The 19th annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Schlüsselkompetenzen in Lehre, Forschung und Praxis = GfSK e. V. (Society for Key Competences in Teaching, Research and Practice) took place from 16 to 19 November 2022 under the motto “Student Life Cycle: Key Competences as a ‘must’ or just ‘nice to have’”. The event is organised every year in cooperation with a different German university. This year, the conference was successfully staged in cooperation with the Institute for Intercultural Communication (IIC) on the campus of Aschaffenburg UAS. It is open to members of the society as well as other interested parties.
Almost 100 representatives of universities and university-related institutions from all over Germany took part in the Aschaffenburg conference, including 15 speakers.
The GfSK pursues the goal of researching the significance of key competencies for human activity and highlighting their special importance and benefits for careers and the quality of life.
The theme of the conference focused on dealing with and acquiring key competences along the student life cycle caught between being mandatory and optional competences. This also included the discussion of whether and in which phases of the student life cycle different key competences play a particularly central role and why. The question when the application and development of such competences at the beginning, during and towards the end of studies are ‘musts’ and when they are only ‘nice to have’ was explored in keynote speeches and workshops.
Three high-calibre keynote speeches prepared the conference delegates for the motto.
The conference opened with an online keynote by Elias Faltin, Game Designer and Project Manager from the Department of Game Design at Uppsala University's Gotland Campus in Sweden. In his keynote, he presented the SkillMill app, which promotes students' awareness of soft skills in a playful way, especially after a stay abroad.
In her keynote speech on the second day of the conference, Prof. Dr. Doris Ternes, head of the Centre for Higher Education Didactics and Lifelong Learning (ZHL) at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, addressed the value of competences from general education to future prospects.
Mohanna Azarmandi, Chief Learning Officer at Microsoft Germany, concluded the conference with an online keynote entitled "Lifelong Learning & Learning Culture in the Digital Age. What key competences does Germany need - a perspective from Microsoft Germany's Chief Learning Officer".
All three keynotes were documented with graphic recordings. Suzanne Lawerentz, visual artist and lecturer at Aschaffenburg UAS, had drawn the graphic recordings simultaneously as illustrated protocols. Graphic Recordings graphically capture what is said in real time and thus visually support the recording of key statements at events and conferences with illustrations.
Four workshops, each offered twice, on all phases of the student life cycle offered provided opportunities for intensive exchange and constructive discussion.
The workshop on entering higher education presented best practice examples and findings on key competences from ten years of the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences' Entry Academy. The workshop on the course of the studies addressed the question whether key competences are a long-established (usually well-formatted) mantra or a forward-looking (and thus newly conceived) requirement. The workshop on the end of the studies dealt with teaching competences for this phase using experiences from the Perspectives Laboratory of the House of Competence (HoC) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
A special Crash Course ‘Career’ on the topic of “Successful Self-Marketing and Professional Appearance” was aimed at cooperative doctoral students of the iDok of Aschaffenburg UAS as well as interested Master's students, who received tips on how to better present themselves and their theses.
The delegates also had the opportunity to get to know the current dissertations at the iDok in the context of a poster exhibition.
Within the framework of the conference, the working group and expert committee spokespersons, the board, the regional working groups and expert committees of the GfSK met. At the general meeting, current developments were discussed and a new board was elected. The certified pedagogue Heike Kröpke was confirmed as chairperson of the board. The board was completed with the election of Dr. Barbara Clasen (Dortmund UAS), Katharina Kroll (Systemic Counselling) and Prof. Dr. Renate Link (Aschaffenburg UAS) for the next two years.
During a guided tour of the city, the conference delegates got to know the old town of Aschaffenburg and addressed the conference motto in a humorous way by the regional dialect cabaret artist Lore Hock. On the last day of the conference, an online warm-up by a tenth-generation Taiji master live from China rounded off the supporting programme.
All three keynote speakers, Sonja Sridharan, the Aschaffenburg UAS’ Human Resources Development Officer, as well as Gerhard Rienecker, Chairman of the Executive Board of the internationally operating PASS Consulting Group based in Aschaffenburg, recapitulated, deepened and questioned the findings from the three conference days as well as their relevance for universities and companies in a panel discussion led by Prof. Dr. Renate Link, which was held on the last day of the conference. Professor Link, Director of the IIC, and Birgit Kraus, cooperative doctoral student at the IIC and the Department of Social and Historical Sciences at the TU Darmstadt.
Left to right: Prof. Dr. Renate Link, Gerhard Rienecker, Prof. Dr. Doris Ternes
Prof. Dr. Doris Ternes, Sonja Sridharan, Birgit Kraus
Left to right: All participants of the panel discussion
The delegates were very positive about the conference: Two exemplary delegates were quoted as saying “a perfect conference and so complete” and “an inspiring and well-organised conference”. Prof. Dr. Renate Link, director of the IIC, who organised and hosted the annual conference together with the chairperson of the GfSK, certified pedagogue Heike Kröpke, looks back on three successful conference days. As Vice Head of the Language Centre at Aschaffenburg UAS, Prof. Dr. Renate Link has already organised numerous International Language Weeks in Aschaffenburg as well as at foreign partner universities and was able to profitably contribute her many years of experience to the successfully organised annual conference. “I am delighted that the conference was able to take place on-site and would like to express my sincere thanks for the great commitment of the conference team, which contributed greatly to the success of the event,” said Prof. Dr. Renate Link.
The conference programme can be found at https://gfsk.org/19-jahrestagung-16-18-november-2022/.
Dipl.-Päd. Heike Kröpke
Prof. Dr. Renate Link
Prof. Dr. Doris Ternes
Photo at the top, left to right: Prof. Dr. Renate Link, Gerhard Rienecker, Prof. Dr. Doris Ternes, Sonja Sridharan und Birgit Kraus