#onlineUBT: University of Bayreuth expands digital teaching with offerings on the international course platform edX
University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 043/2020, 24 March 2020
After TU Munich and RWTH Aachen, the University of Bayreuth is now the third university in Germany to become a member of edX, an educational platform of the best universities worldwide with around 20 million users. This will significantly expand the e-learning offering at the University of Bayreuth in the medium term. Especially in view of the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming start of the semester, this is of great importance for the approximately 13,500 students at the University of Bayreuth.
University of Bayreuth expands digital teaching with offerings on the international course platform edX © iStock
The learning platform edX (https://www.edx.org/) aims to make education independent of time, place, and budget: edX was founded by Harvard University and MIT as a non-profit organization to transform traditional education into digital form. This makes it possible to attend courses worldwide, and acquire academic achievements without being personally present and without having to pay the sometimes very high tuition fees of international universities. According to their own information, 20 million students take part in edX courses, which are offered as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on edX by top international universities. "We are raising the profile of our research excellence in combination with innovative teaching worldwide, so that ambitious students from countries all over the world will become aware of us", University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible describes the new cooperation. The first courses are currently being created and will appear on the platform in autumn. Under the hashtag #onlineUBT, the University of Bayreuth will report on progress in this cooperation on social media.
The start of the edX cooperation coincides with the current intensive expansion of digital teaching formats at the University of Bayreuth. Due to the cancellation of classroom teaching on campus as a result of the corona pandemic, this matter is currently of high priority. "In preparation for the 2020 summer semester, our efforts are aimed at creating a scientifically high-quality program for enrolled students and especially for our freshmen", says University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible. At the moment, the ministerial order to discontinue teaching until 19 April 2020 is in effect, but it is not possible to say when the lecture period in attendance form will be able to begin regularly. Leible explains: "As a precaution, we are preparing for a bridging phase of unknown duration, in which we will have to replace classroom teaching with digital offerings.“
"Of course, we are aware that not every student is technically equipped in the same way," says the Vice President for Digitization & Innovation, Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann. "For this reason, instructors are busy creating efficient forms of teaching that integrate short videos, worksheets, supervised forums, or chats for each course". The e-learning platform of the University of Bayreuth (https://elearning.uni-bayreuth.de/) is the central contact point for all digital activities. Almost 1,000 lecturers at the University of Bayreuth are already working with this platform, which enables the exchange of information and materials between lecturers and students, independent of time and place. In addition, the University has numerous software licenses that facilitate video or audio conferences, chats, forums, document exchange, and the like. The University even has its own video studio.
Prof. Dr. Martin Huber, Vice President for Teaching & Learning, emphasizes: "In terms of content and didactics, there will not be one all-inclusive solution for all learning content. We will take this into account." Lecturers at the University of Bavaria are supported by FBZHL - Fortbildungszentrum Hochschullehre, which has been promoting the digitalization of teaching for years (www.fbzhl.uni-bayreuth.de). Huber points out that the University of Bayreuth already has existing online offerings and that learning units from other universities can be integrated into their own teaching. "Not only at our university, but throughout Bavaria, considerations are currently being weighed on transforming classroom teaching into other forms, so it would make sense to work together with other colleagues on a solution for digital teaching," says Huber. The Bavarian universities already have considerable experience in this area in the Virtual University of Bavaria (vhb), a Bavaria-wide platform for online teaching (https://www.vhb.org/). There are already over 500 courses to take there. The offering is currently being expanded significantly.
The digital processing of examinations is still open. The University Governing Board, representatives of the examination boards and the Ministry are currently investigating what substitutes can be offered for examinations that usually require physical presence.
Prof. Dr. Martin Huber
Vice President for Teaching & Learning
University of Bayreuth
Chair of Modern German Literature
Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann
Vice President for Digitalization & Innovation
University of Bayreuth
Chair of Information Systems Management
Press & PR Manager
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
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