100% Distance Learning at the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol: Summer Semester Continues Entirely Online
By switching to distance learning, the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol responded to the currently challenging situation, thereby enabling students to complete the summer semester successfully.
The well-developed digital infrastructure and the commitment of the University of Applied Sciences staff enabled a successful transition in the shortest possible time; as a result, the university operations continue through remote administration and courses take place via distance learning.
Prof. (FH) Dr. Thomas Madritsch, managing director of the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol expresses gratitude and appreciation: “In March, we already held 1,200 courses online and can thus continue the summer semester successfully via the digital route and most importantly: there is no disadvantage for our students! I would like to express our appreciation for the cooperation, understanding, and trust of our students and staff.”
Online Instruction at the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol – How It Works
For several years, digitization has not only been a continuous research topic at the University of Applied Sciences, but has also massively promoted the expansion of the online portion of courses. "We are delighted that this digital advance has enabled us to ensure that our students can continue their studies successfully and can therefore achieve the best prospects for their future even in this challenging time. We know that this virtual path posed some challenges at the beginning; nevertheless, it is the right one, as the experience of lecturers and students shows,” says Prof. (FH) Dr. Mario Döller, Rector of the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol.
In the implementation of the fully online delivery, the lecturers draw on previous experience, exchange among themselves, and therefore act as a strong team. “What is currently helping me a lot is the experience I had in the last semester with a course offered as part of the Master’s program in Web Communication & Information Systems. The content of a lecture there required exactly what we are all doing now - collaboration entirely on digital channels. I had already built that in and had gained experience with synchronous and asynchronous e-learning. Among other things, we had our first virtual guest lecturer there: Ricardo Thiele from the Kronsteg agency,” explains Prof. (FH) Dipl.-Ing. Karsten Böhm, director of the innovative master's program.
Distance learning also offers the development of new learning concepts and creates experiences that might not have developed in classroom instruction. “For their presentation of project results, I wanted the students not to use the usual PowerPoint presentation. Of course, this would have been easy to implement within the framework of digital teaching and learning; however, it would have challenged students less in their creativity. The approaches students opted to apply instead were fantastic and super-creative: in addition to the classic whiteboard presentation, they incorporated self-made explanatory videos, role-plays in video conference format, and online quizzes with a very high level of participation by all course participants. Therefore, my conclusion is that it is very worthwhile to involve the students actively in the new distance learning situation and it is also much more fun for everyone,” reports Dipl.-Kfm. Karin Steiner, university lecturer for corporate management at the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol.
Successful Distance Learning: Students' Opinion Is Decisive
Our commitment to providing individual support and maintaining personal contact with students is in line with the University’s philosophy and therefore has a very high value.
Due to the current situation, vivid communication exchange takes place via digital channels, between lecturers, study management, the student representative body and students. This offers space for suggestions from the degree programs and enables us to make online teaching and learning even more innovative and better. “Just as we learn from the feedback our lecturers provide, we now provide feedback to our instructors. This is the only way we can successfully put the still bulky term "distance learning" into practice,” explains Valentin Neuhauser, chairperson of the Austrian Association of Students at the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol.
So far, due to the open feedback culture and the responsiveness and commitment of the lecturers, distance learning could be successfully adapted to meet the current needs of students: "The lecturers are trying very hard and we have many tasks and projects that we can complete in small groups online. We also get feedback or answers to our questions fairly quickly. Moreover, the IT department helps us if we cannot help ourselves with technical problems,” summarizes a student from the Master’s program International Business Studies.
Looking Forward to Seeing You Again on Campus
The online delivery is well received by students, which helps to ensure that the current summer semester can continue as planned – including part-time study programs. “The webinars we have had so far all ran to my complete satisfaction – hats off that this could be implemented successfully so quickly. While lecturers and students are getting used to the online formats, I naturally hope that we will be able to fill the campus again with life in autumn at the latest,” says a student from the part-time Master's degree in European Energy Management, expressing enthusiasm and optimism.
Despite the successful practice of distance learning, the students appreciate the personal and applied experience, which is why the anticipation for a reunion on campus increases: "We are in very close contact with our lecturers by email, if there are any questions or suggestions for improvement – that works very well so far because they usually really respond to us! In general, I miss Kufstein very much and would rather be on campus,” says a bachelor student who studies Sports, Culture & Event Management.