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Teaching and learning at the ZHAW before and after COVID-19

In 2021, the ZHAW carried out an assessment of the digital transformation in its academic programmes. This gave rise to recommendations for action in various areas.

The objective of the assessment was to collect and interpret the drastic experiences encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to shaping the near and distant future. With this goal in mind, the Executive Board tasked experts from Higher Education Development with collecting, consolidating and interpreting experiences and knowledge gained by the Schools in the areas of academic programmes and continuing education. In particular, this work involved evaluating surveys conducted at a School and ZHAW level and holding discussions with various stakeholders. The report’s authors developed recommendations for action within the four thematic areas of “leadership and skills”, “offers”, “support” and “infrastructure” for the period after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Face-to-face university with a future

The recommendations for action aim to ensure that, while the ZHAW remains an on-site university in the future, it also integrates online teaching and learning in such a way that they generate added value compared to classroom teaching. By combining both teaching and learning forms in an appropriate manner, it will be possible to promote important skills and, in an ideal scenario, free up resources that can in turn be reinvested in didactic settings. The impact and effectiveness of digital media does not lie in the technology itself, but rather in the social use of this media in the form of didactic concepts. This process should result in a “blended university”, which understands online and on-site settings as one.

Finding a balance between on-site and online teaching

The recommendations for action proposed in the report vindicate the objectives pursued by the ZHAW and the measures that have already been taken. These are defined in the university's strategic bases, including, in particular, its “Education and digital transformation” and “Lifelong-learning-strategies". The recommendations for action serve as the basis for discussion and a source of inspiration for upcoming considerations and developments in the Schools as well as for other projects and programmes that are part of the ZHAW Digital strategic initiative. The Schools are currently in the process of determining and implementing the right balance between on-site and online teaching for their degree programmes and continuing education courses as well as reviewing and adjusting the general conditions required to this end.