The pandemic-related conversion of teaching to online operation in the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Building Physics and Economics
The question of how we can best cushion the current corona pandemic socially and economically by using state-of-the-art technologies is currently occupying the entire world. In recent weeks, the HFT Stuttgart has also been developing new solutions as quickly as possible, both in the area of teaching and in internal administration. Various players in the central areas and the faculties have been very active in developing new contactless processes and, building on the existing IT infrastructure, in making the changeover possible.
In the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Building Physics and Economics (Faculty B) with six Bachelor's and nine Master's degree courses, as well as in the entire university, considerations began with the announcement of the postponement of the attendance lectures as to how these four weeks until after Easter - but also the period after that - could be sensibly arranged. Regardless of which subject group - civil engineering, industrial engineering, infrastructure management, building physics, business administration or business psychology - all lecturers were and are faced with the challenge of re-preparing the content of their courses and converting them to an online concept under great time pressure.
Thoughts and suggestions were exchanged, many telephone calls and video conferences were held. Existing ideas regarding "inverted classrooms" are now being further developed. Various tools for video conferencing are being tried out and subjected to initial stress tests with small groups as well as large student groups. A simplified distinction is made between tools for synchronous real-time teaching (e.g. GoToMeeting, Zoom...) and tools for asynchronous teaching (e.g. Camtasia for recording and editing teaching videos). Creativity and strength of implementation are in demand, but also "shirt-sleeve" and pragmatism.
The feedback from students was very positive: They were pleased in the past weeks that they were closely informed and, with only one week delay to the originally planned start of lectures, have been offered extensive teaching and learning in digital form since 23.03.
While the higher semesters were able to cope quite quickly with the new teaching conditions, this is not so easy for the first semesters. They have never met the majority of their professors in face-to-face lectures - but the lecturers are highly motivated to compensate for this disadvantage. Fortunately, the majority of our freshmen were still able to go through the preparation week as a rule. Here - as every semester - the first contacts were made and WhatsApp groups were created - real friendships will probably only develop in longer, personal contact.
With regard to the conversion of courses to online operation, it can currently be stated for Faculty B that in the Bachelor's programmes in many departments about 75% can be taught online, in most Master's programmes the proportion is significantly higher. However, a smaller proportion remains in many degree programmes, which cannot be taught in online mode to the same extent or at all. This concerns, for example, modules with laboratory and field exercises.
But what can the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Building Physics and Economics learn from this crisis management? In the follow-up it will be a matter of evaluating the new solutions and the changes that have taken place in this digitalisation push. Many positive effects are certainly due to the cooperation of the teachers, the staff and our students, because they work together very well despite "physical distancing" and break new ground, perhaps even pointing the way.