Physics in the web: applications and e-Learning

At the science campus riedberg of Goethe University, there a history of student participation in terms of of independent content production, outreach projects and experimental teaching habits. These terms are an approach to describe the work of studental projects I have worked in since 2009.


My story starts with BioKemika. This was a life sciences project at the faculty of chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacy. During the project lifetime of BioKemika, we developed a student-focused search engine to learn handling the enormous amount of very specialized databases used in the everyday work of a life science researcher at the interface between biology, chemistry and quantum physics.

The heritage of BioKemika is conserved by PhysikOnline vintage and the student body of biochemistry and the website is accessible at


In 2011 I joined the eLearning division in the faculty of Physics at Goethe University. At this time, there were the learning managament software installation ILIAS as well as the video project Podcast-Wiki Physik. The unique property of these projects where the student driven character without intervention of faculty staff but still supported by (applied year by year) a number of scientific assistant salaries every year.

The video project Podcast-Wiki Physik is one of a kind: Students explain topics in physics to other students in a cross-linked and multimedial website in forms of videos. The video-focussed e-Learning project won the award for excellent teaching of the state of Hesse.

During my time at PhysikOnline, we constantly included new projects in our portfolio. In 2012, it was the computing platform POKAL. POKAL is an open-source project based on the computer algebra system SAGE. We got two year funds from the University to develop this software with four student programmers as well as an external freelancing agency. We extended the SAGE web interface with real-time collaboration and a chat in order to turn the highly specialized math software into an easily usable e-Learning application for students in the Rhein-Main region.

Other projects from PhysikOnline imply the operation of several smaller services. Today, PhysikOnline runs their own hardware within a great support of the Center for Scientific Computing. This gives the studental project an enormous flexibility to try out new ideas on a broad scale.

The computing power is one fundament which allowed PhysikOnline to extend beyond the limits of Physics. In 2014 we extended the video project Podcast-Wiki Physik to all scientific faculties of Goethe University, namely mathematics, computer science, geology, meterology, biology, chemistry, pharmacy, medicine and neuro science. This new video project is called RiedbergTV after the campus name Campus Riedberg where most of the mentioned faculties have their buildings and teaching takes place.


RiedbergTV quickly grew beyond the limits of employment positions we could afford. Instead, the group is composed by a multitude of employment forms: There are voluntary working students, students with (limited) contracts as well as scholarship holders from the national Deutschlandstipendium.


Ressources for English speaking people:

Introductory references

  • The POTT Team Tracker is a valuable ressource with thousands of documents holding the history of the projects over the years.
  • The PhysikOnline Portal provides an in-detail description of all projects. It also lists most of the relevant online platforms for students in physics.
  • The SeLF funds of Goethe university supported a number of our projects.

These sites contain hundreds of further links. Bear in mind that most pages are in German.