During the coronavirus-related switch to digital teaching, the primary goal of the Faculty of Business, Economic and Informatics at UZH was to enable students to complete their semester on time and to hold all examinations online on the planned date. With the first, successfully completed online examination week and 5539 examinations taken so far, the biggest milestone has been reached
- thanks to careful preparation of everyone involved.
Every year, the assessment examination week, with sometimes more than 800 students per examination, is an organizational balancing act that has always taken place at Messe Halle Oerlikon. This year, the situation was completely different: For the first time in the history of UZH and the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics (WWF), all the examinations were taken at home in the students’ own four walls. A novelty and a technical challenge – for both the students and the Faculty.
Seven-week of preparation by the Task Force
In ten different modules, 5539 assessment and Bachelor's compulsory examinations were completed this week at WWF – online and from the convenience of the students’ own home. For the largest examination, 830 students accessed the UZH examination environment simultaneously without any technical problems or overload. The other examinations involved between 280 and 750 students. These figures required meticulous organizational and technical preparation, which was accomplished by an interdisciplinary team of around 20 people during a seven-week preparation phase. «We can be proud that, thanks to the joint efforts of the Faculty, the University and, in particular, the great support of UZH Multimedia and E-Learning Team, this first online examination week, which was particularly demanding with the assessment examinations, was so successful,» says Dean Harald C. Gall, summing up the initial results.
«Crowd Intelligence» used within the Faculty
At the beginning of April, WWF was the first of the seven faculties to decide, in accordance with the Executive Board of the University, that all examinations would be held digitally and online in May and June to enable students to plan their semester. Barely two months later, the first week of online examinations was a success. This was only possible thanks to a joint effort by the Faculty, its lecturers and other supporting persons. In particular, the Faculty’s ad hoc Support Team, which assists all lecturers with the technical and logistical implementation of the online examinations, proved to be a decisive factor. Prof. Uschi Backes-Gellner, who heads the Faculty's Task Force for the implementation of the online examinations, says: «Above all, we used the crowd intelligence available at our Faculty and built on the fact that we (must) all learn from each other quickly. With the Faculty’s rapidly established Support Team, we ensured that all relevant information reached all lecturers and students as quickly as possible. In our opinion, these two elements were essential for the short-term implementation of such a large project.» She adds: «The lecturers have made an extraordinary effort to switch both teaching and examinations to online within a few weeks. We would, therefore, like to thank them very much in these challenging times.»
Students involved in the preparation process
It should not be forgotten that the students also made a significant contribution to the success of the project. In regular discussions, the student representatives brought the students' concerns and wishes into the project planning and thus contributed significantly to the quality of the processes and solutions. In addition, each individual student contributed to this success through a high degree of personal responsibility and fair conduct, thus making a significant contribution to the successful completion of the examinations.
The end in sight
But this special semester is not over yet: More online examinations will take place until the end of June, so that more than 100 examinations will be held online by the end of the semester. The Faculty is confident that after this successful start with the very large examinations, the remaining examinations can also be taken successfully. Until the end of this examination session, however, all those involved - the Faculty, the Support Team, the lecturers and the students – must once again be highly concentrated in order to ensure the success of the examinations, so that the students can then start their well-earned lecture-free time to take their planned holidays, internships or summer jobs.