July 1, 2022
After three years of exploring new approaches to academic education, the B3 - Bildung Beyond Boundaries (or “B3”) Initiative is challenging Germany's traditional grant programs in teaching innovation. Nine interdisciplinary research projects were funded with 1.5 million Swiss francs within the B3 Framework, comprising of B3 Symposia, B3 Challenges, and B3 Coordination. With the final symposium at Jacobs University, the preliminary results pave the way for a fundamental paradigm shift of teaching innovation.
All projects involved in the B3 initiative require an integrated research component. Such an evidence-by-design structure differentiates B3 from other German grant opportunities in this field, because it is more labor intensive and involves long semester iterations of data accumulation; hence, making it more expansive.
Furthermore, due to a small statistical population, or N, the B3 projects have produced rather heuristic results. In this regard, the B3 framework on the format and project level served as an explorative experiment to open the way for a paradigm shift in Germany.
Following the results observed within the B3 Framework, pedagogic innovation should be open in subject, methodology, and discipline. The results also indicate that technology, in particular digitalization, acts more as a means rather than a goal.
“In this sense, the German innovation efforts for academic teaching, mainly organized in the federal funding body for teaching innovation ‘Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehrer’, are based on anecdotal evidenced rather than scientific rigor,” says Pablo Zerm, Jacobs University Management Board Member and initiator of the B3 Framework.
About the B3 initiative
Starting in 2019, the Jacobs Foundation has funded the B3 - Education Beyond Boundaries Competition with 1.5 million Swiss francs, in which 14 other universities participated in addition to Jacobs University. More than 100 scientists have learned about pedagogic innovations through dissemination activities, such as the “Brown Bag Lunch” roundtables at Jacobs University, organized by the B3 coordinator Jessica Price.
With the successful, and final, B3 Symposium on June 14th, the B3 Framework has reached its preliminary peak, but calls for translational research in academic education.
“We’re more than grateful that the Jacobs Foundation has provided the funding for the B3 Framework, creating a substantial push in establishing evidence-based innovation in teaching and learning in Germany,” mentioned Zerm.