Ten Years of University Teaching

My research and teaching group just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and I wanted to take some time to reflect on our teaching: What worked and what didn’t.


When I started as a university professor ten years ago, I drew on my experience as a student, as a teacher, as a practitioner, and as an entrepreneur, to define the basic principles of how I wanted to teach:

  1. Theory and practice should be joined at the hip; there should only be minimal delay, if any, between hearing some concept and applying it in practice
  2. Learning requires repetition and practice, so the theory and practice of something to learn needs to be drawn out over several iterations to become effective
  3. Learning is a marathon, not a sprint; therefore, learning and using the stick (grading) to direct learning should be continuous and not a fire-and-forget exercise
  4. Feedback needs to be immediate and connected to a student’s actual doing, and not come at the end of a semester or later
  5. Learning is holistic; while some concepts can be isolated, more often than not, concepts interact and require a realistic setting to be learned
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Upcoming AMOS Demo Day at IAV’s DigiLab

IAV GmbH (Berlin) will be hosting this winter semester’s AMOS demo day. Four student teams will present the results of their work, ranging from a logistics dashboard, through an ECU dashboard, a Git module configuration tool, to a next generation HMI app for Android Automotive OS.

Time10:15am (start) to 11:45 (end)
LocationIAV DigiLab, Hallerstr. 6, (1tes OG), 10587 Berlin

If you would like to attend, please drop me a note.

The Perfect Professor for University Startups

A professor, so my belief, can play an important role in generating startups from University research. Most professors don’t, but some do, and I wanted to summarize my experiences as to what would be the perfect combination in one person.


There are three ingredients to get a university startup set-up and off the ground: (1) team, (2) idea, and (3) seed funding. Team, as anyone in startup-land knows, is by far the most important ingredient, as the others ultimately follow from it.

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Pay-walled Research Papers Do Not Constitute Published Work

I just had another discussion with a reviewer (by way of an editor) who insisted that I cite (presumably their) work buried behind an Elsevier paywall. How obnoxious can you be?

It is 2019 and there are still editors and reviewers who consider articles, which are not freely accessible on the web, published research? That’s so wrong. Such work has been buried behind a paywall. It yet needs to be published.

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How Software Engineering Teaching and the Legal Department Collide

Any non-trivial university has a legal department, often several (at least one for matters of teaching and one for matters of fundraising). The legal department concerned with teaching has to protect the university from lawsuits by students. By extension, this department protects students from professors who ask too much of them. Often, there may be good reasons for this. Sometimes it gets in the way of effective teaching.

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ACM Hypertext 2019 in Hof, Germany

The ACM Hypertext 2019 conference will take place in Hof, Germany, on September 17-20, 2019. Here is the conference’s scope in its own words:

The ACM Hypertext conference is a premium venue for high quality peer-reviewed research on hypertext theory, systems and applications. It is concerned with all aspects of modern hypertext research including social media, semantic web, dynamic and computed hypertext and hypermedia as well as narrative systems and applications.

Regular paper submissions are due April 14th, 2019. Please submit plenty.

What Software Vendors Don’t Seem to Understand About University Teaching

I often get approached by software vendors with the suggestion that I teach a course using one of their product tutorials. There are plenty of open source databases, operating systems, and cloud computing solutions who want to make it into my curriculum. Of course, vendors don’t always call their product tutorials by that name, but use labels like college-level courses or the like, but this doesn’t change the content: They are still product tutorials. I can’t teach those and no self-respecting professor will ever do this. Let me explain.

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The Uni1 Project (2016)

Abstract: The aim of this project outline is to describe how universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs) can work with businesses to conduct teaching projects for and with students. Both parties stand to benefit; the projects generate recruitment, outsourcing and innovation (ROI) for businesses and provide HEIs with new partners for cooperation, a source of funds, and a boost to the attractiveness of their teaching.

Keywords: Industry university collaboration, research-to-industry transfer, business model, teaching

Reference: Dirk Riehle. “The Uni1 Project (2016).” Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dept. of Computer Science, Technical Report, CS-2018-05. Erlangen, Germany, 2018.

The report is available as a local PDF file and on FAU’s OPUS server.

Please note that this report is a translation to English (by FAU’s Sprachendienst) of the prior report Das Uni1 Projektkonzept (2016).