New skills, new technologies and new tools for choosing a study program: The University of Bern wants to put its students in the best possible position to get their futures off to a good start.
By Prof. Dr. Bruno Moretti, Vice-Rector for Teaching
In just five years, the total number of students attending the University of Bern has risen from 17,000 to more than 18,500. While growth in the number of bachelor and master students was minor at +1 percent, the number of doctoral students shot up by +23 percent. This is particularly gratifying since it shows that the University of Bern is extremely attractive to early career academics. The University of Bern is receiving similarly positive signals with regard to its range of continuing education courses, which increased by 18 percent.
First of all, one issue needs to be clarified when it comes to digitalization: The University of Bern has long been examining the best possible combinations of face-to-face teaching and self-study for the continuous improvement of teaching (this experience was also very useful during the current Corona crisis, when all teaching was completely switched to online operation within three days).
The digitalization strategy adopted in 2019 features two dominant areas with regard to teaching: students’ skills (“digital literacy in teaching”) and use of the new capabilities in the classroom (“digital transformation of studies”).
With respect to the first of those two areas, the faculties work together with the Vice-Rectorate Teaching to determine which new expert and basic skills will be relevant for their own students in the future and how they can be integrated into the study programs. As an additional course for students of all disciplines, a general introduction to programming will be offered from the 2020 spring semester onward.
The digital transformation of university studies has been a major issue for some time now and the University of Bern already launched several different projects aimed at promoting innovative teaching practices several years ago.
2019 also marked the online activation of the first flashMOOCs (www.flashmoocs.unibe.ch). This name stands for concise, quick and “in a flash” explanatory videos. Just like traditional Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), they are made available to the general public. Unlike traditional MOOCs, however, which cover an entire one-semester course, flashMOOCs are quite a bit shorter and come in at a running time of 15–25 minutes.
"The University of Bern has long been examining the best possible combinations of face-to-face teaching and self-study for the continuous improvement of teaching."
Prof. Dr. Bruno Moretti, Vice-Rector for Teaching
The eCoach concept was also developed to help lecturers use digital technologies. Within the scope of this project, selected students from each and every faculty are trained on how to make meaningful use of digital technologies. Starting in the summer of 2020, eCoaches will work together with lecturers to provide targeted support on how to use the new possibilities opened up by digital technologies to enrich and optimize their courses.
The Psychology department introduced an online self-assessment to help students make more conscious decisions when choosing their study program and also in an effort to reduce the drop-out rate. An expansion to incorporate other disciplines is planned.
It would be wonderful if our students could look back in a few years and say that their future truly began at the University of Bern.