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PROLEARN Summer School, September 5th - 9th, 2005 in Turkey

by Ralf Klamma, 06. 04. 2005

The first ProLearn Summer School ran from September 5-9, 2005 in Sile (close to Istanbul) on Campus of Isik University in Turkey.
The objective of the ProLearn Summer School was to contribute to the creation of an institutional culture, integrating distributed researchers across Europe into one community. It provides a framework for structuring a number of on going research, training, and scientific leadership activities. Three types of activities were scheduled:
* Research Conferences
* Entrepreneurship Programme
* Training activities and scientific leadership activities

Within this context, the main focus of the review was laid on “integration activities” in the context of the research conferences and the training and scientific leadership activities.

All participants stayed on campus either in student dorms or in lecturer apartments.
The Summer School managed to attract about 60 participants: About 40 PhD students coming from 18 different nations, 14 instructors from ProLearn project partners, 8 speakers (mainly not project partners) for the Entrepreneurship day, 4 additional participants and 5 persons who were responsible for the organisation (all ProLearn project partners).

other interesting links to the summer school:
official Summer School website (incl. pics, reports, programme...)
report at the Interactive Media site
Discussion Forum

Networked Confolios

In addition several people from the local host managed the day-to-day business (e.g. registration, organisation of shuttle buses, social events etc.) throughout the entire event.
The conference days started with a junior faculty member or mentoring breakfast at 8 am, the lectures ran from 9 am to 6:30 pm with lunch and coffee breaks.

For socialising with one another sport activities were offered in the evening. The day closed with PhD forums. In addition, ProLearn members offered the PhD students bi-lateral, informal meetings for recommendations, advice etc. During the sport activities for the students, project meetings for ProLearn members were scheduled (e.g. to discuss the Joint European Master Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning or to prepare a Joint Marie Curie Research Training Network proposal). Finally, several social events were organised (e.g., summer school dinner in Sile, Trip to Istanbul etc.)


Faculty member and mentoring breakfast
The idea was to offer an informal atmosphere for PhD students so they could get in contact with the more senior participants. For this purpose a “mentoring breakfast table” was established in the cafeteria. For example, topics addressed included career-and-opportunity discussions etc.

The lectures were mainly organised according to the different work packages of the ProLearn project. The lecturers were member of the ProLearn project. Most of them were researchers at a senior level but some few were , at the level of “advanced PhD students”. The lectures had the aim to provide an overview about a specific field of research in the area of technology-enhanced learning (e.g. metadata, mobile learning, and interoperability of educational systems).

Sport Activities
Students could choose between various different sport disciplines. The many sport facilities on campus supported the students in informally forming a group and contributed to establish contacts among the participants which will last longer than the summer school event.

PhD forums
For different research topics with relevance to the ProLearn activities different thematic PhD forums were offered. The forums were well balanced between informal atmosphere and seriousness which is necessary to really achieve the intended objectives. This balance was of particular importance since the forums did not start before 9pm in the evening.
PhD students could choose their forum according to the topic of their PhD thesis. Two senior researchers (often at the Professor level) moderated each PhD forum. The main idea of the forum was
o to offer PhD students an opportunity to present the current state of their PhD thesis
o to exchange experiences with each other about how to write a PhD thesis
o to get advice from the senior researchers and also from the other PhD students.

The recommendations for the students addressed the following aspects
* What is the importance of a guiding research hypothesis for a PhD thesis and how to formulate it
* How to conduct a comprehensive literature review
* What is the importance of research papers and how to write them
* How to achieve the right balance between doing the research or programming for the thesis and the actual “writing” of the thesis

Another aim of the PhD forums was to identify synergies between the research of different students and to foster joint research activities. Also, senior researchers from the ProLearn project offered the PhD students to continue their support virtually after the ProLearn summer school (e.g. to bring them in contact with other PhD who work in the same area but who did not participate in the summer school). Finally, all ProLearn tools were made available to the PhD students to continue joint activities which originated from the ProLearn Summer School.
Finally, the students’ input also fed into ProLearn activities:
o Student input is considered for the road mapping work packages
o Capturing and integrating PhD student expertise into the VCC
o Synchronisation of activities and synergy identification between VCC and Academy

Bi-lateral meetings
Bi-lateral meetings between ProLearn members and PhD students took place throughout the entire time. The objective was to offer very personalised advice to the students and to connect them with other groups which did not participate in the summer school.

source: review report Prolearn Summer School by Klaus Tochtermann; 26 October 2005


EC-TEL 17-20 September 2007 Crete, Greece

Katherine Maillet

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