised by way of team teaching undertaken by Prof. Dr. Michael Gille and me. 

The general topic of the semester was “Data – The new oil?”. 

As at any AIM student poster research conference, individual topics addressed a diverse set of aspects. All visitors had the opportunity to study the exhibited posters in a pleasant pre-Christmas atmosphere with jazzy sounds. Given the outstanding quality of the presented work, the instructors awarded four junior researchers with the instructors’ best poster award. Additionally, the audience voted for the audience’s best poster award, which was awarded to another three junior researchers.

Prof. Dr. Henning Vöpel, Director and CEO of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), delivered a keynote speech entitled “Are data the new oil? Digitalization and the new order of the economy”. In addition to general information on the idea and the latest development of the technological leap that leads to masses of data being processed in real time and mobile, he presented thoughts on the exponential growth of storage capacities and the „singularity“, and the transformation of data into a collective resource through artificial intelligence (AI), which will dramatically transform the economy and the society in the near future. The rise of platforms and the substitution of vertically organised industries by hybrid collaborations and the resulting consequences for companies were addressed as well as the change of business models and the impact on labor and education markets. Finally, the implications for international trade and the much-cited globalisation as well as geopolitics were assessed. Thus, questions were dealt with which are of great professional and personal value, especially for international business students. It was therefore not surprising that a lively discussion developed after the presentation. Together with the speaker, the students reflected on the positive and negative implications of digitalisation and the ever-increasing data collecting.   

@ Henning: Thank you very much for visiting us!

Additional information:

The teaching concept is based on blended learning and research-based learning. The course is modelled around the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Students are provided with various access points to the course contents, which can be combined or used on a standalone basis: learning videos, textbook, webinars, library excursions, tutorials, walk-in labs and poster labs support individual learning styles.

For more information on poster conferences in general see my article.

Reflections on evaluations and (critical) feedback

The never ending evaluation cycle…

Recently, I have held a number of internal and external higher education workshops.

Due to the suggestions of the participants of the first workshops, I had changed some parts of my concept and was now curious to see how these interventions would be received. Surprisingly for me, those parts that were praised initially were now partially criticized. Also those parts were partially criticized which I had taken up (or changed) due to the wishes of previous participants. On the other hand, parts that I left in the workshop despite criticism from the last time participants were now positively appreciated. 

I know these contradictory statements from teaching evaluations of my own courses and lectures at my university:

“It helps that you teach with a headset microphone.” versus “I find it ridiculous and annoying that you teach with a headset microphone.”

“The speed is just right for me” versus “It’s all going way too fast (slow) for me.”

“I find the online units very helpful” versus “I don’t like the online units at all”.

“I think it’s very good how we’re developing the content step by step on the blackboard.” versus “I find it annoying when I don’t get a finished (printed) picture served.” 

And so on…

Of course there is a natural dispersion in many aspects of teaching and learning, but especially with polar and conflicting evaluation results one can start to wonder whether one is doing it right or wrong.

What do I personally learn from this?

1) Small group sizes cannot per se convey a representative picture. Each group unfolds a different dynamic, which also results from the interaction of the individual participants. Although this is a truism, we sometimes tend to take criticism personally and/or professionally very seriously. Especially if we have reflected intensively on the instructional design beforehand.

2) It is unlikely that the expectations and needs of all participants can be fully satisfied. Therefore a seemingly unconditional positive feedback should be rather critically questioned. This holds true for the reverse case as well.

3) Diplomatically phrased statements like „I would have wished for…“ indicate individual needs, which do no not have to coincide with the wishes of other participants or the intended learning outcome of the workshop. Each participant has his or her own truth. And this applies to the instructor or coach as well…

Conclusion: Although evaluations and feedback can provide important indications for interventions, the instructor or coach is responsible for a theoretically and conceptually sound workshop concept. Not every criticism or suggestion should lead directly to an intervention.

In other words: Stay true to the intended learning outcome and the corresponding instructional design. Intervene cautiously and not erratically. Do not let yourself be carried away by the wishes of selected participants who speak out loud.