Classrooms are empty. Teachers teach online. Students follow their lectures from a distance via their computer screens. Covid-19 has accelerated school systems applying online learning. Globally, almost all students learn from a distance in this Corona-era. How does this work within the network of top technical universities? "Students have not lost a single part of their education", says Roberto Prieto, the leader of the EIT Digital Entrepreneurship Academy.
The EIT Digital Entrepreneurial Academy remains strongly committed to educating tomorrow's innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders to build a strong digital Europe, ensures Prieto. "We have adapted our education efficiently to the situation and have aligned with all our partnering universities to ensure both the technical and the innovation and entrepreneurial education continues."
This is good news to current and aspirant students. Current students like Ronja Rüsch, a second-year master school student in Cloud Computing, says that the experience you gain at the EIT Digital Master School is "very valuable". "You cannot get that anywhere else."
Within the EIT Digital Master School, the university partners are now offering all technical majors online to the EIT Digital Master School students. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship modules were already online shaped modules that students can continue to study from.
The innovation and entrepreneurship part - plus the double degree - stands out from other universities offering, says Carmen Martinez, who studies Autonomous Systems at the EIT Digital Master School. "In the future, these will be relevant aspects of your CV - these are the things companies look for. I noticed that already when I was looking for an internship. Every company I emailed replied that they were looking for someone like me."
Prieto explains that the EIT Digital Entrepreneurial Academy, which operates in a European network of collaborating top tech universities, already has built over the years, a large offer of online education and is due to its vision on the future of education already implementing online learning and blended learning models for quite some time. "Within a strong Digital Europe, a strong digital Education is essential."
A community of teachers from the different partnering universities has researched the best blended learning models and developed a quality framework to support this kind of teaching that all kind of universities can use.
The EIT Digital Master School is now also scaling up the launch of three blended masters. For the programmes Data Science, Embedded Systems and Cyber Security students can work the first semester of the dual degree two-year masters completely online, starting from September 2020. They can then flow into the ‘standard' masters with blended learning models in February 2021.
In 2018 a first pilot with the blended programme Embedded Systems was conducted with two students who both graduated in November 2019. "The EIT Digital courses are well structured", said Erik Wouters, one of these students about the online offering. "I would rate EIT Digital's online courses 8.5 on a scale of one to ten. So, that is very good." Also, to Christopher O'Hara the other participant the courses were "very suitable" to him.
Universities offering in this form of blended masters for the three programmes are the University of Twente, Eindhoven University of Technology, KTH, University of Turku. Other universities like for example University Côte d' Azur, also are providing the online material for this.
Prieto says that via this way students who need to travel from abroad will not have to abort their educational aspiration but can start completely online from wherever they are in the world. These students can enrol into their studies in February 2022, having done the first part completely online. He assumes that with this measurement the students' aspirations of studying at EIT Digital will be met.
The EIT Digital Entrepreneurial Academy also announces that all the 16 Summer Schools that were planned to take place in 12 different countries are now being held completely online in August. All the Summer School organisers are working hard now to prepare the best online summer school experience ever. All attendees, EIT Digital Master School students, external students and business people, will be offered high-level quality lectures in one of the five focus area's Digital Cities, Digital Finance, Digital Industry, Digital Tech and Digital Wellbeing. Besides, they will perform teamwork assignments on real-life business cases provided by our partners. Online only.
Also, the five-day innovation and entrepreneurship seminars, which form a qualitative, distinguishing part of the EIT Digital Doctoral School, are now offered in a live online streaming class to the industrial doctorate candidates and externals. Furthermore, the industrial doctorates are continuing their research from remote where possible and their seminars are now being given completely online.
What is promising in the development of online learning is that Prieto is witnessing a peak in the enrolments of the online Coursera that the Academy is offering on the online learning platform Coursera. "People are eager to learn, and online learning turns out to be highly convenient, under the condition off course that the quality is good. The fast and smooth embracement of online learning opportunities is bringing forward the future of education to the present."