While the prime role of universities is to create and disseminate new knowledge and educate conveyors of knowledge, they themselves are largely compartmentalized with little interaction. In a way, academia is not one ivory tower, but a city of towers. We try to counter that through our own work, by transdisciplinary collaboration within our own university, with other institutions and with industry partners. Research and education at universities needs to address greater societal needs. To foster this, we are involved in the direct transfer of knowledge to the public. We are also actively participating in the public discourse.
We encourage our students to publish their own software as free and open source software and give guidance on how to do this. It is our firm believe that it is our duty as scientists to be visible in the public debate. We have to offer our expertise to whom ever might need it, help the general public to understand the issues we are working on, listen to concerns that those that are affected by the technologies we produce have and learn to mitigate negative effects while promoting positive ones.
Research does not usually happen quietly and alone, but in teams where different members contribute with their own competences and ideas. A transdisciplinary work practice helps to think outside the box and transgress the borders of one's own discipline. Therefore, we am not only available to the media, but also actively engaged in policy development.
We consider it a privilege to be able to connect with the general public through exhibitions and demonstrations of technology as well as through public lectures. We are also open to be involved in entrepreneurial activities, for example through mentoring of and consulting for start-ups and through joint supervision of student theses with small and medium enterprises.
We are active in the expert group on "Digitalisation of Teacher Education" within the Network for Teacher Education in Lower Saxony (Niedersächsischer Verbund zur Lehrerbildung) . This expert group advises the universities and governmental departments in Lower Saxony on issues of using digital media within the state's teacher education programs and on standards for competencies in digital media for teachers in Lower Saxony.
Within the exist start-up grant framework, we have been mentoring the founders of virtual reality games developer "Hastily Assembled", Emmy Förster and Thomas Löwe. In April 2018, the start-up won an award for "Digital Innovations" by the German Federal Ministry on Economics and Energy. The company's first product, "Tracy Laser Conquers the Virtual Reality!", is currently under development. We are also involved with the Australian Learning and Teaching Technology start-up Audaxi. Audaxi's goal is to deliver modern learning management systems, frameworks for learning analytics, and adaptive learning platforms in the higher education sector. Whenever appropriate, we are actively encouraging students with innovative ideas to consider starting their own company. In collaboration with the Hildesheim University of Applied Science (HAWK), we can offer them support both from the scientific-technical and the entrepreneurial side.