From smart ideas to bold concepts

FUTURE UNIVERSITY – Breaking free of old thought patterns, fostering exchange and working together to shape the digital transformation.

Testo: Cornelia Puhze, pubblicato il 01.07.2019

Digitalisation is fundamentally changing our world and requires new concepts from all areas, not least from the Swiss university community. Where do new ideas come from and how can we successfully shape the digital transformation? How will knowledge be communicated successfully in the 21st century, and what are the skills that universities will need to equip students with? Guests and speakers discussed these and similar questions at the FUTURE UNIVERSITY Inspiration Event on 19 June 2019. In line with this year’s motto TRANS-FORM-AcTION, participants got to hear and discuss new ideas and sources of inspiration for orchestrating the digital transformation, developing new ideas, and bringing new concepts to life. Individual AcTION presentations demonstrated how digital transformation processes can be implemented in the real world with passion, courage and curiosity.

With FUTURE UNIVERSITY, SWITCH offers top-level administrators from the university landscape a platform that aims to actively encourage discussion on current and future issues surrounding digitalisation, and to drive joint development. SWITCH sees itself as an integral component of the Swiss university community, as a technical ‘enabler’ and as an advisor that can pool mutual interests. The foundation promotes discourse surrounding the digital transformation, thus helping to ensure that Switzerland continues to successfully defend its position as a global leader in research and innovation.

Orchestrating continuous change and promoting new ideas

The event was launched by conductor, music producer and coach Christian Gansch, who provided a unique glimpse behind the scenes of the orchestra world. Using the example of a symphony orchestra, he explained how you can orchestrate ongoing transformation and bring together individualists and artists to form a whole without sacrificing their unique qualities.

«Inherent flaws in thinking distinguish us from the uncreative machine.»

Dr. Henning Beck

This was followed by a scientific call for concepts that are faulty, inefficient – and thus innovative. Dr Henning Beck, neuroscientist, biochemist and German Science Slam champion, impressed the audience with his statement that «inherent flaws in thinking distinguish us from the uncreative machine.» Humans may not be as efficient as computers, but you can’t simply google new ideas. That is why research and teaching also need to change – different skills are in demand and we learn differently when aided by technology.

Personalised learning in practice

Lucian Cosinschi, Regional Director Europe at Minerva Schools at KGI, introduced the first example of a learning-centred university. He offered insights into his institution, which sees itself as an innovator with the goal of keeping education relevant in this age of global interaction and accelerated change. Using 21st-century tools and knowledge, the university aims to inspire students from around the globe and turn them into critical, socially responsible citizens of the world. They study at seven different locations around the world and complement their learning with internships.

The Finnish team academy concept sparked something of a revolution in the Business Administration bachelor’s program at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland (HES-SO), with traditional exams phased out and replaced with competence-based evaluations. In line with this practice-oriented approach, Antoine Perruchoud, Professor and Director of the Institute Entrepreneurship & Management (IEM) at HES-SO, had three of his Team Academy students present their individualised learning processes.

From the first day of their studies, the students work on real projects in three-person teams with real clients and real turnover. The ‘teampreneurs’ learn, understand and reflect based on their successes and failures. Every path to learning is individual and based on the students’ personal interests. The learning process is aided by a digital portfolio. During the three-year program, students acquire, demonstrate and validate 21 different business economics competencies.

At the end of the event, Dr Andreas Bleuler, Senior Computer Scientist & Industry Advisor at the Swiss Data Science Center at ETH Zurich, presented a somewhat different approach to further education in the area of machine learning. In his newly developed course, ‘Carving through Data’, participants learn not by studying highly curated data sets in a lecture hall, but rather with ‘real’ data that they themselves generated earlier on the ski slopes. This concept offers a number of advantages: participants learn with a more intuitive approach to the data at hand, greater intrinsic motivation and a more realistic experience of handling data sets.

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