Under the motto 'On campus and online - the best of both worlds', Ulm University is planning this winter semester 2020/21 in adaptation to the corona conditions. The second academic semester starts nationwide on 2 November 2020 and ends on 19 February 2021. What the study and teaching modalities will look like in the winter semester will be based largely on the development of infection rates. Ulm University puts highest priority on ensuring both the delivery of high-quality education as well as the protection of people's health.
As applications are currently open for most study programmes at Ulm University, the University wants to give its future and current students planning certainty as early as possible. It is, however, important to prepare for a variety of scenarios that the corona pandemic might present – from on-campus teaching in seminar rooms and laboratories to another emergency roll-out with a predominantly digital form of teaching should infection rates rise again. The most likely model at this point is a 'mosaic semester' with a mix of on-campus and online courses. 'In the winter semester, we want to combine the best of both worlds: especially courses with practical elements and those that are very interactive will be held on campus as much as possible. Other formats such as lectures with a large number of participants can often be held online quite well. Particularly for our first-semester students we aim to offer the best possible study conditions with as many on-campus elements as possible,' explains Professor Olga Pollatos, Vice President for Education at Ulm University.
The planning for the winter semester benefits from the lessons learned during the largely digital summer semester in 2020: on 20 April, study and teaching activities started purely online, while the second half of the semester allowed for some of the The planning for the winter semester benefits from the lessons learned during the largely digital summer semester in 2020: on 20 April, study and teaching activities started purely online, while the second half of the semester allowed for some of the practical course elements and exams to be held on campus.
Similar principles apply to the coming semester: physical presence on campus is necessary to deliver practical course elements that require, for example, a laboratory workstation or patient contact in a meaningful way. The personal exchange that happens in seminars, tutorials and colloquia is often crucial for a successful learning process – this is especially true for first-semester students and those who are about to graduate.
Preparations at Ulm University have long begun: suitable rooms must be found and a hygiene concept drawn up for all courses and exams that are to be held on campus in the winter semester. The University also intends to keep students from different study programmes separate as much as possible. Contact data of all participants of each on-campus event will be collected for the possible tracing of infection chains. To be able to react to potential setbacks in the containment of the coronavirus pandemic, online versions will be prepared where possible as backup for courses that are planned to be held on campus.
During the predominantly digital summer semester, many students have had positive experiences with online formats. They particularly appreciate the flexibility of digital learning in terms of time and place. On the other hand, many students and teachers miss the personal exchange and contact. For this reason, the University intends to offer significantly more courses on campus in the winter semester.
Before the beginning of the summer semester, the Communication and Information Centre (kiz) of Ulm University had massively expanded the infrastructure for online teaching. The Centre for Teaching Development (ZLE) has been supporting university teachers in the preparation of digital courses. New online formats that proved successful in the summer semester and were rated positively by the students will be continued and further developed in the winter semester.
Text and Media contact: Annika Bingmann