When a discussion leads to developing a software
Artificial intelligence that takes care of programming and a book that explores the impact of digitalisation on academic writing. Thanks to the DIZH Fellowships, innovative projects emerge at the ZHAW.
The DIZH is the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions. It aims to foster the cooperation among the universities in the Canton of Zurich, thereby strengthening Zurich as a location for research and industry. For this purpose, the ZHAW awards the so-called DIZH fellowships. Highly qualified ZHAW researchers receive funding and can explore a topic in depth. Until now, 27 fellowships were awarded to people who work on projects in the area of digitalisation. One of them is Christian Rapp from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning who explores digital tools in academic writing.
"There are many digital tools to learn and practice writing and to evaluate it. They shoot up like mushrooms, but often they just as quickly disappear.”
Christian Rapp, Head Team Educational Technology
Christian, what exactly do you want to study in your fellowship?
My fellowship has two goals. On the one hand, I want to write a book together with international colleagues that deals with digital tools and their impact on academic writing. There are many digital tools to learn and practice writing and to evaluate it. They shoot up like mushrooms, but often they just as quickly disappear. Together with the colleagues, I want to find out what impact the digital tools can have on academic writing and what that means theoretically. We have leading experts from North America, Australia and Europe on board and that lets us hope that we’ll contribute with a work of reference.
On the other hand, I want to take a look at our ZHAW tool Thesis Writer. It helps students to write academic papers. For many this is something entirely new and difficult to learn. I want to find out what impact the digital tool Thesis Writer has on the relationship between students and supervisors.
How does the fellowship help with that?
I received funding to concentrate fully on the research. I think that’s great because it’s not often that you get this kind of opportunity. It tends to be more difficult for staff of universities of applied sciences to acquire personal funding for research-oriented projects for example from the EU or SNF. The effort to fill out the DIZH fellowship application was relatively low compared to applications such as the ones that the SNF asks for.
Apply for a fellowship
Until 11 June, ZHAW researchers can apply for personal funding in the third DIZH fellowship call.
Here you can find more information as well as the application form(PDF 233,5 KB)
"Thanks to the fellowship I could follow an ambitious research idea with funding secured."
Marcela Ruiz, Deputy Head of Research/Focus Area ad int., Software Systems
Marcela, what exactly did you study in your fellowship?
We wanted to prove that an artificial intelligence can develop software based solely on a conversation. Simply put, it works like that: One focus group talks about a software, such as a web shop, during a meeting. The participants of the group don’t have any programming skills and simply discuss which requirements the shop should meet. Based on the transcript of the discussion, a software is being developed. That way software analysts can save a lot of time, because they don’t have to first code the required specifications manually.
How does the fellowship help with that?
Thanks to the fellowship I could follow an ambitious research idea with funding secured. I could work on it for six months and widen my network at the same time. Of course, it was more difficult to network due to Corona. But we had one or the other virtual exchanges to discuss the results of the project and to work on the further development. I could also spark interest in young researchers and students to work on automated software creation. The results of the fellowship ensure that further projects and research ideas are promoted.