Professor Sabina Jeschke


Senior Advisor Deloitte, Former Board Member of Deutsche Bahn AG

Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke Copyright: © DB AG / Max Lautenschlaeger

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

Both extremes work, as has been impressively shown. But we should combine both sensibly and use the best of both worlds. If content is recorded, learners can, for example, watch it several times in preparation for an exam or listen to it with a time delay. It is not necessary to be present in a lecture hall - I consider the digital format to be superior for lectures. Above all, the transfer, exchange and practical elements such as laboratories must still take place live and in some cases locally. Although - I dealt with the concept of remote laboratories many years ago - the time may not have been ripe. In the coming years we will see a breakthrough here, which will get a huge push especially from around 2025 through quantum computing: A completely new complexity of simulations, reality conformity (keyword "digital twin") and real-time capability will be possible.

(How) Can we organize teaching and learning together with companies? Is this something to aim for?

Definitely! Cooperation between science and industry is of enormous importance - for both sides. In addition to the possibility of quickly coupling theory and practice, further developing and applying them, we can also benefit from the resulting growing diversity.

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

We are currently experiencing a “democratization of learning”. While in the past only some had the Brockhaus or comparable reference works available, today everyone has access to diverse and free sources of knowledge. We also know that a large proportion of the hits on the prominent MOOC platforms in the USA do not come from American students at all, but from peasant children in India who, ten years ago, would not have had a chance to attend an MIT professor's lecture to visit. But these are examples of more passive forms of teaching, "access to knowledge". The next step is that we will support individual learning strategies with the help of intelligent agents, i.e. AI-based bots. As if each learner had his or her own private tutor.

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)?

To be clear: the traditional lecture has proven itself as a teaching format for centuries. On the one hand, it is used for the compact transfer of knowledge by a specialist in the relevant field. On the other hand, the basic structure, namely one to two hours of directing one's attention to one object, is disciplined and important. Thus, we must rather think about an intelligent addition to the tried and tested forms of teaching with new elements. The spectrum can range from cross-university discussion groups / panels, practice-oriented projects to institutionalized labs.

A number of demands are coming from industry and society as to what universities should include in their curricula in 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?

As long as you stick to the more classic course structure, which requires extensive teaching of the basics, e.g. higher mathematics 1-3 for engineers, you can hardly leave anything out. The reverse inevitably means an extension of the degree - which, by the way, I do not consider a disaster, we are all getting older and older. Project-oriented courses, such as Maastricht, offer an alternative to this. Here a specific project is the regulatory framework, not the various specialist disciplines. The students acquire a wide variety of skills in specific project work.

How can universities get better in teaching transdisciplinarity and how can they help students in getting their mindsets in transdisciplinarity working?

Universities increase their interdisciplinarity if they align their structures and mindset to this principle. This means, among other things, that the dissolution of the classic subject structures must not be a taboo. The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) offers a good example of how it can be done differently. Here research and teaching are organized along interdisciplinary clusters.