“The focus on digitalization should not distract from the fact that good teaching goes far beyond this topic.”
Good teaching continues to develop - even after the return to the lecture halls. The 19,297 students at the University of Bern continue to benefit from the experience gained from remote teaching. The University reflects on its innovation through research and has gained international recognition for its pioneering role.
By Prof. Dr. Fritz Sager, Vice-Rector for Teaching
19,297 students were registered at the University of Bern in the 2022 fall semester. Of these, 8,056 were enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program, 4,610 in a master’s degree program, 3,371 were doctoral students and 1,880 participated in a continuing education program at master’s level (MAS). Additionally, 1,196 students were in a continuing education program at certificate and diploma levels (CAS and DAS) and 184 students in an individual continuing education program (for example, as a lawyer, notary or priest).
2022 saw teaching permanently return to the lecture halls, and with it the students and a return to university life. However, the experience gained from remote teaching were not forgotten. The University of Bern used this opportunity and made some huge steps forward in the promotion of good teaching in 2022. This was kicked off by the tenth annual Day of Teaching in February, which was dedicated to the topic “Bringing Life to Digital Teaching – Best of Both Worlds”. With more than 260 participants from across all German-speaking countries, this fully booked event took place exclusively online and was a major success.
Podcasts are one element of remote teaching that has been adopted for in-person teaching, among others. Following a University-wide consultation, the University Executive Board reacted to a request made by the Student Union of the University of Bern (SUB) and issued a recommendation to provide podcasts or similar resources for all non-interactive courses. The recommendation was hotly debated, which prompted the Vice-Rectorate Teaching to examine the impact of podcasts on teaching in more detail.
The pioneering role of the University of Bern in the field of sustainable teaching was reflected by a wide range of international recognition. Firstly, the University was presented with the MEDEA Award 2022 for its flashMOOC entitled “Democracy vs. Sustainability”. Furthermore, a delegation at The Guild made a presentation on teaching at the University of Bern and the two projects “eCoaches” and “Skills for a (Digital) Future”. This was met with great interest by European partner universities who are strong in research, and will lead to further exchanges in the future.
The University of Bern is reflecting on its new teaching innovations and researching the experiences gained as a result. 2022 saw the start of two extensive research projects promoted as part of BeLEARN – the joint center of excellence for digitalization in education of Bern’s three universities in collaboration with ETH Lausanne and the Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training. These projects are “Learning Analytics & Adaptive Learning” and “Digitalization in Swiss Schools and its Impact on Educational Pathways: Scope, Opportunities and Risks”. Thanks to a second call in February 2022, the University launched five further projects, with topics ranging from “Promoting Resilience of Primary Level Teachers” to “Virtual Reality Learning” and “Intelligent Tutor Systems for Pre-University Mathematics”.
The focus on digitalization should not distract from the fact that good teaching goes far beyond this topic and affects the daily business of academic education in all its forms.
The promotion of good teaching is also not an exclusively virtual undertaking. The successful “Tips and Tools for Good Teaching” course took place in English for the first time in the fall semester and was very well received by international lecturers, so much so that it will be offered alternately in German and English from now on. The Promotion of Innovative Teaching (FIL) program was also developed further, and has now been upgraded to faculty level in order to push forward with the dissemination of proven new teaching methods. The starting point here was the FILFLE symposium, which focused on the development of teaching on a faculty level.
A teaching university like the University of Bern is founded on a dedicated network that is open to innovation and brings them to life through its hard work. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those involved, the students, lecturers and – above all – the staff.