The rapid change to distance education during the COVID 19 pandemic impressively showed the enormous potential of digital media to foster teaching and learning. We expect the collective experience that “distance education works” will change decision maker’s minds and lead to new formats in university education.
While several university teachers faced substantial problems when trying to adapt their lectures to a new format, the change to online teaching in residential programs was not a big deal for faculty members who are involved in UNIGIS. More than 25 years of experience in distance education simply matter.
While many aspects in learning work online as well as in a traditional classroom, socializing with new people in a virtual environment is definitely a challenge. Thus, the kick-off workshops of our German language UNIGIS programs at UNIGIS Salzburg are traditionally held in a face-to-face format. This time, we needed to move even this important event from physical to virtual space, considering the corona situation. The result were 21 new UNIGIS professional students getting to know each other in a video conference setting. Using a set of interactive formats like breakout sessions for small discussion round or a Mozartkugel-degustation in the collective coffee break, we tried our best to foster the good spirit of a joint project: Learning together the essence of geoinformatics in the year to come. Formal evaluation and informal responses show that the workshop was a success and travel-free-mode facilitated participation in some cases.