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“Being online is different,” reported Professor Dr. Christian Barrot, Dean of Programs. Along with Maria Kern and her department, Program Services, he has been responsible for moving KLU online. As of Monday, March 16, 2020, all courses at KLU are only being taught online. Unlike the majority of public universities in Germany, KLU is currently not on break and has therefore had to undergo this transition mid-semester.
In spite of a solid preexisting infrastructure, this has proved challenging. “Initially we had a few courses here and there available virtually, but now literally everything has been moved online. We only had a weekend worth’s head start to get things up and running, but so far everything’s working well,” confirmed Maria Kern. The initiative and flexibility regarding the new format from KLU’s teaching staff has been very helpful in this initial stage. “Thanks to the support from the Kühne Foundation, we were able to begin the process of building an online infrastructure for e-learning two years ago,” reported University President Professor Dr. Thomas Strothotte. Christian Barrot added, “our professors have been breathing life into the infrastructure.”
Online Formats Incentive for Participation
One of the courses is taught by Dr. Prisca Brosi, Professor for Human Resource Management. She has been teaching her courses for bachelor’s and master’s students online since last week. Students can ask their questions anytime using either the chat or video functions. “It was a huge relief for students to know that they’d be able to continue attending classes. They’re extremely motivated and have really been paying attention, particularly when I make use of interactive elements,” reported Dr. Brosi. Some examples of these elements are tools students can use to answer questions online or that present their results immediately in a visual display.
“It goes without saying that the technology doesn’t always cooperate when you want it to, but the students and I keep a sense of humor about it,” she commented. The technology also allows for students to break off into virtual work rooms for group projects. “It actually works really well integrating the materials using different formats such as presentations and videos. It’s just important to have a well-structured lesson plan and to state the tasks clearly, otherwise it can lead to confusion, particularly if the students have broken out into different virtual work rooms,” she added. “Since we can’t meet in person at the moment, it has become extremely important for us to be able to stay connected in this way.”
International Campus – Transcending Time Zones
This has presented KLU with a particular challenge. Around half of KLU’s student body comes from abroad. Currently many students have returned to their home countries due to the Coronavirus situation in Germany. “At the moment, we have dozens of students in time zones ranging from the west coast of the United States to China,” stated Maria Kern. In order for these students to participate as well, classes are being recording. So far feedback has been positive. “Obviously, we’re all looking forward to the day when we can all sit on the banks of the Elbe in front of the KLU building with a cool beverage,” affirmed Dr. Barrot.
Starting Monday, March 23, the campus will initially be closed for one week and will not be accessible to the public. Apart from a few exceptions, all KLU employees and members are currently working from home. For the time being, this also means that doctoral dissertations are being defended online. In addition, measures are being taken to ensure that all tests be made available online during the next testing period or that they be replaced with other formats.
“The physical well-being and the success of our courses as well as the research led by our students, staff and guests are our top priority,” ensured Professor Strothotte. “The effects of the Coronavirus present a major challenge for us as a university as well. I am confident that we will be able to take on new, innovative methods in our daily routines at work and at university. KLU’s research in logistics and supply chains and an intercultural spirit of solidarity within the field of business can provide these matters with fresh impetus both during and after the crisis.”