e-genius.at: The Open Content knowledge and learning platform

The objective of the project was to develop online teaching materials on the topics energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy sources in collaboration with technical vocational schools and vocational higher secondary schools.

Short Description




Starting point / Motivation

Climate protection goals, rising prices for energy and resources due to increasing energy shortage, as well as modified legal frameworks, in particular the Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament on the energy performance of buildings bring about dynamic processes of rethinking within the building sector. These developments imply the urgency for education in relevant disciplines to integrate newest results from research and development into schooling and university courses without delay. At the same time, problem-oriented as well as independent and self-organized learning have to take on more important roles, not least in order to generate a basis for lifelong learning.

Contents and objectives

The project’s aim was to edit teaching materials on the topics energy-efficient building concepts and renewable energy in collaboration with technical vocational schools and vocational higher secondary schools, so that these contents can be integrated into scholastic and university education without long preparation time. Primary target groups are technical vocational schools. Further target groups are grammar schools (senior classes), universities of applied sciences and universities (entrance phases for master programmes).

In order to reach higher awareness and dissemination of the topics energy-efficiency and renewable energy, one central objective was to make all the contents available as Open Educational Resources (OER, Open Content). OER means that the materials are free and openly licensed. They can be edited and re-distributed within the same conditions (OER), but cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Educational objective was to generate teaching materials that encourage collaborative solving of complex problems, as it is necessary e.g. during planning of energy-efficient buildings. Furthermore, not only factual knowledge is conveyed, but a network of related aspects that initiate a process of awareness-raising on sustainable and resource-efficient thinking and acting.


The didactic approach primarily relies on ensuring easy accessibility of the teaching modules and highest possible flexibility in application. The teaching materials were developed based on learning targets at different levels, so that contents can easily be adapted to various needs of users of vocational schools (of different levels), and universities. Teaching units were designed in a way that technical texts are easily readable, key information is outlined in the format of info boxes, rough-and-ready rules or tips. Additionally, texts are made less monotonous by including comics, pictures, small video sequences, audio files, examples and other elements. Another important methodical approach was the cooperation with schools.


Since July 2012 the open content knowledge and learning platform e-genius is online as the first open-content online platform with free teaching and learning materials on the topics of energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy in German language, didactically edited for grammar schools (senior classes) as well as universities of applied sciences and universities (entrance phases for master programmes). Currently, the platform provides 24 basic learning modules to an extent of about 850 standard manuscript pages and more than 400 assignments on photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, wind power, thermal power stations, passive house buildings, plus energy buildings, plus energy settlements, innovative building concepts, highly efficient renovation, energy efficient building materials, insulation materials, façade systems and many more.

Technical texts are enriched by numerous practical examples, comics, pictures, small video sequences, audio files etc. and are easily readable. Info boxes, rough-and-ready rules and tips turned out to achieve learning targets in a sustainable way. Therewith complex topics can be imparted comprehensibly and with practical orientation. The materials are generally accessible, published under a CC licence (Creative Commons, BY-NC-SA), implemented on basis of open-software solutions and can be modified in the course of education. For every module, a script in different file formats (Word, PDF, Open Office) and a learning path with specific tasks were elaborated.

Project Partners

Project management

Dr. Katharina Zwiauer
GrAT - Center for Appropriate Technology, TU Wien

Project or cooperation partners

(in alphabetical order)

  • 17&4 Consulting Ltd., Johannes Fechner
  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
  • BIOENERGY 2020+ GmbH
  • Center for Teaching and Learning / CTL, University of Vienna
  • University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien
  • HTL Mödling
  • Schulze Darup & Partner, Dr. Burkhard Schulze Darup
  • TGM – Schule der Technik
  • via-media – Informationsdesign für digitale Medien

Contact Address

GrAT - Gruppe Angepasste Technologie
Dr. Katharina Zwiauer
Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10, A-1040 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 49523
Fax: +43 (1) 58801 49533
E-Mail: katharina.zwiauer@grat.at
Web: www.grat.at