15 years zdi: 2013 | zdi Academy imparts specialist knowledge and networks the zdi community

Sarah-Lena Debus was very excited at the time. As coordinator of zdi center BeST Bergisches Schul-Technikum she gave her first interview for a television station in 2012. Dealing with the public media was still unfamiliar to her. But she was well prepared. Because she had a communication seminar zdi Academy visited. Here, players in the zdi community receive special know-how for coordinating a zdi network or zdi student laboratory. The academy also offers space for exchanging experiences and networking.

By the time the zdi Academy officially started in 2013, several media seminars had already been organized by the zdi state office for the zdi coordinators. “In October 2011 I took part in camera and interview training for zdi centers at the zdi Academy. This was my first training course at the zdi Academy,” Sarah-Lena Debus remembers. “I thought they were particularly great, of course everything was still new and exciting back then. Many coordinators and employees from various zdi centers came together for exchange and training. I felt well integrated and welcome.”

With the founding of the zdi Academy, additional specialist knowledge should now be offered to the zdi coordinators and important network partners.

The academy imparts specialist knowledge and networks the zdi community

Technical seminars offer know-how that is necessary for the work as zdi coordinators. This includes, for example, applying for and processing subsidies, basic legal knowledge or dealing with social media.

In the exchange experiences the actors from the zdi networks and zdi student laboratories enter into a joint discourse. Various sponsorship models, how to deal specifically with schoolgirls, future technologies or successful MINT offers are discussed. Kerstin v. Scheidt, coordinator of the zdi center investMINT Oberberg, remembers the multi-stage exchange of experience particularly well Creation of sustainable structures. Together with other zdi colleagues, she analyzed the structure of her network and worked on new ideas. “When I took part in the exchange of experiences, I had already been the zdi coordinator for seven years. I found the review and analysis of my network compared to the others to be very helpful and inspiring.” Also, she adds, I have lasting relationships through this exchange of experiences zdi colleagues throughout NRW built up.

The academy strengthens cohesion in the zdi community

Many visitors to the zdi Academy appreciate the informal atmosphere of the events. So does Sarah-Lena Debus: “Back then, we practiced interview situations, especially how to deal with critical questions and how to write brief statements, without getting bogged down in lengthy explanations. Certainly it is not the case every day in the working environment that you have to give camera interviews, but since this does happen, it was just nice to be able to practice this situation in a closed circle with like-minded people.”
Newcomers to the zdi community in particular also benefit from the meetings at the zdi Academy. In addition to the necessary specialist knowledge, they network directly with stakeholders throughout NRW. "For me, the zdi Academy is a very important offer, the newer you are in the zdi network, the more helpful and important the offer is," says Debus.

What does the zdi Academy do?

• Providing specialist knowledge for managing a zdi network or zdi student laboratory
• Organizes professional exchange of experiences
• Provides a platform for conceiving new ideas
• Facilitates networking for newcomers to zdi
• Dedicated qualified and experienced speakers
• Organizes seminars with a high level of practical relevance
• The group of participants has a homogeneous working environment

The academy enables practical insights with like-minded people


In the seminars, special emphasis is placed on practical content and exercises. Since the participants at the zdi Academy come from the same field of activity, the exercises are particularly fruitful. And the speakers or moderators can also be selected precisely tailored to the target group. V. Scheidt also thinks in particular of the various media training courses or marketing seminars: “How do I use language in a precise but also attractive way? This know-how flows into my daily work”. 

Subject-specific exchanges of experience, where MINT actors exchange views on a specific MINT subject, are particularly attractive for zdi coordinators. Nadine Schröder from the Bergische Science Labs at the University of Wuppertal took part in the online biology exchange. She had very specific expectations of the exchange: "The current situation presents us all with special challenges, including in the area of ​​student laboratories. This raises questions such as: Can I also implement the laboratory courses, which live from practical work and direct exchange, in digital formats and are such formats at all suitable alternatives for face-to-face courses? And does everyone actually have to reinvent the wheel from scratch?” And she found out: That is not necessary. “Of course everyone has to design their courses and their content themselves, but the exchange of experiences makes this a lot easier. So it was very interesting to get an insight into the online courses of other student laboratories. The explanations of the organizational and technical procedure were particularly helpful and it was exciting to find out what feedback they received from the students and teachers about their online courses. That gave me and certainly the other participants new impulses, which I will definitely incorporate into the further expansion of our online offer,” Schröder states.

The Corona pandemic is driving the digitization of the zdi Academy

In times of the corona pandemic, the zdi-Akadmie has increasingly switched to online offers. This was accompanied by an increased demand from the zdi coordinators for know-how relating to the organization of digital MINT offers, hygiene concepts for face-to-face courses or data protection guidelines especially for digital operations.

The online offer is very well received. Technical hurdles and obstacles (for example: How do I set up a digital event room? or Which meeting tool is best?) were quickly overcome. In addition, digital appointments do not require any travel time. Therefore, the willingness in the zdi community is higher, because those who are interested are more flexible in their work allocation.

In addition, zdi coordinators have recently been able to visit the STEM community platform Find and book offers from the academy. And for every course booked, the participants receive a digital medal, a graduate badge. The members of the platform can then even choose one from the collected badges personal resume put together.

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