In 1998, a group of German psychologists initiated the "Virtuelles Graduiertenkolleg" (VGK) as the first virtual Ph.D. program in Germany. The program is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and started its work in April 1999. 

In contrast to other Ph.D. programs of the DFG, the VGK is not localized at one specific place, but spread over several research institutions in three German cities:

  • Psychological Institute (Prof. Dr. H. Spada), University of Freiburg
  • Center for Cognitive Science (Prof. Dr. G. Strube), University of Freiburg
  • Department of Educational Psychology (Prof. Dr. A. Renkl), University of Freiburg
  • Institute of Educational Science I (Prof. Dr. R. Plötzner), University of Education in Freiburg
  • Psychological Institute III (Prof. Dr. R. Bromme), University of Münster
  • Knowledge Media Research Center (Prof. Dr. F. W. Hesse, Prof. Dr. F. Fischer, Prof. Dr. P. Gerjets), Tübingen
  • Psychological Institute (Prof. Dr. M. Diehl), University of Tübingen
Instead of being supported by their local professors and colleagues only, this setting enables students to collaborate with colleagues of other workgroups at the various locations in order to share their research ideas and to integrate their results within a wider research community.

The general topic of the VGK "Knowledge Acquisition and Knowledge Exchange with New Media" addresses one of the most important research questions of the developing "global information society" from a psychological point of view. How can virtual groups be supported efficiently in teaching and learning with new media without getting lost in the "virtual space"? The work of the VGK reflects this topic in a twofold way: On the one hand, the VGK students' own knowledge exchange is organized by using new media. For example, the students collaborate in online workgroups and special online courses by means of  teleconferencing tools, WWW, chat or email. On the other hand, the possibilities and limits of using new media for teaching and learning are themselves focused in all VGK research projects. 

VGK students are encouraged to present their work at national and international conferences and to establish collaborations with Ph.D. students from research institutions in other countries. An institutional framework is build up with groups in the UK and in the USA working on similar topics.

Last updated 30 Jun 2005
VGK Team Münster Team Tübingen Team Freiburg