EBSdigital: From campus life to online teaching
Kim Dillenberger and Prof. Dr. Matthias Waldkirch communicate online
Like many universities, EBS Universität has been faced with the question of how to sustain teaching in times of corona crisis. The decision was quickly made to go online, and this without exception. In a very short time EBS Universität has converted its classroom courses to online teaching. Just a few weeks ago, the students were meeting on campus, sitting without a care next to each other in the lecture room, discussing everyday matters and waiting until their professor turned on the projector. Meanwhile, the students are scattered around the globe - one perhaps in his former children’s room and another in the kitchen of her flat share. Nevertheless, all students have one thing in common: they dial into the video call, which is then opened by their professors, who organize the lectures from their offices. The question posed by a new research project at EBS Universität is what impact this change will have on teaching in general and on students and lecturers in particular.
In their research project, Kim Dillenberger and Prof. Matthias Waldkirch are giving academic advice and support to EBS Universität during this digital transformation process. The team is investigating how teaching in digital space is changing and how current experiences influence the concept of future teaching. Since day one of online teaching at EBS Universität over the course of the current semester, researchers have been gaining a holistic picture of teaching transformation at EBS Universität through ongoing interviews, focus groups, and participation in online lectures and meetings.
The initial results show that transforming the teaching process calls many of the teachers’, students’ and staff certainties into question. Here, the question of how teaching processes must be completely rethought online plays a particularly important role. “For many teachers, the changeover means redefining their teaching space, teaching format and teaching identity,” says Kim Dillenberger. Despite the physical distance, the teachers meet online several times a week, as Kim Dillenberger explains: “It is remarkable to see how the teachers are in lively exchange and how they share and develop practices among themselves. Current insights of the study show how old “givens” in teaching are questioned and newly resolved and how the role of technology is changing in this process. One topic that concerns many is, for example, the interaction between teachers and students in online teaching. Lectures at EBS Universität are based on interaction, but it is precisely this that is more difficult to implement online, according to current experience. “Both our students and the professors are in the process of finding out how a new teaching etiquette can be established,” reports Kim Dillenberger. Even simple questions such as “How do I maintain virtual eye contact” pose challenges for both teachers and students. At the same time, technology offers new forms of interaction, some of the favourites being short online polls, using virtual break-out rooms for group work and communicating via the chat function.
The aim of the study is to gain comprehensive insights into the transformation process of teaching that can also be transferred to other institutions and organisations. “We hope that our research can provide a better insight into how universities and other educational institutions can manage digital transformation,” explains Prof. Matthias Waldkirch.