Campus - 27.05.2022 - 00:00 

Inspiration for teaching at the HSG

How can digital media be used in teaching? And what changes have arisen from SQUARE for regular teaching staff at the HSG thus far? These and other questions were discussed on the HSG’s eighth "Teaching Day".

27 May 2022. “We intend to purposefully disrupt each another in our teaching processes,” says Charlotte Axelsson, Head of E-Learning at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). She spoke at the eighth “Teaching Day” hosted by the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and appealed for more sensoriality in digital didactics in her keynote speech. “Disruption”, she said, means that regular teaching staff adopt a playful and agile approach to their teaching. To do this, the ZHdK has set up the “Experimental learning labs”, where regular teaching staff can explore questions, tools and scenarios relating to digital didactics. E-learning experts support the regular teaching staff as they do so. “There are no prerequisites and no goal, which creates freedom for the regular teaching staff,” says Axelsson.

Charlotte Axelsson
Charlotte Axelsson, Head of E-Learning at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

In addition, the ZHdK’s understanding of teaching focuses on specific sensory experiences. To create these, the ZHdK makes use of hybrid methods that combine digital and analogue elements, with one example being the learning spaces the ZHdK redesigned so that they can be completely refurnished and divided up by each user group. Axelsson said that she sees parallels to the concept of the SQUARE, where the HSG’s Teaching Day took place, in this approach.

After the pandemic: activating students

“Today, we want to inspire regular teaching staff, academic directors and other HSG colleagues and thus continually improve our teaching,” said Martin Eppler, Vice-President Studies & Academic Affairs, in a discussion parallel to the event. There are current factors that are influencing the way we think about teaching, he noted, explaining: “Various studies show that after two years of the pandemic, student engagement has fallen across Switzerland.” Innovative learning formats are therefore now important, he continued, for activating students, among other things. “The SQUARE represents an opportunity for the HSG, because it offers many possibilities for new formats.” Eppler welcomed attendees with a short speech, saying: “At HSG as well, teaching is changing drastically.” He mentioned the “Personality in Residence” format, as one example among others. Here, external figures from business, culture, academia and politics enter into an exchange with the SQUARE community.

Martin Eppler
Prof. Dr. Martin Eppler, Vice-President Studies & Academic Affairs

Podcasts foster creativity

In the afternoon, the focus was on podcasts and videos in teaching. Paula Bialski, who teaches and researches the sociology of digitisation at the HSG, gave an introductory report on a course in the spring semester of 2021, in which she got students to produce podcasts independently. “They had three semesters of distance learning behind them and they were tired. That’s why I wanted to give them a creative task,” says Bialski. The students produced the ten-part podcast series “Music in Lockdown”, which is dedicated to the question of how the pandemic is influencing the music industry as a whole. “This way, students learn to use interview techniques, and they also have to develop a research question and stick with it in the production process,” said Bialski.

Paula Bialski
Prof. Ph.D. Paula Bialski, Associated Professor of Digital Sociology

Afterwards, Fabia Odermatt from the Media Lab at the University of St.Gallen gave attendees specific tips on how they can produce podcasts and incorporate them into teaching. “Podcasts are a creative element for teaching, and they can be an incentive for students to take a course and engage with it,” said Odermatt. She and the team offer technical equipment for producing podcasts or even videos in the Media Lab. “We also help members of the university to use editing programmes and recording equipment,” says Odermatt. After this brief introduction, participants were able to try out microphones, mixers and the Rapidmooc video software directly in situ.

Fabia Odermatt
Fabia Odermatt, HSG Media Lab

First experiences of the SQUARE

After that, various HSG members and external parties reported on their initial experiences of using the SQUARE thus far in the spring 2022 semester. Anne Rickelt, a lecturer at the Research Institute for Organizational Psychology, talked about a learning experience outside of familiar classroom settings. Together with the St.Gallen-based art education expert Jasmin Kaufmann, she organised an art workshop at the SQUARE at the end of March. The aim of this was to produce an artwork within one day based on the working title “Climate change is expensive”. Students were able to attend the workshop without registering. “I think it would be interesting to have a permanent space for artistic work set up in the SQUARE,” said art education expert Kaufmann. “Even just the one workshop prompted a lively exchange among the students.”

Text: Urs-Peter Zwingli

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