Urban modelling for post-industrial cities: virtual collaboration in Geo Sciences

A full digital block course in the field of Geo Sciences has been co-designed and conducted by three teachers from Uni Liège, Uni Zagreb and Ruhr University Bochum. Students worked with and reflected on satellite data to model urban growth and change in small internationally mixed groups.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Rienow, Uni Bochum, coordinated the collaboration with his colleagues at Uni Zagreb, Dr. Luka Valožic, and Uni Liège, Prof. Dr. Jacques Teller.

Thematically, the teachers agreed on urban modelling, as appropriate to all contexts. On the basis of regional case studies from „hot spots“ of urbanisation, the necessary work steps for recording and modelling urbanisation were carried out. First, the derivation of urban growth from satellite data was discussed. In a second step, the necessary input data for the cellular automaton SLEUTH were processed. Subsequently, the spatio-temporal changes were quantified, patterns of urbanisation were analysed and finally scenarios of urban growth were calculated and validated with the modelling environment XULU. The internationally mixed student groups then presented their own project in the form of an interactive ESRI Story Map.

The students gained an impression of how differently courses of study can be structured in the same subject area. The feedback from the involved German and Croatian students was particularly positive about the practical implementation of the seminar. Internationally mixed small groups ensured that students exchanged ideas without the lecturers during the seminar, but also afterwards during the independent project work and the preparation of results in the form of story maps.

Mentoring activities: The project work took place in breakout sessions. The teachers regularly „walked“ through the rooms, but they were also permanently available during and after the seminar via email and Zoom.

Learnings: To ensure the success of a digital international course, it is important to get together one year in advance and discuss the goals and implementation methods. CP allocation, embedding formats in the respective study program, etc. should be clarified in advance.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Rienow; Dr. Luka Valožic; Prof. Dr. Jacques Teller