Seminars, lectures, coaching and consulting for university staff, companies and others: all this and more is offered at Kiel University’s Continuing Professional Development Center. To mark the occasion of its 25th anniversary, director Annekatrin Mordhorst looks back at the early days and ahead to the future.
unizeit: Congratulations on this anniversary, Ms. Mordhorst. What led to the founding of the Continuing Professional Development Center in 1996?
Annekatrin Mordhorst: The centre was founded by the former Faculty of Education (EWF). The reason for it was that teachers who were returning to working life after a long break wanted continuing professional development opportunities at the interface between science and practice, and especially in the field of didactics. I was taken on as the coordination officer for continuing professional development, and as a one-woman undertaking determined the requirements and prepared offers. To this end, I brought the faculty lecturers on board as speakers. The first, fee-based seminars revolved around the topics "New media in school lessons" and "The Internet, Parts 1 and 2". Remember, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy at the time. We also ran workshops on the results of research involving schoolchildren, such as "Dealing with aggressive children and adolescents", which were very popular.
What happened next?
In 1997 we expanded our educational and didactic offer to include university teachers. Two years later, the Continuing Professional Development Center moved from the EWF to Central Administration, where we are connected to the University Board as a separate unit. With the support of the university, we were able to steadily increase our offer for professional, development-orientated and needs-based support for all CAU staff in science, technology and administration.
At the same time, we developed further offers for students, companies and other external specialists. In 2000, for instance, the university's Audimax was the venue for the first “contacts” company trade fair, where companies could introduce themselves to students. Making contact with companies is also the focus of the Career Center, which was founded in 2002/2003 and where we support students as they embark on their professional lives.
Since 2003, we have also offered continuing professional development in the form of coaching for executives from the private sector as well as various other further education courses. In the case of the latter, external specialists can exchange ideas with the university's scientific staff from different departments. This means that the Continuing Professional Development Center is an interface for the transfer of science from the university to the world of work.
Through the affiliated ZWW e.V. association, Kiel University organises further education courses in subjects that include "Hospital Management", "Migraine and Headache Medicine" or the post-graduate course in "Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy", and currently the certificate in "Sexual Medicine".
What's special about the Continuing Professional Development Center?
What makes it special is without doubt our diversity and the flexibility with which we can respond to new needs. The spectrum of our offers ranges from the certificate programmes University Didactics and Digital Teaching, Leadership Competence, Intercultural Skills and Office Management to seminars on personality development, career planning and self-competence to project management, scientific working techniques and language courses. In addition, we also offer individual consultations and coaching on professional and personal challenges in the university working world. To this end, we work with a team of highly qualified lecturers, trainers and coaches. Our offers are popular and much in demand. In 2020, we held 539 courses with a total of 4,329 participants. And the “contacts” trade fair in 2019 reached a total of 9,470 participants.
Continuing education used to be mainly face-to-face. And then came COVID. How did you overcome the challenges of the past few months?
We offered our further education courses online. The changeover was easy and straightforward, and very well received by the participants. The advantage was that we were able to be flexible with arranging course times, adapting them to the working hours of the participants, who joined us from all over Germany. This interest in our events confirmed the success of the digital switch. So we shall continue to offer digital formats in addition to face-to-face events.
What topics move you for the future?
On the one hand, we want to get our digital offer on an even more professional footing. Another focus will be on communication, especially in the transfer of knowledge internally and externally in the areas of teaching and research. Something else that is on our to-do list is the expansion of offers for knowledge transfer from the university to the working world. And last but not least, we want to offer good support with individual career strategies. This has to be regularly adapted to the requirements of the current labour market in order to be effective. We are planning a comprehensive range of seminars, workshops, information events and special formats for these key topics.
Something that is of particular importance now, and will continue to be in the future, is our networking both within the entire university and to the outside with our external cooperation partners from research institutes and universities as well as companies in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. My team and I are very much looking forward to new and exciting challenges.
Author: Jennifer Ruske
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