The dimeb Research Group

The research group Digital Media in Education is concerned on the one hand with educational applications in computer science and media informatics, and on the other hand with digital media and media education within the context of pedagogical didactics. The research group is part of the computer science department and the Center for Computing and Communication Technologies (TZI).  We are also in charge of foundation courses “digital media in educational contexts” for prospective teachers of all subjects. This is a chance to define a generic profile for digital media in education that builds bridges between the cultures of technology and education, based on an interdisciplinary orientation.

The close link to educational theory and practice is a chance to experience this field of application as a special challenge to design computers and digital media in a useful, enjoyable and responsible manner. For computer scientists and professional media designers the field of education is an important field of practice. Growing demands on the part of society and professional life can be expected.

For children and youth, digital media is a crucial factor in the course of their socialization and for experiencing and changing the world. In classroom as well as in out-of-school teaching it is important to understand the potentials of digital media insofar that children of both genders as well as different educational and ethnical milieus can benefit for their development processes. Prospective school teachers have to be prepared for these tasks. Also in adult and vocational training, media education is increasingly gaining importance with regard  to an active attitude and co-design of living and working environments as well as for life-long-learning.

Important topics in the focus of the research group include issues surrounding intercultural communication, responsibility for disadvantaged children and youths and a purposeful orientation to the needs and interests of both genders with the aim of achieving greater diversity in the design of technology, in software products, and their application in context. We engage in regional as well as national and international cooperation.

In research and teaching we focus on the following subjects:

  • Hardware and software development for educational contexts. New interaction technologies like tangibles, full-body interaction and mobile technologies are of special relevance.
  • Research on new requirements and concepts for design methodologies in educational applications, design for reflection and experience
  • Reflection and design of learning environments and didactical concepts where technology has to be embedded in order to stimulate learning.
  • Concepts for an encompassing media education and media literacy, see also
  • Empirical research and evaluation on digital media and education

Key questions for research and teaching are:

  • How and in what circumstances can knowledge of digital media and computer science be acquired best? How can curiosity in technology be aroused?
  • What knowledge of the medium is needed in order act with and to influence it competently and sustainably, to influence its appearance and to understand and shape developments in knowledge society?
  • Which design of digital media is best for education and how does it have to be embedded in contexts? What benefits can be expected from tangible, full-body, mobile interaction and social networks?
  • How does the design process for digital media have to be organized  in order to be open for educational purposes and for participation?
  • How does the (self-)construction of the subject change in a  culture shaped by digital media?

The technical skills, necessary to use computers should not be seen as separate from the competences needed to understand and to design media content. In the case of digital media the transitions between technology and content as well as between expert knowledge and novices are permeable. Media literacy means that technical skills and content-production flow into one another, users have to play an active role and become designers themselves. To be able to shape contents is based on technological curiosity and knowledge. For software designers it is necessary that they recognize the field of application, orient towards the needs and interests of users, and understand the cultural, social and economic circumstances. Interaction and interactivity are crucial categories for building bridges between the technical and the social.

Research and teaching projects

dimeb’s projects in research and teaching are based on these leading questions and thematize the following topics:

  • Digital Media and computer systems are developed and adapted for mainly educational fields of application. We integrate users at an early stage in the process of development, supporting them in obtaining IT and media literacies in order to be able to have a say in it. It is our goal to give users high autonomy in respect of administration, changes and adaptations of the software. The methods we use in the process of software development are based on methods of participatory design, interaction design, and experience design. In the context of education we explore a special methodology called “design for reflection“.
  • As member of the TZI (Technologiezentrum Informatik und Informationstechnik) we refer to most current and innovative technologies and we transfer these concepts to users at a very early stage. We analyze and use especially tangible, full-body, mobile technologies and social  software.
  • The specific role of digital media has brought about  a need for changes in education and learning: These  changes are reflected, evaluated and shaped in our projects.
  • Digital media is designed in direct cooperation with children or adult users, with schools and leisure facilities, with teachers and students, with companies and museums. They are tested and evaluated in context.
  • We evaluate digital environments and analyze how digital media is used and how it shapes activities, identity construction and how we relate to the world.
  • In our research, we are interested in exploring connections between paradigms and concepts of computer science and gender equality. We are interested in opening up access for people with different ethnical backgrounds and economic status. We are interested in correlations between art and digital media.<ins></ins>
  • Under the title TechKreativ we offer different programmes, which are aimed at children and adults. In these workshops, children as well as adults can access computing technologies and digital media in a creative way as inventors of innovative solutions, applying new forms and methods of learning and design. The center of interaction with digital media, Zentrum für Interaktion mit Digitalen Medien (ZIM) is the place where the dimeb team, students, children and cooperation partners find a suitable environment which enables them to gain insights into the genesis of technology and to explore digital media.

The team

The broad range of research and its interdisciplinarity are also reflected in the composition of the team, comprising computer scientists, media people, educationalists, sociologists, representatives from cultural studies and arts. We all are united by a passionate interest in digital media and its usage in educational contexts. Prof. Dr. Heidi Schelhowe is head of the team.