Connecting Experts and Services (ConnEx)

Catalyst for the initiative Lower Saxony

The project Connecting Experts and Services (ConnEx) brings together for the first time all state universities in Lower Saxony in a collaborative project in the field of digital teaching and learning. ConnEx addresses two strategically relevant groups of actors: the teachers and the didactic service and support facilities at the universities in Lower Saxony. It aims to promote close cooperation, networking and transfer within these groups.

ConnEx – a joint project with 19 partners in Lower Saxony

Map of Lower Saxony with project network ©HDN

Applicant university: Leuphana University Lüneburg

Collaborative partners (alphabetical):

Braunschweig: Braunschweig University of Art (HBK),Technische Universität Braunschweig (TUB), Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences
Clausthal: Clausthal University of Technology (TU Clausthal)
Emden Leer: University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer
Göttingen: University of Göttingen
Hannover: Hochschule Hannover – University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HsH), Leibniz University Hannover, MHH – Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, HMTMH – Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover
Hildesheim: HAWK University of applied sciences and art Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen, University of Hildesheim Foundation
Oldenburg: Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, ELAN e.V.
Osnabrück: Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Osnabrück University
Vechta: University of Vechta
Wilhelmshaven: Jade University of Applied Sciences

With its focus on cross-university networking, ConnEx is a key milestone and catalyst for state-wide cooperation, embedded in the initiative Niedersachsen.This joint initiative of the Landeshochschulkonferenz Niedersachsen, the MWK and the Volkswagen Foundation is an alliance of Lower Saxony’s higher education institutions that aims to establish sustainable cooperation activities in the field of digitalization. The area of teaching and learning is the starting point, which will be followed by further joint activities in the area of research and university administration. The development of the initiative is initially supported financially by state funds and funds from the Volkswagen Foundation totaling 21.75 million euros.

The starting point for ConnEx was formed by existing networks, initiatives and projects on digital teaching and learning – in particular the three major collaborative projects CO3LEARN, Future Skills.Applied (Futur.A) and Souver@nes digitales Lehren und Lernen in Niedersachsen (SOUVER@N). which are funded by the Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre. Leuphana is involved in SOUVER@N in a leading role.

  • 1. Expertise map
  • 2. Establishment of a university network for digital teaching in Lower Saxony
  • 3. Material exchange and collection of good practice examples
  • 4. Communities of Practice
  • 5. Networking activities among student assistants
  • HumHub in the Academic Cloud

1. Expertise map

At the universities in Lower Saxony, there is a wide-ranging expertise in digital teaching and learning among the teachers as well as among the service and support institutions of the universities, whereby at the same time a high degree of diversification can be noted. In the course of the project, a mapping of the service and support institutions for digital teaching in Lower Saxony, their structural integration, their tasks, expertise and main areas of work (technical/didactic) as well as existing networks and main areas of work was created. This is the first time that these have been systematically recorded in an inventory in the area of digital teaching in Lower Saxony and prepared in the form of profiles. On this basis, an interactive expert map has been developed as a visualisation, which will be made publicly available digitally in order to make the expertise visible and to facilitate establishing contacts and networking.

2. Establishment of a university network for digital teaching in Lower Saxony

The second focus of the project aimed in particular at conceptual preliminary work for a state-wide network of service facilities for digital teaching and at addressing critical conditions for the success of such a network. This preliminary work included research and analysis of existing networks in the federal states in the area of teaching support. On this basis, in addition to profiles of existing networks, conditions for success and recommendations for a Lower Saxony network of digital teaching were developed in the project, particularly at the state level. Behind this is the overarching goal of continuing to increase the quantity and quality of the services offered by the institutions for all higher education institutions in the future by joining forces and mutually benefiting from each other in exchange and transfer. This offers the opportunity to connect them permanently and sustainably in the field of digital teaching and to jointly initiate further successful projects in the field of digital teaching in the future.

3. Material exchange and collection of good practice examples

The third focus of ConnEx was to provide a thematically sorted and systematised collection of materials from the support and further education sector for digital teaching (e.g. instructions for tools and platforms or for media didactic concepts) and examples of good practice from all locations. The project has produced an overview of freely accessible materials in the area of digitally supported teaching at all universities in Lower Saxony. In addition, a state-wide survey of corresponding materials and examples of good practice was conducted and evaluated. It is also planned to publish the collections on a suitable platform.

4. Communities of Practice

Another focus was on the conception and realisation of networking and exchange activities among teachers in Communities of Practice (CoPs) on media didactic topics of digitally oriented teaching. The communities of practice aim at networking and the collegial exchange of knowledge and good practices. They are characterised by flat hierarchies and should function as self-organised as possible. In the project, various event formats for or to build up CoPs have been designed and tested. Innovations in teaching require courage and always entail the risk of failure at the beginning. These moments of failure in teaching and the associated error culture in universities are a central theme of the formats. In addition, a self-directed learning circle (“Failing Out LOUD”; based on the concepts of “Working Out Loud” or “Learning Out Loud”) has been developed, which will be offered in the social network HumHub in the future.

5. Networking activities among student assistants

On the initiative of and under the supervision of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, student assistants from nine of the universities and colleges in Lower Saxony participating in ConnEx have networked with each other. In regular meetings, the students have collected and discussed examples of good practice in digital teaching at their respective home universities. In addition to the exchange of teaching concepts and good practice examples across university boundaries, the networking meetings focused on questions such as “How and where do you want to learn?”, “What makes a ‘studentophile’ university?” or “What does the university of the future look like?”. At the same time, the student perspective on good teaching and digital learning was integrated into the overall project.


HumHub in the Academic Cloud

As all state universities in Lower Saxony are involved in ConnEx, it also served as a platform for identifying synergies and for joint initiatives of the three Lower Saxony collaborative projects CO3LEARN, Future Skills.Applied (Futur.A) und Souver@nes digitales Lehren und Lernen in Niedersachsen (SOUVER@N), which are currently funded by the Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre. For example, through the participation of all four projects and in cooperation with the GWDG, the social networking software HumHub is currently being made available statewide via the Academic Cloud in order to create further options for digital collaboration. Through this jointly implemented project, all of Lower Saxony’s universities are once again benefiting from the cooperation initiated in ConnEx.

Further links

ConnEx was acquired under the leadership of Leuphana University and is funded with almost 1 million euros by the MWK (duration: 01.01.2022-31.12.2023).

Logo Förderer ©Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur


Project leader

Dr. Julia Webersik
Universitätsallee 1, C7.410
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1827

Project coordinator

Annika Weinert-Brieger
Universitätsallee 1, C 10.307
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1788