Digital lecture halls

Exchange on the virtual campus: because of the Corona crisis, German universities are starting the summer semester with online courses.

Studying in times of Corona
Studying in times of Corona NDABCREATIVITY - stock.adobe.com

The Corona pandemic is changing everyday life at German universities, too. Because of the Corona crisis, the summer semester 2020 at German universities is starting exclusively with online lectures. In the space of a few weeks, universities throughout Germany have switched to a digital semester – successfully, as two examples show.

FU Berlin

At the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), almost 90 percent of the classes planned for the 2020 summer semester will be offered digitally. 85,000 people used the FU's central video conferencing system during the first four days of the semester. The university grounds might look deserted, but the FU's virtual campus is very busy.

TU Darmstadt

It's a tour de force and work in progress for the universities and colleges – also for the Technical University of Darmstadt in Hesse. “There are many different challenges; one important one is the technical aspect," says TU President Tanja Brühl. In addition, the students' and lecturers' need for orientation and support is enormous. Like many others, the TU Darmstadt has therefore set up an information portal for the digital summer semester. “This is a semester in which many things are new, and we are trying a lot of things out", says Tania Brühl, "but we also want to enable people to study as normally as possible."

Test run for innovative online formats

Everywhere, German universities are adjusting the capacity of their uni servers and working flat out on new didactic concepts and information platforms. The current exceptional situation is also a test run for many innovative digital teaching and learning formats that have been waiting to be used at German universities for some time. Since 2014, players from German universities, politics, business and society have been networking on the Higher Education Forum on Digitalization and have come up with lots of good ideas. The funding provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for this initiative organized by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany, the CHE Centre for Higher Education Development and the German University Conference (HRK) is now paying off.

In addition, various fast-track programmes are supporting the digital university launch, e.g. the ‘International Mobility and Cooperation Digital’ (IMKD) programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

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