Online teaching, services for students, the application phase for Intake 2020 - Prof. Thomas Strothotte talks about the measures that have been taken in response to the corona pandemic and looks ahead.
The corona crisis has shaken the daily lifes of people around the world, with tremendous consequences. How is the mood at KLU right now?
Thomas Strothotte: The mood at KLU, I think, is pretty good. Our work is being done. Students reported in a recent representatives meeting that things are going well. We also had a positive feedback from our faculty and staff. So I think we're coping well and we're making the best of the situation that we have.
At the end of February, the first case of corona was reported in Hamburg. Shortly afterwards, on March 16 KLU switched to online teaching. How did you organize that fast transition?
Thomas Strothotte: We had an internal meeting on March 11, a Wednesday, and the next Monday, all teaching was done via Zoom. This was a transition basically over the weekend, but it worked very well because we have been working for almost two years now on getting our online learning up and running. So we basically had everything we needed. It was a matter of rolling it out to everybody which we managed very quickly.
Is the online teaching working? How are students responding to this new approach?
Thomas Strothotte: Online teaching today is working very well and the response of the students is positive. Our faculty is coming up with new ideas like coffee sessions in addition to the teaching and is creating a kind of family atmosphere. Students can meet in virtual breakout rooms, too. It is important to find ways to exchange ideas informally which is what you normally do when you meet in the hallway or in the cafeteria.
The learning atmosphere is positive. Everyone is where they feel safest. Many of our international students have traveled back home, e.g. to Egypt or Brazil. In our TriCon program (Master in Global Supply Chain Management degree program), one third of the students went back home to China, another to the Americas and one third is somewhere here in Germany or Europe.
Online teaching for our international student body is a challenge because of the time zones. Shanghai and Tennessee are as far apart as you can get. But there, too, we're finding solutions to work around this. I can really say that online teaching and online learning has been a success. We do not want to become an online university, a place that just does its teaching online, but certainly for this special situation I think it's a good solution.
How long will KLU continue to teach online?
Thomas Strothotte: We will continue the online teaching until the end of our classes for this quarter. That means up to about the first week in May. After that, we have no more regular classes. As far as the fall is concerned, we will play it by ear. And we will see that we continue this as needed.
Where do we go from here in the fall semester? What can you tell future students who want to apply now?
Thomas Strothotte: All students will be able to start their studies in the fall, may it be one way or another. That means if they are unable to come to KLU for whatever reason – be it, because they cannot leave the country that they're in, they cannot enter Germany, have problems to get a visa because the German consulate is closed in their home country, or themselves or someone in their family is sick – they can join us online. And for those who can come, we will have our lectures and exercises locally in our building.
As soon as things loosen up and the travel restrictions are gone, then of course we expect everyone to be coming to KLU to do the learning here. But in the meantime, we will find solutions for whatever problems come up. For example, should there be a second wave somewhere we will handle that situation as needed, e.g. by going online again.
The KLU will turn 10 years old this fall. Will you celebrate this milestone?
Thomas Strothotte: We were actually planning to celebrate this in November of this year with a large gathering. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen. But that will not stop us from being in a good mood, from being thankful for all the support we have gotten over the years and from celebrating this in an appropriate manner. These are things we still have to decide.
Traditionally, logistics hasn’t received much public attention. Now, supply chains have become a hot topic. What will this mean for KLU?
Thomas Strothotte: KLU's research is actually very relevant to the issues which are relevant now in the times of coronavirus. There's a number of topics, where expertise is needed, in particular when an industry deals with the situation and gets back up and running again either bit by bit, or all at once. Whatever is going to happen that's exactly when science is important because that's when researchers can weigh in, provide thoughts and solutions for these very unexpected situations which we're in. We have had a Q&A session recently for anybody out there who has questions related to home office, isolation, all the way to supply chains. We had close to 200 people from out there joining us. I'm very happy with the response. We're actually planning to continue this and do it again in the next few days. I think we're actually able to contribute to society in a way which we had not expected.
- All KLU information relating to the corona crisis can be found here: www.the-klu.org/corona - a collection of news, online events, analyses & comments, and expert contacts.