In May 2015, I participated in a faculty exchange program at PH Luzern in Lucerne, Switzerland. I was very excited to participate in this exchange because it involved giving a series of guest lectures, a workshop, and several meetings with administrators, faculty, and students. The faculty exchange was initially setup by the Dean of the College of Social Science, Mathematics and Education in an effort to increase the international perspectives and awareness of the faculty at UTampa as well as collaboration between the two institutions. After getting permission from the Dean and setting up the initial contact with the International Office at PH Luzern, I was put in contact with one of the professors in the Informatics Department (Hanspeter). The result of several months of email was a two week program.
Traveling to Lucerne was nice adventure that included flying into Zurich and then taking a one hour train ride from Zurich airport to Lucerne. At the train station, I was greeted by Hanspeter and we walked to a nice restaurant by the river were I met several colleagues that I had already met via email. It was nice to finally see them in person. This lunch was immediately follow with a meeting with Prof. Dr. Michael Zutavern (Vice Rector of PH Lucern) and Brigitte Kursteiner (Head of International Relations). During the meeting I was given an overview of PH Luzern including the different programs that are offered, the student body and the Swiss higher education system. I also had the opportunity to talk about The University of Tampa, the Education Department programs, and specifically, talk about the ID&T program.
The days after my arrival in Lucern included:
– Guest lectures to the graduates students in which we discussed the use of use and implementation of instructional simulations and educational games. During the guest lectures the students also shared their projects related to Robotics in the K-12 classroom.
– A brown bag lecture to faculty in which I share my current multi & interdisciplinary research efforts and collaborations. It was fantastic to share some of my initial findings and the significance of my research with others. It serve as a way to get feedback and, in some cases, it served to think about potential future collaborations.
– A visit to a middle school with a 1-to-1 tablet program in which students are taught about media literacy. It was nice to learn about the collaborations of the school with universities in the U.S. and to learn about the implementation of the tablet program for specific parts of the curriculum. Spending the day in the middle school also gave me plenty of time to talk to the teachers and to discuss the challenges and benefits of the implementation of the tablet program.
– Several meetings with administrators and other faculty members. I met with the EduWeb team which basically serves as the instructional design and educational technology support for the faculty and staff at PH Luzern. I also met with the head of research and development at PH Luzern (Werner Wicki). We discussed some of the research projects that faculty members have published and some upcoming projects for the future. During my meeting with Dr. Wicki we also discussed our own research interests and topics.
– Cultural activities such as Ascension Day traditions and celebrations, hiking the Titlis and Burgenstock, the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Rosengart Museum, cruising Lake Lucerne, and exploring the beautiful city of Lucerne.
I want to thank my colleagues at PH Luzern for their warm welcome and hospitality during my visit in May. It was great to learn about the higher education studies in Switzerland and to learn about the programs offered at PH Luzern. Also, thank you for giving me an opportunity to share some of my research efforts and my knowledge with the faculty and students.
I truly enjoyed the experience! It was more than a professional exchange, it was also a cultural experience. I was able to learn about your holidays, geography, food, and the people of Lucerne (and surrounding areas). Again, thank you all for taking the time to meet with me. I look forward to our planned future collaborations (coming soon)!