Teaching in the winter semester

Dear teachers, dear students, dear members of staff,
Following a summer semester in which we were all required, without any preparation time, to teach, study or work completely digitally, we are now looking ahead to a so-called hybrid winter semester.
In addition to the handout on concrete planning of lectures in winter semester 2020/21, which was issued to teachers last Friday (September 18, 2020), we would like to take this opportunity to once again answer the question “What will be different from the summer semester?” as a matter of priority.
Teaching will continue to be conducted primarily in digital form. We are, however, planning face-to-face teaching for clearly defined exceptional cases; these exceptions concern teaching/learning offers for first semester students (freshers) and events in which students are to acquire practical scientific skills and carry out practical exercises (e.g. in laboratories) and so cannot be conducted in digital form. We communicated this in our circular e-mail of 17 July 2020. The information set out here was based on the following regulations:

  • The majority of teaching in the winter semester will also be conducted in digital form. Everything that can be done digitally will be done digitally.
  • Face-to-face and attendance formats will be facilitated subject to current hygiene rules wherever the learning objective of acquiring practical scientific skills cannot be substituted digitally (e.g. lab practicals).
  • Likewise, face-to-face events can be offered for first semester students (freshers) to help them get to know one another (in small groups in compliance with hygiene rules or now also in cohorts) and their teachers in university teaching/learning formats.

We are currently receiving requests for more wide-ranging planning of face-to-face lectures in certain areas. The justification being that it would be possible for small groups to use rooms as defined in the hygiene strategies. In individual cases, this is correct and understandable, as we - as teachers - have also discovered that interactive digital work in seminars is not (yet) comparable to the opportunities available when working face-to-face.
However, as the management of the CAU, we are responsible - on behalf of the University Board, all Dean's Offices and central facilities - not only for the provision of individual lectures but also the entire implementation of the winter semester. This includes regulations for a total of 2,000 modules that must allow for inter-coordinated room plans, route plans and time slots with opportunities for airing rooms between lectures and other measures.
For this reason, we would like to expressly point out that the planning of face-to-face lectures in the coming winter semester is not possible beyond the agreed regulations; this applies to events on campus as well as university lectures held at other venues. Protection of health must come first. Planning of face-to-face lectures based on these agreements is therefore conducted exclusively by the faculties together with central facilities and the University Board. As a joint university management we cannot approve requests that differ from this.
As stated in the current handout, therefore, all attendance events for the coming winter semester must be agreed with the Dean's Offices.
We are aware that we cannot cater for every individual idea and that there has to be a joint configuration of teaching in the winter semester, too. We would like to take this opportunity to ask you all for your assistance and support on this, with the realistic hope that the rate of infection will drop again over the next year. We will then be able to use both of these challenging semesters as an opportunity to combine our experiences with tried and tested strategies for high-quality teaching in a way that produces a new “normal” for teaching at the CAU, to which you will all have contributed. We are continuing to work towards having this extra effort recognised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Cultural Affairs (Ministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Kultur, MBWK).
This does not affect the fact that we will continue the very constructive process of further developing both digital and (hybrid) attendance formats, as arranged between the student representatives, Deans, University Board and various administrative facilities. Digital formats offer opportunities, but can and should not replace face-to-face teaching. For us, looking to the future, the unrestricted focus remains on using the range of formats which match the objectives of academic and scientific study.
As before, teachers can still find all the information at a glance including all links to cloud documents, explanations in HISinOne and current rules on the CAU’s corona website for lecturers.
With many thanks for your assistance and best regards,
The University Board and the Deans