Open up the Universities!
“Universities have to present their own opening concepts, independently and proactively. At the beginning of the crisis, universities proved they could cope with the demands of digital teaching very well […]. They must now show that they can independently shape the path towards a new combination of classroom and digital teaching. The future belongs to blended learning concepts, i.e. the intelligent mix of online offerings and on-site teaching. The Corona crisis could be an accelerator for this. If universities once again assume their pioneering role in this area, society as a whole will ultimately benefit”, envisions Gunther Friedl, Dean of the TUM School of Management, in a recent article published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
We are looking forward to seeing you back at the campus as soon as possible, which is why we are currently working on making our teaching spaces safe and suitable for the return to campus. The university is studying the possibilities of assessing and mitigating safety risks, taking into consideration the regulations determined by the authorities in Germany and Bavaria to ensure the safety of our students – our utmost priority. We are looking to continue the momentum of the new as we, once again, adapt to the changing circumstances. While we hope to hold in-person classes again soon, we are ready with a collection of innovative digital tools if the situation in autumn warrants their use.
Read the complete article by our Dean, Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl below.
Open up the Universities!
While opening concepts after the lockdown are discussed in almost all important societal areas, it is strangely quiet regarding universities and colleges. However, these institutions should be taking a pioneering and exemplary role in opening.
Right now, universities are at risk of falling victims to the Corona pandemic without society taking notice. In almost all other areas of society, opening concepts are intensively discussed and implemented, while it is strangely quiet around the universities. Opening concepts and schedules are being discussed for the economy, for schools, for sports, and for the arts and culture, but not for universities. While is commonly agreed that this road must be taken carefully and considerately, our social life must be revived. It is only at universities and colleges that such a discussion has yet to take place. It almost seems as if many institutions are slowly getting used to this new situation and gaining from some of its benefits.
However, universities should be at the forefront of a well-considered and thought-out opening strategy. Nowhere else is the same knowledge potential available and nowhere else can responsible teachers and students work together to test the functionality of opening mechanisms and directly observe their effects in order to draw scientifically sound conclusions. Another advantage: many members in academia are young, open-minded towards new technologies and apps, and used to a high dynamic of change which places them in a unique and ideal position to test new strategies.
Instead, we are pleased that the transition to online teaching has gone so smoothly. Debates are taking place about the legal requirements for online examinations and remote working is widely accepted as a permanent solution. If difficulties are discussed, then they are discussed in connection with home schooling and the corresponding concern of parents with small children. As important as the current push for innovation through online teaching and video conferencing is for the universities, it almost seems as if the universities no longer see themselves as a meeting place, as a physical marketplace for ideas, as a driving force for permanent networks.
Why is it that the universities are not assuming their societal pioneering role in this important process? Why do universities not boldly move forward with a reasonable balance between a considerate opening strategy and adherence to hygienic standards to reduce the risk of infection? In contrast to the USA, where students refuse to pay their tuition fees due to the fact, that their studies are now only conducted online, there seems to be almost no demand from students in Germany for a plan to return to on-site teaching. Although the University Rectors’ Conference praises the pragmatic implementation of online teaching, it is also surprisingly quiet regarding a return plan. This contrasts with many trade associations that have presented opening concepts for entire branches of industry. Even for open-air swimming pools there are now more detailed considerations than there are for universities.
What needs to be done? Universities have to present their own opening concepts, independently and proactively. At the beginning of the crisis, universities proved they could cope with the demands of digital teaching very well and much better than schools. They must now show that they can independently shape the path towards a new combination of classroom and digital teaching. The future belongs to blended learning concepts, i.e. the intelligent mix of online offerings and on-site teaching. The Corona crisis could be an accelerator for this. If universities once again assume their pioneering role in this area, society as a whole will ultimately benefit.
Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl is Dean of the TUM School of Management, Professor of Business Administration, and the Chair of Management Accounting.
Find the original article published on June 10 in “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” here.
Only recently, the FAZ published an article by Prof. Dr. Gunther Friedl, Dean of the TUM School of Management. Its title: Open up the universities! The issue has now been taken up in the BR’s political magazine “kontrovers”. The current episode addresses why it is rather quiet around the universities when it comes to opening concepts, and why potential concepts are discussed only very cautiously. Professors and students from different institutions share, how they have been dealing with the current situation. Above all, kontrovers addresses the current dissatisfaction and the desire to return to a new normal.
Watch the episode (in German) below or in the BR media library.
We are looking forward to seeing our students back at the campus as soon as possible, which is why we are currently working on making our teaching spaces safe and suitable for the return to campus. For the Winter Semester 2020/2021 we are planning to implement a blended learning concept. This will entail an intelligent mix of online offerings and on-site teachings for all study programs. Read more here.
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