Professor Anja Steinbeck


Rector of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Prof. Dr. Anja Steinbeck Copyright: © Susanne Kurz

Should we return to full live courses after the pandemic, continue to offer online-only teaching, or do hybrid teaching?

We have a tendency to want to have the best of both worlds. What is important to me here is that we preserve the in-person teaching world. Only in this world can a university be experienced, since interdisciplinary exchange only occurs in person, and we cannot overestimate the importance of this.

Which teaching formats would you like to see online, which ones in personal settings?

Instead of inventing rules according to which certain teaching formats must take place in person and others virtually, we should find intelligent and dynamic solutions that are oriented to teaching requirements.

For example, I can imagine students first learning the basics of a topic with self-study using good teaching materials and then coming to campus for direct discussions.

Besides, practical skills, for example, lab skills, cannot be learned in virtual formats.

Your vision: What should the successor model of a traditional lecture look like that integrates research and "doing" (no matter whether in presence or online)?

Lecture halls can also include virtual interaction. Of course, no one should be disadvantaged, but the reality for some time has been that almost all students on campus have their smartphones, tablets, or notebooks on them. This offers opportunities for better participation. Using apps and other tools leads to direct engagement with the content and deepens the learning effect – not always – but increasingly.

Will lecturers still be needed in ten years' time or will AI/robots be enough to keep teaching?

I think only virtual instructors in ten years is not only science fiction but also fantasy. It is desirable to conduct research on this, but not desirable to only teach with it.

A number of demands are coming from industry and society as to what universities should include in their curricula in the future. If studies are not to be extended, one must also ask what we will no longer need in the future. Do you have any suggestions?

That must be decided separately for each discipline. Contrary to a widespread view, I do not consider knowledge retrievable from Wikipedia to be dispensable across the board. And, even if it does not relieve the curricula: In the future, we will not need paper-based study organization and administration.