Ulm Teaching Incubators - A funding program from Ulm University for the teaching of the future

Zahnräder mit verschiedenen Symbolen, z. B. @, Link,Anker, Werkzeug, Welt, Lupe, Link, Stoppuhr etc.. Bild "geschäft-suche-motor-internet-2082639"von ar130405 auf Pixabay

In the Ulm Teaching Incubator you can...

... identify promising teaching formats beyond the mainstream!
... promote the development of new focal points in teaching and apply for funding!
... cooperate across disciplines and overcome traditional boundaries within Ulm University!

What are teaching incubators?

Ulm teaching incubators facilitate

  • profiling in and with up-to-date teaching
  • sustainable implementation of new developments in teaching at Ulm University
  • a trans- and interdisciplinary treatment of relevant teaching topics
  • good starting opportunities in competitive and tendering processes.

Ulm teaching incubators set incentives for

  • better teaching
  • student marketing
  • application for funding of teaching procects

Ulm University provides individual teachers and groups with financial resources so that they can intensively develop, test, evaluate and publish innovative teaching developments. The supported teachers and teaching groups are supported and advised by the Center for Teaching Development. 

Funded projects in the first call for proposals in spring 2023

Rasante Entwicklungen im Bereich dialogorientierter Künstlicher Intelligenz (KI) wie ChatGPT, LlaMA, LaMDA oder Bing AI bergen neue Herausforderungen, aber auch großes Potenzial für die Lehre. Hinsichtlich des Potenzials für die Lehre stellen sich zwei Fragen: Wie können dialogorientierte KI-Tools Lernprozesse von Studierenden unterstützen? Wie können Studierende auf den Um-gang mit dialogorientierten KI-Tools im späteren Berufsleben vorbereitet werden (Stichwort: „AI Literacy“)? Das Projekt Einsatz dialogorientierter KI zur Steigerung des Lernerfolgs und der AI Literacy (KI-KIStLe) zielt darauf ab, Einsatzmöglichkeiten dialogorientierter KI-Tools zur Unterstützung der Lehre im Bereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften zu entwickeln und zu evaluieren sowie in Form von validierten Methodenkarten Lehrenden aller Fakultäten zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Rapid developments in the field of dialog-oriented artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT, LlaMA, LaMDA or Bing AI pose new challenges, but also great potential for teaching. Regarding the potential for teaching, two questions arise: How can conversational AI tools support students' learning processes? How can students be prepared for dealing with dialog-oriented AI tools in their later professional life (keyword: "AI Literacy")? The project Use of Dialog-Oriented AI to Increase Learning Success and AI Literacy (KI-KIStLe) aims to develop and evaluate possible uses of dialog-oriented AI tools to support teaching in the field of economics and to make them available to teachers in all faculties in the form of validated method cards. 


Neben Fachkompetenzen sind in der Industrie Vorgehensweisen gefragt, komplexe Problemstellungen schnell und innovativ zu lösen. Das Lösungsdesign als wesentliche Problemlösungskompetenz in komplexen Systemen und Vorstufe des Entrepreneurship ist eine Schlüsselkompetenz des 21. Jahrhunderts. Studierende technologieorientierter Fachrichtungen erfahren eine exzellente Fachausbildung, haben aber häufig ein Defizit in dieser wesentlichen, praxisrelevanten Metakompetenz. Das Projekt zielt darauf ab, diese Lücke zu schließen, indem ein Lehrmodul „Lösungsdesign“ entwickelt und beispielhaft umgesetzt wird, welches flexibel in alle Studiengänge integriert werden kann. Das Ergebnis sind Learning-Nuggets sowie ein Train-the-Trainer Kurskonzept. Die Übertragbarkeit in beispielsweise berufsbildende oder schulische Ausbildungskontexte soll gewährleistet werden.

In addition to specialist skills, industry requires approaches that enable complex problems to be solved quickly and innovatively. Solution design as an essential problem-solving competence in complex systems and a precursor to entrepreneurship is a key competence of the 21st century. Students of technology-oriented disciplines experience excellent technical education, but often have a deficit in this essential, practice-relevant metacompetency. The project aims to close this gap by developing and exemplarily implementing a "solution design" teaching module that can be flexibly integrated into all degree programs. The results are learning nuggets and a train-the-trainer course concept. The transferability into e.g. vocational or school education contexts shall be guaranteed.

This proposal aims to integrate cutting-edge machine learning (ML) techniques into the economics, computer science, and mathematics curriculum. The planned teaching initiative covers the fun-damentals of ML, including supervised and unsupervised learning techniques like decision trees or clustering, as well as the latest models in deep learning, such as encoder/decoder architectures or attention-based transformer models. Students will work in mul-tidisciplinary teams, using these techniques to nalyse real-world economic datasets and address original research questions. Students will also learn how to incorporate AI-based conversational agents like ChatGPT as tools into their workflow. They will learn about these tools’ ethical and legal aspects and discuss pitfalls and challenges. A unique aspect of this course is integrating a peer review system to improve students’ projects.

Funded projects in the second call for proposals in summer 2023

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Güttel & Dr.-Ing. Jens Friedland
(Faculty of Natural Sciences | Institute of Chemical Engineering)

The teaching incubator project aims to develop a pilot model to balance out the heterogeneity of students in terms of learning culture and existing knowledge in an international Master's degree programme. For this purpose, a course from the international Master's degree programme in Chemical Engineering will be selected that is particularly suitable and for which there is already sound experience with the use of innovative teaching methods. In particular, a combination of portfolio examination and assessment in a peer review process with small group work is promising, which allows for individually tailored and feedback-orientated learning opportunities. Initial concrete experiences with the basic concept are already available from the summer semester 2023, which will be further developed as part of the project.

Prof. Dr. Rebekka Hufendiek, Dr. Katja Springer & Roman Yaremko, PhD
(Humboldt-Centre, School of Humanities)

The Computer Science and Society module is an interdisciplinary and innovative course format in which a) basic argumentation skills, b) sensitivity to socially relevant topics in computer science, and c) ethical concepts and skills relevant to this area (autonomy, security, responsibility, etc., weighing up values, justifying ethical assumptions, etc.) are learnt and actively practised. To this end, the course is divided into lectures and written examinations as well as panel discussions and reflection reports. In the panel discussions, students are asked to take on distributed roles in discussions with experts from the field (AI and automated decision-making, data protection, sustainability, democracy and social media, digital participation, military technology, etc.) and then summarise their arguments in a reflection report.

What is the time frame for the teaching incubators?

The funding period in the teaching incubator is a maximum of 2 years and includes the following phases::

  • A concept phase of one semester for intensive conceptual work and preparation of an implementation phase ("Konzeptionsphase")
  • A practical phase of 1-2 semesters in which the concept is tested ("Praxisphase")
  • A follow-up phase of a maximum of one semester, in which the evaluation results can be evaluated and, if necessary, improvements to the concept can be made ("Nachbereitungsphase").

What exactly is funded?

The maximum amount of funding for individually funded persons is €50,000, teaching groups are funded with up to €100,000. The funds are used for start-up financing, which may also be spent outside of the actual teaching project to create free space for teaching. It is conceivable, for example, to award external contracts, spend on laboratory and teaching room equipment or increase the number of staff (e.g. as part of a limited qualification).

The funding is closely linked to the advice and workshops offered by the Center for Teaching Development. The ZLE supports the funded persons and groups in acquiring second and third-party funds and in the publication of their concepts, results and teaching materials (also as OER).

When and how can I apply?

The application deadline for the second round of calls for proposals is June 30, 2024; applications are open with an option to begin the conception phase in the winter semester 2024/25 or the summer semester 2025. Funding commitments are sent out to the successful applicants at the beginning of August, and the official award ceremony will take place as part of the Tag der Lehre (Teaching Day) on October 17, 2024.

The organization of the advertisement and application phase is carried out by the Center for Teaching Development, the colleagues of the ZLE will be happy to answer your questions. An application consists of a maximum of 4 pages. Please use this template for your application (Download .docx, Download PDF). Applications are submitted via zle(at)uni-ulm.de.

According to which criteria are the applications evaluated?

The appraisal of the applications and the decision on funding is made by a committee consisting of representatives of the teaching staff as well as representatives of the Executive Committee and students. When deciding on the funding, the members of the selection criterion based their decision on the following criteria in particular:

  • innovation content
  • practicability
  • fitting to the incubator topics
  • willingness to participate intensively in the discourse in the incubator
  • interdisciplinarity
  • development potential
  • transferability

What obligations arise from the funding?

  • The success of the funded incubator projects is recorded and assessed in regular monitoring. In addition to evaluating the teaching in the practical phase, this also includes recording the impact of the funding measure using general criteria and criteria specifically tailored to your project, which will be communicated to you with the funding approval.
  • Funded persons or groups report on their project progress and results at the network events at the University of Ulm (e.g. day of teaching, ideas fair, didactics lunch, incubator network meetings)
  • If possible, also report on your incubator concept and the results with visibility beyond the University of Ulm at conferences, in publications or similar formats.
Glühbirnen plus Zahnräder ist gleich Balkendiagramm mit steigenden Werten. Bild von ar130405 auf Pixabay.

Please address your questions to the Center for teaching development


Focal points of the 2024 call for proposals:

  • research-oriented teaching
  • digitization in teaching
  • entrepreneurship in teaching

However, applications with a high degree of innovation in teaching can also be submitted beyond these focal points; this is not an exclusion criterion.